You're so vain, you probably think this question is about you.
January 21, 2011 4:12 PM   Subscribe

How do you get over being unattractive? I've never dealt with image issues before, but I've been increasingly aware of my appearance.

I'm a male, and I have no body issues. I'm fit and never had problems with anything related to weight. I noticed previous questions about image issues seemed to deal with this a lot.

I never had problems with my looks until about a year ago. I was looking through Facebook pictures and in a brief moment of non-recognition I saw someone and thought, "Who is that dorky looking guy?" In the brief time it took me to process that insult, I realized that dorky looking guy was me. I was kind of taken back, but assumed it was a bad photo.

If it ended there I wouldn't be here, but I've caught myself doing it more and more. It is to the point where it is hard to look at a photo of myself. It could be that I am just not that used to looking at photos of myself, and perhaps Facebook is a large part of this. I no longer, or very rarely log into it anymore, but I found myself in social settings feeling very aware of myself. I'll think, "She's too attractive," and otherwise have seemed to have lost my sense of male bravado.

Some part of this might be due to being in my mid-20s and for the first time having extended periods of social downtime, where I'm not going out to parties and clubs, flirting with women every weekend.

I must not be the first person to experience this, right? I realize this sounds really vain, but that's why it is anonymous.
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (43 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
This is not the uplifting answer you were looking for, but....

Basically you have to find your USP or Unique Selling Proposition (in advertising terms). Not everybody has a nice looking face, that's just life and no amount of bitching will fix it (although money and plastic surgery can help for the truly desperate).

Beyond that, focus on what else you have to offer. Are you buff? If not get to be seriously in shape. Think about all the girls you've thought about having sex with because of their bodies even if they aren't the hottest. Now turn the tables--see my point?

If you have money, well, some girls go for that and whether you like that type is your personal preference.

Do you have a magnetic personality that draws people to you? Then take faith in that.

You get my point--basically you play the hand you are dealt and you improve the areas you have direct control over. Some girls care more about physical appearance than others, and ultimately you need to decide what kind of person you want--someone who cares about your looks or someone who doesn't care at all. And I don't mean that in the traditional sense...there's nothing wrong at all with wanting someone who's physically attracted to you, and I'm sure many people (myself included), want to be with someone who finds them hot. But if it just isn't in the cards, there are girls that don't care as much.

Hope that cut to the chase enough for ya--and good luck.
posted by Elminster24 at 4:18 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Dudes with unusual or non-traditionally-hunky faces who have probably had more dates than either you or I ever will: Steve Buscemi, John C. Reilly, Nick Nolte, and one of my own personal heroes, the late Elliot Smith, whose face could frankly stop a clock.

Have you ever looked at Jay-Z? Like really looked at him? What about Jerry Seinfeld?

You look funny and dorky to yourself because it's your own face. If you have an eye-catching mug, that is nothing but a gold-plated Advantage, and you should start looking at it that way.
posted by chaff at 4:21 PM on January 21, 2011 [8 favorites]

Attractiveness and unattractiveness isn't like, a universal definition kind of thing. I've been insecure about my looks pretty much all my life--my husband loves them. He, on the other hand, doesn't think much of his looks, but I'm very attracted to him.

Everyone has their own insecurities. Everyone also has a different idea of what's attractive to them. Think less about others' and your own looks, and more about the person behind the visage--both yours and theirs.

Of course there's always therapy as a backup option, and I'm sure someone else will suggest it. But really. Just remember that insecurity is like, a requirement of the human condition.
posted by litnerd at 4:23 PM on January 21, 2011 [4 favorites]

It's possible you just don't photograph well. Seriously.

And it's been said a million times before, but it bears repeating: confidence is sexy. In fact, it's probably the ultimate aphrodisiac.
posted by MexicanYenta at 4:24 PM on January 21, 2011 [6 favorites]

Different gender but you are certainly not the first person to experience this.
posted by godshomemovies at 4:25 PM on January 21, 2011

Just to address the last part of your query first: caring about your personal appearance is not vanity. Vanity is when you value your appearance and its' maintenance above the more important things in life. Friends and family and personal development all that good stuff.

