This is the most awkward question I've ever asked...
March 18, 2010 8:58 AM   Subscribe

How can I get a 100% objective assessment of the way I look?

I have been very frustrated since becoming single for the first time in years. I am not doing well at all when it comes to attracting male attention. Frankly, it seems like every time I go out with my friends, I am ignored by guys in favor of them.

I really want to know if this is because of something to do with my physical appearance. But obviously no one in my life is going to give me a totally honest assessment of my looks, and basically all of my friends are girls anyways so I don't know if they would even be able to answer my question. And it's not like Hotornot would give me much illuminating data...

I guess I'm wondering if there some kind of service or website or something I could go to? I know this is a weird and kind of narcissistic question, but I figured it couldn't hurt to ask.
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (45 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Well, practically speaking, you can't get an "objective" assessment, since everyone's assessment of attractiveness is inherently subjective. That said, you could email me your photo. I'll be honest.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:01 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

What sort of information do you want to get?

While suffers from sample selection bias, it nonetheless seems to give a fairly good rating on relative physical attractiveness.
posted by dfriedman at 9:02 AM on March 18, 2010

It's currently down, but once it's back try face stat?

Granted, it's the internet, it's imperfect - but it's better than hot-or-not sites. People assign you adjectives and write about the impression you give (do you see liberal or conservative? educated? etc.)
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:03 AM on March 18, 2010

I like the idea of a MeFi "Hot or Not." I actually think you would get the most constructive comments from MeFites than virtually any other demographic.

But otherwise, perhaps you can look for a style / shopping consultant in your area.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:03 AM on March 18, 2010 [8 favorites]

Well, friends of mine have used hotornot for this purpose, by posting a number of pics then using the one receiving the highest rating for their dating profile pic. Engaging a stylist with a specific brief is another possibility.
posted by goo at 9:05 AM on March 18, 2010

If you have a webcam, you could go on Chatroulette and check men's response to you. If you're reasonably attractive, they'll be trying to prolong the conversation and invariably ask to see your tits. If you get nexted often then maybe it's something about your appearance.
posted by rancidchickn at 9:07 AM on March 18, 2010

I'm a lady and won't stalk you; I can give you some constructive criticism if you want.
posted by oinopaponton at 9:10 AM on March 18, 2010

How can I get a 100% objective assessment of the way I look?

No such thing. Everyone has biases, what they'd like and prefer, even yourself. For instance, would you rather hear the opinion of an unattractive or an attractive guy?

Also remember that there's sliding scale in terms of assessment. Good enough for a booty call vs long term dating involved two very different measures of assessing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:13 AM on March 18, 2010 [3 favorites]

Are you really talking about physical appearance or are you talking about presence?

Most males I know prefer a fairly natural makeup look, with only a bit of color on the eyes or lips only, and mascara. No rocket science here, just rub on a bit of either eyeshaddow or lipstick in a color that looks good on you (as a makeup counter person) and put on a coat of mascara. If you reallly feel you need it, you can dable on the slighted bit of foundation or tinted moisturizer, but usually just moiturizer is enough for your skin (I'm assuming you are college age?)

For clothes, you can scedule an appointment with a personal shopper at a department store and they will help you find outfits that highlight the goodgood of your body.

I think though where you really have problems attracting men is more likely to be your presence. You sound a bit down on yourself, due to "becoming single for the first time in years." You also seem to have some sort of notion that your friends are more attractive than you, so when you are out with them your body language and facial expressions probably say "I don't think I'm the best option in this gaggle of girls." Your lack of confidence is probably picked up by the men around you and that makes you look drab. Convince yourself that you are awesome and try starting the conversation with a guy instead of waiting like a dustbunny to be swept up. If you have friends that think you are awesome, then you'll be able to find guys that think you're cool too. You may not immediately find a guy to date and fall into a long term relationship with right away, but really going out with friends and meeting people shouldn't always be about that anyhow. Go out with friends, have fun and enjoy yourself, and initiate conversations with the dudes.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:15 AM on March 18, 2010 [7 favorites]

It may be something other than your physical attractiveness that results in your friends getting the attention. Perhaps they look open to receiving attention while you look less so?
posted by Obscure Reference at 9:16 AM on March 18, 2010

I don't think anything good could come out of a regular MeFi "Hot or Not" service. However, if you're really that concerned, I suppose you could post a link to a pic in this thread for feedback. It still makes me feel squicky though, personally, as a strong proponent of finding beauty on the inside and being confident in yourself no matter what you look like.

