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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Help me accept myself as an attractive woman

223 replies

Lulabellarama · 23/05/2011 13:31

Hello, I hope I can get this question across, it's been buzzing around my head for a while, and I feel it is an important subject.
I have always been regarded as reasonably attractive, in my younger years I was waif-like and drew a lot of attention, now as a 30 yo mother of 2, less so.
My problem is that I have always attached a lot of my self worth to appearance and as I become more 'anonymous' as a sexually attractive woman I find myself becoming more and more down on myself.
I KNOW it's alright not be a size 8, I KNOW it's nothing to be ashamed of that I don't have a flat stomach, or have dimpled thighs. I KNOW that I am a desired wife and generally a good person, so why do I feel so miserable about it?
I am getting to a stage where I am thinking about this a lot, and I hate that despite my logic I constantly compare myself to celebrities, to women on the street, to members of my family. I am not a shallow person, so why does this matter so much to me, and more importantly what can I do about it?
Does anyone have any thoughts on this subject? Perhaps some suggested reading material about the media manipulation of women to attach so much value to our looks?

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Prolesworth · 23/05/2011 13:35

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Lulabellarama · 23/05/2011 13:39

Thanks Prolesworth (were you on The Killing thread?), I don't wish to misrepresent things, I'm not horribly depressed, I just feel I am devoting far too much of my thinking to this subject, in a negative way.

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Prolesworth · 23/05/2011 13:42

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Lulabellarama · 23/05/2011 13:43

Well then I know you are a good sort. Grin

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Prolesworth · 23/05/2011 13:48

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SybilBeddows · 23/05/2011 13:49

Beauty and Misogyny by Sheila Jeffreys is very good indeed.

do you read women's magazines or any other kind of media which focuses on celebrities and appearance? If so, drop them and switch to a magazine which is about what people do or make rather than how they look.

also this may seem counterintuitive, but have a look at the Resisting Complusory Femininity threads and consider giving up a beauty practice. Oddly enough it can help you feel more attractive (though that was not the original intention of the thread Grin) - it's almost as if it's a way to break the spell of Feeling That You're Not Good Enough by saying 'fuck it, I am perfectly good as I am'.

Prolesworth · 23/05/2011 13:51

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worldgonecrazy · 23/05/2011 13:53

No advice other than to say I know how you feel. At the age of 41, although I look younger than my years, it's still a lot of hard work and I am now exploring other possibilities such as botox should wrinkles appear.
Sometimes I really dislike the power that physical looks hold over people and despise the vanity of it all, and then something happens and the vanity bug bites again.
At some point in our lives we have to accept that the beauty of youth will turn into the beauty of old age. At least when we are old we will just have to keep our minds sharp, witty and sexy and not worry about wearing matching underwear and keeping our pubes in trim.

Lulabellarama · 23/05/2011 13:55

Sybil Fortunately (for my own sanity) I gave up the trash media some time back. I gave up a lot of my old 'regimes' after having children, and in some respects it is helpful, but it's not enough.

I will start with those 2 books and see where that leads me. I just feel immensely saddened that I give a shit.

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dittany · 23/05/2011 13:55

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Lulabellarama · 23/05/2011 13:59

I also despair at my vanity because I have never been more secure in a relationship, my husband adores me on every level and I have a sickeningly happy home life.
I suppose that it may be that I used to revel in attention and flirtation and now that I no longer have that validation of my attractiveness in volume, I feel 'less' attractive.

Does that even make sense?

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HaughtyChuckle · 23/05/2011 14:00

This going to sound awful, but hold in your comfort that you ARE attractive and people have found you attractive.

I bet you look good for your age, even the most beautiful celebs age and they have obscene money and time , you have children etc and still are attractive,

sorry if that not helpful.

Lulabellarama · 23/05/2011 14:04

dittany Thanks for that. Your perspective is exactly what I am aiming for. Though how far do we take it? Does it really not matter if I am no longer attractive? Do we not require some level of physical attraction to our partners to maintain a relationship?
Apologies, I am not yet as enlightened as I hope to be.

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Primalscream · 23/05/2011 14:07

Lula - you're feeling completely normal ( althogh 30 does seem a little young to be worrying about aging ) - and tbh I think we have a duty to ourselves and society in general to look presentable. Men also have insecurities believe it or not ( plenty of men having Botox) so please don't see 'looking attractive' as something negative and that you're just doing to please men. Most women want to look good for themselves and their own self esteem.

I'm sure you're lovely Smile

SybilBeddows · 23/05/2011 14:09

I heart Dittany

snowmama · 23/05/2011 14:10

It is because (as others here have said) we are constantly bombarded with images with what we should look like and we are congratulated when we approximate that (i.e. women being congratulated for looking 'well' when in fact they have lost weight due to life trauma or serious illness).

This is going to sound very hippy, trippy, cheesy - but make friends with your body - love every inch of her.. the amazing things she does for you to exist every day, the miraculousness of being simply here at all, the funny quirks that uniquely define you... stop reading shitty women's mags (if you do).

Celebrate yourself because you are amazing and beautiful. You can actually start switching off external responses to you - because positive or negative, they are actually not that useful. I know it sounds trite- but I used to worry about my body all the time, but once you can start to switch off the external 'eyes' so to speak, it can be incredibly liberating.

Prolesworth · 23/05/2011 14:10

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Prolesworth · 23/05/2011 14:12

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SybilBeddows · 23/05/2011 14:13

I don't personally believe that there is much connection between being conventionally attractive and keeping the spark alive in a relationship. Feeling happy with yourself and liking each other is more important IMO.

SybilBeddows · 23/05/2011 14:14

Hollywood stars get divorced all the time and look how pretty they are!

Ormirian · 23/05/2011 14:15

It's amazingly insidious isn't it?

I have never been much of a looker and have generally been OK about it so it has shocked me how hard I have found it now that I am ageing so much. I am 46 and have lines, bags under my eyes and my skin is generally more tired looking. Which should be fine, should be 100% expected but it isn't. I find my whole day can be derailed by seeing myself looking haggard in a shop mirror. It is so bloody stupid! I have to make a concerted effort to think about something else so I can't dwell on the fact. So I do sympathise OP. I do try very hard to ignore my looks - after all it's all down hill from here looks-wise so I am going to have to just suck it up

BTW not sure that I find it at all comforting that men are become as obsessed with grooming as women are meant to be Hmm

HaughtyChuckle · 23/05/2011 14:17

Can you think of anything that makes you feel better not looks wise?

Lulabellarama · 23/05/2011 14:18

Sybil You are right, I know that.
It's very hard to see a life after 'pretty' iyswim. I think another aspect to my personal issues is thhat I never got any qualifications and consequently have never had a job that has fulfilled me. My self worth has always been very dependant on my physical appearance, I could do with building another part of myself to replace the void.

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Ormirian · 23/05/2011 14:18

I find that running helps. When I am running my muscles are firm and strong, my heart is pumping, my lungs are working hard. I feel that my body is doing what it is meant for and at that moment I wouldn't swap my ageing, less than slender physique for anyone no matter how pretty. And I've had babies and fed them for years - I haven't been short-changed by my body all in all.

Lulabellarama · 23/05/2011 14:21

Ormirian I found breastfeeding to be one of the most empowering things I have done in terms of my physical 'value'. I am tremendously proud of the babies I have produced and my good health.
Running is a great suggestion, which I may take up. I find it really helps my mental wellbeing.

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