Considering that, you don't have to get over feeling "unattractive," if you feel that is your only option. Now, you can remain looking dorky. No one is forcing you not to be. Plenty of people are perfectly content with looking dorky and they are no less loved or successful for the fact. But if you don't like it, it is something you can fix.

First, realize that being attractive is not some bestowed quality. It is something you work at and maintain. You say you're fit, which means you probably work out. You know how to maintain your body. Maintaining your appearance is very similar, but is about aesthetics. Right now, your sense of aesthetics is underdeveloped, like a limp muscle. If you wish to, you can work at developing it.

Read this SucceedSocially article as it is a great introduction to taking care of your appearance and assumes you're starting from square one. Then decide if you want to keep going. Again, you don't have to be a dude in a $5000 suit, or the latest style jeans or even anything you don't want to be. Anyone can get their appearance in order if they wish to, and I speak from the experience of a dude who, for a long time, did not give two shits about what he was wearing (which was usually plain jeans and an XL band t-shirt) to a dude who, well, cares.
posted by griphus at 4:25 PM on January 21, 2011 [5 favorites]

I have the same problem with how I see my self in photos. I think I look pretty good in person, then I see a photo and cannot believe that it is me.

My solution, I have a friend who is a photographer and I am going to ask her to help me be more confident in pictures, learn how to smile for the camera.

Regarding the she's too attrcative statement, try to never assume someone is too attractive for you. So many people sit home alone (both good looking and more plain) because it takes so much courage to ask someone out. I suggest you ask away, regardless of looks, you can only get a yes, if you ask. Personality is a HUGE plus, good looks can only take you so far.
posted by jennstra at 4:25 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Also for the love of god do not take any advice on how to be "more attractive" from pick-up artist manuals. Just don't.
posted by griphus at 4:30 PM on January 21, 2011 [10 favorites]

Confidence is the sexy part, and some people might need "something" to gain that confidence with. Be it physical fitness through working out and having a nice physical features, to being artistic, playing in a band, be politically active, or even your geek factors. While it should not totally define you, if you can eek out some passion or dedication in something you do, it certainly gives you confidence.

Thankfully, not every totally cares about physical looks... how many people do you know that date or fell in love with people with just a personality they enjoy rather than their hot face? Are you in a company of strangely attractive people? Or do you just not photograph well? There are personalities and lifestyles for everyone.

Chill out, do what you like to do, gain some confidence, go out and socialize in areas where you can mingle with ladies and it will come.

However if you still really want to enhance your look -- try dressing nicer. Get a great haircut, trim your eyebrows, etc. It sounds a bit metro but even people that are not attractive can become a lot more attractive if they are not sloppy and more stylish.
posted by xtine at 4:31 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Man, when it comes to physical attractiveness, us guys have this way too easy. Turns out it doesn't really matter what we look like. Of course, with the importance we can sometimes place on the attractiveness of women, we assume they place the same importance on us.

For us, it's all about our attitude. Our inner game. Our confidence and humour. That's the struggle for us. To be better men. Not vain little boys.

If you're well groomed, you can have an eye missing. Shit, some girls may consider an eye patch hot! They're freaks, women. I don't get it myself, but praise my metaphorical Lord that they're made that way.

Develop your inner game my man, no one cares what you look like, dancing or otherwise.
posted by ImsoAeriginal at 4:35 PM on January 21, 2011 [15 favorites]

There are many online guides for simple, classic manly dress, grooming and exercise habits. Here's one, as a for example. Pick one and follow it. When in doubt, focus on the basics.