(On preview: seconding WeekendJen -- a still photo of your appearance doesn't convey much about how you carry yourself, which is a huge factor in your perceived attractiveness.)
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 9:17 AM on March 18, 2010

If you want to mail me a pic, I will also give an honest appraisal of physical attractiveness.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:17 AM on March 18, 2010

I don't know that it would really help you to get an "objective" assessment, even if that were possible. There isn't a woman (or a man, for that matter) on the planet who wouldn't be unattractive to some people and attractive to others. I've heard my father scoff at the idea of Elizabeth Taylor ever being beautiful and claim he's seen "better looking cows". Which I find rather hard to believe, but hey, if we all thought the same we'd all be in love with the same person, or at least the same few people.

If you were to be told you were beautiful, plain, or troll-like in the opinion of one or a hundred random people, would it really make you more successful in dating — and that's the true goal here, no?

Instead, I'd advise that you take a long look in the mirror and make up your own mind about your looks and whether there's anything you could reasonably do to look your best. It's definitely a good idea to put your best foot forward when dating, and feeling that you look your best will make you happier and more confident, which is attractive. Check out your figure, your skin, your hair, any eyewear, your grooming habits, your clothes, accessories and makeup and decide whether you'd like to upgrade any of them. If you need advice and assistance in improving any of those things, seek out a professional or just do your own homework.

And hold your head up. I've seen people with extremely problematic and unpleasant personalities and much less than model like looks find loving and happy relationships. There's truly someone for everyone — and probably many someones — if you can just find the person.
posted by orange swan at 9:18 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm guessing, from your profile, that you are a college student (which, combined with your having been in a relationship for many years, could mean you've never dated as an adult before). When you go out with friends, where are you going? Are you going to parties where all anyone wants to do is get drunk and hook up? If you're going places you don't feel comfortable, people are going to sense that, and it's not a good thing. Seek out places where people will be open to meeting people with common interests- houses of worship, volunteer gigs, campus extracurricular clubs, sports teams.

And FWIW, I wouldn't take the opinion of any of the people who are dying to play Beauty Judge. Impressing random internet strangers is not your goal and even getting tons of positive attention isn't going to fix your situation; I strongly urge you not to play that game.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:19 AM on March 18, 2010 [8 favorites]

I wish I had more constructive advice, but only post on Hotornot if you want to know whether you're attractive to the lowest common denominator.

(which is to say, you probably shouldn't)
posted by ripley_ at 9:21 AM on March 18, 2010

It is somewhat difficult to answer this question since you have not framed it for a specefic reason so i am going to answer it in a general way from a hetero male perspective. BTW by hollywood standards I am not leading man attractive-receding hair, kinda stocky. Probably more of the loser with a hot wife kinda guy. However my girlfriend(s) current one and past ones, seemed to have found me attractive enough. There is more to looks than how you look.

There is no objective assessment of how you look. Everyone has different preferences for beauty and attractiveness. These are very different things. I have met lots of women that across the room may be quite beautiful to me, but as soon as I talk to them there attractiveness can really plummet. Then there are women that may not catch my eye right away but as soon as I interact with them they become quiet beuatiful, I just didn't notice at first. They were always attractive though-i just didn't know them well enough to know that at first. Different people like different things. Here are numerous examples:

I personally don't really like the how Mustangs look(the car-pretty much every model) but it is one of the most popular cars ever, so my tastes are clearly in the minority. The car I have enjoyed owning most over the years (a subura brat) is due to memories and its utter functional utility at that point in my life and every time I see one I sigh a little at selling it and think it is one of the most beatiful cars ever.

