Why Men Obsess Over Unconventional Beauty
How offbeat looks polarize audiences, win out over conventional beauty, and attract the right men.
When you hear the word unconventional beauty, who comes to mind? You might think a group of women who weren’t considered beautiful until they found success in a profession that celebrates distinctiveness – fashion models like Sabina Karlsson, Lara Stone, and Lily Cole, perhaps?
Modeling celebrates Kate Moss’s waif-like figure, Lindsey Wixson and Lara Stone’s gapped-tooth smiles, the darkness of Alek Wek, the circular face of Lily Cole, the alien-like androgyny of Tilda Swinton and Cierra Skye, Sabina Karlsson’s abundance of freckles, or Kelly Mittendorf’s hooded, deep-set eyes. The list goes on and on.
Most would agree that they are striking; is that because of their unusual physical features or their confidence in the face of a society that dictates that all women should look like Barbie — or both, perhaps?
How about Beth Ditto and Adele? Though they don’t fit with current trends, they are the very essence of classic beauty. The most ancient depictions of goddesses, such as the Venus of Willendorf, are very voluptuous. Despite that, they definitely don’t fit the modern archetypes of skinny, Barbie-esque beauty.
Aside from their full figure, which is unfortunately not in mainstream vogue, everything about them is would be considered beautiful by today’s narrow standards. They’ve got glowing skin, lovely hair, healthy smile, great personality, amazing talent and –perhaps most importantly– an abundance of confidence.
There are two urban definitions of unconventional beauty — and they are contradictory. On the positive side, it suggests that even though a woman does not have the classically attractive look of Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, or Angelina Jolie, her beauty still charms and captivates the viewers in a rather inimitable way.
On the flip side, being called an unconventional beauty is an in-your-face way of saying that the woman is not really beautiful at all (in that person’s not-so-humble opinion, anyway). The thought, however, that you call a woman unconventionally beautiful instead of simply calling her ugly is a paradox. For when someone don’t like the way a person looks, they would usually be expected to avoid giving her the description “beautiful” altogether.
And therein lies the key…
Interestingly, an analysis of data obtained from the dating website OKCupid showed that unconventionally beautiful women receive more messages than women who are “generically beautiful” or fit the standard definition of beauty.
Essentially, if some men think a woman is unattractive, those men who think she is beautiful will be much more powerfully attracted to her, and much more inclined to reach out to her.
The trait that turns a few off will strongly entice others. In other words, a woman gets a better response from men as men become less consistent in their opinions of her.
The study proved what many already knew — that unconventional beauty provokes strong, polarized reactions.
As for the traditionally ‘pretty’ women, many men found them attractive, but not as passionately or as strongly. It was more of a “yeah, sure” lukewarm reaction as opposed to “good God she’s stunning”.
The study also showed:
“But our advice can apply to anyone. Browsing OkCupid, I see so many photos that are clearly designed to minimize some supposedly unattractive trait–the close-cropped picture of a person who’s probably overweight is the classic example. We now have mathematical evidence that minimizing your “flaws” is the opposite of what you should do. If you’re a little chubby, play it up. If you have a big nose, play it up. If you have a weird snaggletooth, play it up: statistically, the guys who don’t like it can only help you, and the ones who do like it will be all the more excited.”
So, what does the significance of unconventional beauty mean for you? Does it enable you to turn whatever you perceive as a negative into a positive?
It should, yes! That trait that makes you look in the mirror and sigh might be your greatest asset, if you wear it confidently.
The study’s takeaway is clear: To attract men, focus on whatever you are insecure about—and emphasize it. If you turn your ‘flaw’ into an asset and wear it with confidence, it’ll turn off some men, but it’ll also attract men who feel very strongly that you’re an unparalleled beauty.
So instead of trying to mask those “flaws,” emphasize them! For example, if you have a mole on your face, instead of trying to cover it up, highlight it! (Remember: Cindy Crawford almost had her famous mole removed.) Embracing their own unique beauty is the secret behind the success of unusual looking models, actresses, and others whose careers depend on their looks. It’s part of what makes them so compelling.
In my view, what this boils down to is simply: this is how to attract the right men. Men who recognize that you are displaying your unconditional self-love and respect, visually. Men who think that a woman who genuinely loves herself is the most attractive trait of all.
But self-love is an uphill battle in today’s society.
Let’s acknowledge that the beauty standard differs from culture to culture. While there are certain ratios of face and body that research shows make a person more attractive, those ratios vary considerably around the world.
However, in America there is consensus within the media, and every single person on this planet knows what American culture sees as beautiful: Caucasian. Super thin. Large eyes. Large lips. Small nose. Large breasts. It’s a very narrow definition and its intention is to make you feel that if you don’t fit that description (which relatively few do) that you are (for lack of a better word), well, doomed.
It makes sense for advertisers and the media to make the ideal “beauty” as unreachable as possible. This way, 99% of women will feel that they can’t live up to that standard… unless, maybe, if they buy this product… This is why the beauty industry is the sprawling leviathan that it is, and almost every person in America has done something to make themselves fit the standard, from wearing concealer all the way to getting a nose job.
But it’s all bullsh*t!
In the end, there is little purpose in trying to pinpoint the definition of “unconventional beauty.” Someone who is unconventionally beautiful is attractive through their defiance of standards, not in spite of them.
What is beauty, anyway, when a trait that is ugly to one person will seem beautiful to another?
What’s universally attractive is the attitude behind the façade. A woman who shows off her gapped teeth or alien face or full figure with confidence will be noticed in a positive light. She might not meet the standards set for her by magazines or Hollywood, but she doesn’t need to: she sets her own standards for herself. And confidence will always be beautiful.
How would you feel if you were called an unconventional beauty?