So you didn't win the genetic lottery. Neither did I, very few of us schmucks do. But I think my wife is smokin' hot, and I have no idea what she sees in me, so apparently I had something right going on.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:39 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

Really, really don't worry about having a less than conventionally attractive face. In a straight couple, most women want to be the pretty one.
posted by Tylwyth Teg at 4:43 PM on January 21, 2011 [11 favorites]

Lots of good advice thus far, but one more thing: remember that people look inherently more attractive when they are doing what they enjoy. I once had a woman from work come onto me because she said I looked sexy when I was intent on my job and obviously enjoying what I was doing. (This would never happen now because I no longer like my job, ha ha.)

So, think about what you are good at and enjoy doing, either work or hobby. Of course, self-consciously trying to bring about this effect would probably kill it. So, forget you ever read this post.
posted by zachawry at 4:46 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

For me it depends on the day, the lighting, the angle, the amount of caffeine I've ingested, and how my day is going such that when I look in the mirror my instant judgement is either "Oh I look like crap" or "Hey there good lookin'!" Okay I don't really say that but you know what I mean.

In any case, how do you react when you see someone new for the first time? Do you judge their appearance immediately? I tend to do this and it then carries over into my own self evaluation. I assume people are evaluating me the same way I evaluate them. Unfortunately this isn't always the case but my brain doesn't realize that when I look in the mirror.

So maybe start paying attention to how you interpret others' looks and decide to step back and not judge so quickly. It might change how you see yourself as well.
posted by thorny at 4:46 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Serious answer, hit the gym, bulk up, put on some muscle. You say you're fit now, but people who add muscle and lose fat just look different in the face. Maybe pick up a few outdoorsy activities and get a tan. Try a new hairstyle the fits your face, some haircuts soften features and some seem to harden them.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:48 PM on January 21, 2011

I was just listening to the podcast done by Kevin Smith and his wife Jen Schwalbach. She is a gorgeous, intelligent Amazon and he's...well, Silent Bob. He was talking about his weight loss and wasn't comfortable revealing his starting weight. They've been married for a long time and they have sex constantly. He's smart, confident and capable, and in her own words, that's why his wife fell for him.
posted by lhall at 4:55 PM on January 21, 2011

Learn to dress yourself. Start by thinking of the sort of people you admire and what they wear. That will start giving you some confidence in your appearance. After time, as you begin to combine the influences of others, and get feedback on your new look, you will begin to develop your own style. That's when you really come into your own.

Give yourself restrictions as well. My own style began to evolve when I made a solemn oath never to be seen in public in a t-shirt again. That gave the the motivation to really take the way I looked seriously, and the restriction preventing me from going with the easy option forced me to be more creative. Not that you should make the same oath. T-shirts are quite popular, and there are people who can really pull them off. You might be one of them. I don't know. But find a way to force yourself out of your comfort zone, whatever it is.

Also, just as a quick start: Girls notice shoes. Get good shoes. It won't really boost your confidence right away, because you probably don't understand the importance of good shoes yet, but it will effect the way that others treat you.
posted by yeolcoatl at 4:55 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Afterthought: Get yourself measured and buy clothes that fit. Even the same clothes, in your size and cut to flatter you, will make a big improvement.
posted by yeolcoatl at 4:58 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I walk with a limp. Back in the day, I used to catch my reflexion in a mirror by accident and have what you describe as the moment of non-recognition... being repulsed by what I saw. This kinda sucked.

People above have been suggesting (1) it doesn't matter and/or (2) make things better (gym, dress, whatever). What I would suggest, and perhaps what thorny is saying, is that attractiveness isn't all in the first moment: attractiveness is learned. Learn to like your own body, to know what it is, to know what it's like, and to appreciate it. (Other people can help with this process. Someone said that to me that I walk like I'm dancing. Well, that's a nicer way of looking at it that limping, right?)