I am not a fan of most of the models that fashion designers seem to prefer, which btw a lot of guys aren't either. I am not sure how a group of gay (not being homophobic here-dont really care) has convinced the nation that they should be the arbiters of hetero sexual attractiveness, I would not expect someone with such vastly different tastes than mine to look to me for what they find attractive.

How I decorate my house (my mom calls it austere junkyard-lots of tools and half done DIY projects)is certainly not how my girlfriend does it-we work it out.

So I think you are asking for something that just doesn't exist. There is no absolute beaty scale, people see things in different ways and place different values on things, and thing god they do. It makes the world interesting and gives us all something to talk about. Now if you want an honest assessment about how you could make yourself more attractive, find someone who is attractive to you, or similair to what you want to attract, but safe to approach about it (i.e. married, gay, whatever) make it utterly clear what you are asking about, and get advice on changing what you can.

If you are interested in becoming a model or something like that, ask an agent who is successful in the business and be prepared for you just aren't cut out for it. Sometimes life is harsh. I will never be an athelete-just don't have the talent for it, but i still enjoy being athletic.
posted by bartonlong at 9:21 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Actually, has been shown in a study to give facial attractiveness ratings similar to professional focus groups in this article by Devcic et al.

I don't think getting what you look like scored by the internet is going to help you in anyway though.
posted by demiurge at 9:27 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

There's such a huge difference between how you (the generic you) appear in a photo and how you present in person that I think getting "objective" opinions of your photo attractiveness isn't that useful, unless you're doing the internet dating site thing and not getting a whole lot of responses.

If this is really concerning you, I think the most productive thing to do would probably be to hire a personal shopper / stylist for a session. A good one will be able to give you feedback on the signals you're sending out with your clothes, your makeup, your haircut, your grooming, and your body language, while at the same time providing some ideas about how to modify those things to be more in line with what image you are trying to present. No good stylist is going to say "oh you look fine, don't change a thing, the guys who overlook you don't know what they're missing!" (which is what well-meaning friends and family are probably likely to do--after all, they know you so well they probably have a hard time separating presentation from substance) and at the same time is not going to give you non-useful ego-killing feedback like "LOL your nose is too big!" (which is a real danger with soliciting internet feedback from anonymous people who might get off on being cruel).

Look for a stylist that focuses on entire presentation, not just clothes--in other words, not your local Nordstrom's shopping assistant, but someone whose entire business is helping people re-vamp their look. I have some friends who have hired people like this and I think it runs around $100 per session.
posted by iminurmefi at 9:28 AM on March 18, 2010

Attractiveness is way the fuck more about how you carry yourself than your physical attributes.
posted by Jon_Evil at 9:30 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Women and men have different ideas about what female beauty should be. Beauty is a social construct anyway and I strongly believe that what women are acculturated to believe is pretty doesn't always translate well to being attractive to men. There are, also, a very wide range of male tastes for appearance and the importance guys put on it.

Which is all to say that working on your presentation, confidence, friendlyness and charisma are going to get you what you want much more quickly than a makeover. If you're allowed out of the house in the morning, there's some guy out there who's thought about approaching you. You just have to let him know you're looking too.
posted by bonehead at 9:40 AM on March 18, 2010

I broke up with someone after a long relationship and about a year later, when I looked back, I realized that I had totally forgotten how to flirt. I was so into the "LTR/running a house/working on career" grind, that I didn't remember how to be carefree and fun and happy. And that is a big part of what generally attracts people to someone.

Think of your friends or co-workers. Is there someone you know who's just always bubbly and happy and fun? Don't you like being around them? If you yourself aren't feeling especially bubbly and happy at the moment, think of that person and emulate them. As I said in another thread, fake it till you make it.

Also, something I observed about an old friend of mine who always had men swarming around her - she always asked people lots of questions about themselves. At a party, she would manage to talk to every single person there, male and female, and she would ask them all kinds of stuff about themselves, and they would come away from it loving her. She did this totally naturally - it wasn't fake, it's just how she is. She wasn't flirtatious, she just asked questions and listened. Consequently, although women wanted to hate her because she was so effortlessly popular, they couldn't, because she was interested in them, too.

And then, of course, self confidence is always attractive.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:44 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Not only is there no such thing as an objective assessment, not only is a photograph unable to convey presence, etc, but a photo can make you look great or terrible based purely on lighting or the skill of the photographer. I mean, email your pic to the people who are offering if you like, but there'll be nothing particularly valuable about their opinion. Even if their opinions on attractiveness are typical, they won't be judging an accurate representation of how you physically appear.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 9:48 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't think you're really going to get a useful answer from people looking at your photo. There's usually a big difference in how someone looks in person. You already sound pretty critical about your appearance; don't you think you would notice if there were something wrong? Yeah, a stylist could help you get a new, better look, but I doubt that's the issue too. I'm going to echo the others who say that it is more likely to be how you act rather than how you look. Someone who seems confident, receptive, and fun is going to get much more attention no matter what they look like.
posted by grouse at 9:53 AM on March 18, 2010

Maybe it's not necessarily looks. Are you quiet, shy, to yourself? You could also be so hot that you intimidate others. Or you're too smart where (no offense to your friends) they seem more approchable and you are out of the suitor's league?

I think you need to give a thought about the quality of guys they attract. I'm sure you're fine. Bars aren't known for super amazing, best quality in the world dating pickups.

I agree on the flirting. It helps. But don't go over the top then you wind up with people not really suited for you.

Good luck.
posted by stormpooper at 9:56 AM on March 18, 2010

What game warden says is totally true. I look like a haphazard dogface in most quickly snapped pictures, but when I look in the mirror, I think the reflection is pretty damn good.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:59 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I guess I'm wondering if there some kind of service or website or something I could go to? I know this is a weird and kind of narcissistic question, but I figured it couldn't hurt to ask.

There is such a website. You're on it! Post a link to a decent picture. By "decent" I mean one in which you look goodish but representative of yourself. Not a bad photo, but not one that looks abnormally magnificent either. If you're afraid to do this on Metafilter I suggest you should rethink the entire endeavor since while people would undoubtedly be honest, they would be a hell of a lot more tactful than most places.

Really. If you won't do it here, don't do it.
posted by Justinian at 10:06 AM on March 18, 2010

I don't think you're really going to get a useful answer from people looking at your photo. There's usually a big difference in how someone looks in person.

This is both true and, I think, sort of irrelevant. If people were going to look at a completely random photograph then it would be a problem. But if the OP can select the photograph she can find one that is moderately flattering but representative.
posted by Justinian at 10:08 AM on March 18, 2010

How would knowing if you're attractive help you get male attention?

If you are attractive and you're not getting attention, it is because of the way you carry yourself.

If you're not attractive and your not getting attention, the only thing you can do is to change the way you carry yourself.

Furthermore, if you are attractive and a bunch of people rate you as attractive, you run the risk of thinking your 'El Bombo' . Conversely............
posted by jasondigitized at 10:11 AM on March 18, 2010 [3 favorites]

Sorry....El Bombo = The Bomb = Hot Sh*t
posted by jasondigitized at 10:12 AM on March 18, 2010

I will cast my lot with previous posters--this is almost certainly the best possible group for feedback about your appearance on the internet. As a mid-20s male in a long term relationship, I'd be willing to participate in your little experiment should you see fit to pursue it.
posted by Phyltre at 10:13 AM on March 18, 2010

Someone who seems confident, receptive, and fun is going to get much more attention no matter what they look like.

Absolutely true, but as someone who has been all over the map attractiveness-wise over the years, I can tell you that it is a whole lot easier to act confident, receptive and fun when you know you look good.

I'd definitely go for a session with a stylist if you can afford it. If not, I have a couple of book suggestions that might help. Even though I wasn't entirely sure what I was doing wrong appearance-wise when I started on my quest for a makeover, I wound up made a lot of positive changes in my appearance over the course of a couple of months thanks to these books:

How Not to Look Old

Staging Your Comeback

Don't be put off by the titles if you're a young chicky, they're really more along the lines of how to look cute and non-frumpy. The first one in particular emphasizes going for a more natural look rather than trying to overdo, which is a mistake even some young women make when trying to go from wallflower to sex goddess.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:21 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Well, I've met you and I would like to think I'm a reasonably normal male, and without being overly creepy, I can assure you that whatever is going on it is not because you aren't attractive enough. Trust me, that is seriously not a problem for you. Even the super cute of the world have occasional slumps.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:21 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Take the male friends that you do have out (individually) on a 'friend date' specifically asking for their viewpoints about what they find attractive or not about your looks, personality, etc. Be specific and they will give you a lot of honest insight.
posted by Vaike at 10:22 AM on March 18, 2010

I can't help but wonder what you'll do if you find out the "problem" is some nearly-immutable part of yourself. Get plastic surgery? Unhealthy/drastic weight loss? Veneers on your teeth? Would you completely give up on any personal style you have if people tell you it's not working for them?

But anyway, if you're going out with friends to bars or clubs, it might just not be the right venue for you. It never is for me, particularly when I'm with groups of girls who I feel less confident around. I'd give online dating a shot, or maybe go to a few meet-ups or something. The college meat market isn't for everyone.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:26 AM on March 18, 2010

Mod note: few comments removed - no more lulz please, and don't bring profile information over here, thanks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:42 AM on March 18, 2010

If you want to email me your pic I, too, will give you an honest assessment and if I see problem areas I'll give you constructive criticism on ways to make them better. Include a face shot and a whole body shot.
posted by sickinthehead at 10:50 AM on March 18, 2010

Your problem is probably not your looks, if you're a student at UNC and the New York Times is at all accurate about the dismal dating situation at Chapel Hill.

You might be a victim of sheer numbers in a dating market that gives guys the upper hand. You will probably fare much better after college when you are no longer in such a competitive area for women. As you age and leave the area, you will find more men willing to consider the whole package instead of immature guys that want to use their advantage to sleep with as many girls as possible.
posted by slow graffiti at 10:55 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

To answer your spoken question, I suggest linking to video of yourself, in daylight, talking to someone in-frame, about something funny. I, and many others, will be happy to judge your hotness! But I think it's pretty clear that this is going to be basically useless to you.

To answer your unspoken question of "what can I do to make myself more attractive to men?" why aren't your friends backing you up? Make sure they understand that you're learning the flirting ropes, and ask them to help you out. Clearly, since you say they attract male attention, they're doing something right. So ask them to show you what they're doing. It is a poor friend who won't dial it down and play wingman to a lady in need. "Say, hot guy I've just attracted with my wiles," shouts best friend over the noise at the bar, "have you met my friend Liz? She's got the coolest haircut, don't you think? Oh, excuse me, I have to go powder my nose." Repeat as needed, with varying levels of intelligent variation.
posted by Mizu at 10:56 AM on March 18, 2010

Frankly, it seems like every time I go out with my friends, I am ignored by guys in favor of them.

My first thought is, do you actually care to know these men, or are you just feeling unpopular? It could be that you don't attract guys that you just as well don't want to attract and that, when out with friends, you aren't meeting guys you do and would want to attract.

With that out of the way, the only thing that immediately changes my opinion of the image (picture) of a person to the reality of a person is what type of person they immediately remind me of. This is based on mannerisms, posture, timbre of their voice, habits (smokes, bites nails, etc), and style. As I get to know someone, that can change, but most of the immediate impression is gleaned within a few seconds of meeting someone.

So (based solely on my subjective sense of attractiveness), if an attractive person smokes, they are now unattractive. If an attractive person shows easy confidence without a sense of entitlement, they become much more attractive. Be rude to a waiter, unattractive. Have a fashion sense that shows a bit of independence, much more attractive.

You just can't go by looks. It's the whole package. And what would attract me, likely would not attract guys who hang out in bars chatting up a group of women. I will leave it to the reader as to how that paints me or bar blokes.
posted by qwip at 11:01 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I suspect that you are simply out of practice at attracting male attention and appearing approachable.

In a bar full of attractive women, there are always a few who really know how captivate a room. It's not always the prettiest girl or the smartest or funniest. It's a learned skill. Watch those women and see what they are doing that you aren't. It can be things as simple as how long they look someone in the eye and how warmly they smile.

Here are a few items to study:

Watch their body position. One foot back, slight body turn often creates a very attractive shape for a woman. It's hard to describe, but if you're watching for it you'll see it. Watch how your friends appear open to the room.

Clothes and accessories. I think this matters far more to women than to men. However, it's worth looking at what works. Generally, well fitted, unfussy and touchable are good. (Ditto for makeup.) Be careful about schlepping a large, heavy bag while often will throw off your stride.

Proximity. If you want to meet new people you need to be on the edge of the group. Also, make sure you walk around on your own a bit. Few men are going to approach a wall of women, but would be happy to introduce themselves if they didn't need to go through a gauntlet of your friends.

Voice. Can people hear you when you speak? This is especially true in a bar or party environment. Sometimes you need to adjust your pitch a bit. It's really hard for a guy to continue speaking to you if he can't understand your response.

Those are just a few ideas. I don't think it's attractiveness as much as it's poise and how you carry yourself.
posted by 26.2 at 11:02 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

You don't say where this attention-getting is occurring, so I'll assume it's a bar and point out that many, MANY times I've seen unattractive women get more attention from men than beautiful women because, frankly, guys will hit on the women they think they can screw easier.

Also, if you want to attract attention, offer it. Make the first move.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:09 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

every time I go out with my friends, I am ignored by guys in favor of them

Could this also be an issue of having super cute friends? If you're cute, but your friends are cuter, case closed. This used to happen to me all the time and although I'm good-looking, two of my female friends are particularly beautiful. Solution: go out with uglier friends (joke) or figure out what they're doing right.
posted by dino might at 12:42 PM on March 18, 2010

Assuming that you are not really ugly (like very overweight etc.) it is much more likely that your behavior that is unattractive to guys. Guys are easily intimidated by a very pretty girl. An average looking girl might get much more hits since more guys will think they have a chance. I remember that when I went out with a girl that I considered average looking (at best) that tons of guys hit on here. It was unbelievable. Another friend of mine that I would describe fairly as "fat, ugly and on the older site" always dates decent young fellas (online dating). Hence IMHO it is unlikely for A WOMEN ,with even slightly below average looks, not to get hit on.

And by the way, if you want to meet guys in places like bars you should hang out in a small group. Probably two girls works best.

Do you have by chance a good career? I know plenty of women in NYC that played the game "sex and the city" too long. They are very successful, established career, money, very pretty, nicely dressed but a little bit on the older site for getting children (end 30ies, beginning 40ies). They have really hard times finding a mate. Why? Nobody will be good enough.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 12:45 PM on March 18, 2010

Here's the thing:

Its totally normal to want an objective assessment of physical attractiveness. Unfortunately, outside of 'social science' actual objective analysis cannot reliably occur.

Wear what you like, dress comfortably but also pay attention to yourself and dress how you would if you were going on a date with yourself and you wanted to make an impression.

Finally, keep an eye out for guys that interest you and then talk to them. Get them off to the side of the group and listen and learn about them while sharing your thoughts. They will enjoy it.

Sorry I did not answer the direct question but I think lateral answers are the right ones in this case -how postmodern.

Also, second the small groups, huge groups become alpha contests sometimes; not necessarily intentionally but it happens.
posted by occidental at 12:51 AM on March 19, 2010

Joining this thread rather late, but if it's a wardrobe issue, rather than a face or shape issue, say, there's also this newish, just-between-girlfriends-kinda-advisory site Go Try It On.
posted by taramosalata at 8:17 AM on May 6, 2010

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