How boring the world would be if attractiveness were absolute, and that we had nothing more to look at after the first glance at someone.
posted by squishles at 5:21 PM on January 21, 2011 [4 favorites]

Also remember that being photogenic and being attractive in real life can be two different things. An acquaintance photographs beautifully no matter what the lighting, but when you see her in real life she looks anorexic with an overly large head. I've known other people who are stunning in real life, but all their pictures end up brutal.
posted by benzenedream at 5:22 PM on January 21, 2011 [6 favorites]

I have always thought that I have a face that could stop a clock. It used to bother me at one time... but no more. It's me. That's the way God put me together, and he did so for a reason. I wouldn't be who I am unless I looked in the mirror and saw the same, wretched, misbegotten face staring back each morning. My wife loves me. My customers still buy my stuff, despite my crooked nose, crooked lip, and neanderthal-like unibrow. I am fat, I am less than 5 and a half feet tall... and I simply don't care. The short guy always wins. Always.
posted by brownrd at 5:24 PM on January 21, 2011 [6 favorites]

A thought: photographs do not capture truth. They do not represent reality. They are very particular constructions that require our interpretation, even if they are depicting something as basic and familiar as ourselves. Viewing photographs is a highly interactive process.

So...I dunno. What exactly do you mean by seeing a "dorky looking guy?" Why did that come to you instead of another assessment? What does that even mean, especially since "dorky" seems to more describe a personality trait than basic physical appearances?

Much of how we view ourselves in photos comes from how we are feeling about ourselves at the time of the viewing. Just a thought.

(two practical notes: some attractive people just do not translate well on film. and sometimes photos let us see our outfits in a way that is difficult to while we are wearing them - this is how I discovered a couple of years ago that I was accessorizing with so much jewelry and scarves and shit that I was making myself look like a damn christmas tree. But hooray! That is an easy fix!)
posted by vivid postcard at 5:24 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

You say you've "lost your sense of male bravado." Good for you--that makes you much more attractive already. That "sense of male bravado" is actually quite a big turn-off to me and lots of other women. With that out of the way, you have a chance to relax and let your personality attract compatible people. Be especially skeptical of the temptation to work out a lot and develop big, gaudy muscles, unless you want to project superficiality and self-absorption.
posted by Corvid at 5:39 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

Woah woah WOAH! Time out. Seriously. There are so many problems here, but the biggest one is:

You don't really know who will find you attractive. You are, most likely, someone's type, and it's entirely possible that those people are people who you will find attractive.

Why am I so sure? Because that's how things are for most humans, and the chances are extremely high that you are most humans. You have made the mistake of interpreting a bit of confusion and momentary dislike regarding one picture of yourself into the idea that you are not attractive. That is a HUGE leap. One does not follow from the other—does not compute, not logical, not good thinking. You've thought yourself into this corner. Your degree of attraction, as others have pointed out, is different depending on the day, how you're feeling, acting, what you're doing, and most importantly, who is actually interacting with you and what they're thinking. Which you don't really know, and can't really ever know until you ask them or they volunteer that information. Therefore most of the time you won't know.

This is all to say, you are in a profound state of ignorance, so why is the cup half empty? It could just as easily be half full, and moreover, probably is, and definitely should be.

Some part of this might be due to being in my mid-20s and for the first time having extended periods of social downtime, where I'm not going out to parties and clubs, flirting with women every weekend.

posted by dubitable at 5:40 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

Apparently I went from being semi-invisible at work to needing to pull out the DESO pen (workplace harrassmrnt / conflict resolution mumbo jumbo) after I resolved to wear a tie, dress shirt and dress shoes from here on out. Several of the ladies appriached me individually and complimented me all of a sudden, and I did it in jest, but it was also a bit weird.

TL;DT: Clothes make the man. Improve your wardrobe and people will notice you in a positive light.

In my mind, I am not particularly attractive - more gooofy than handsome.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:42 PM on January 21, 2011

Some of the hottest guys I've ever known were not conventionally attractive. Some of them were in fact, on a superficial level, actually kinda ugly. So what made them so hot? Mostly they were smart and funny and comfortable with themselves. And they took the time to keep themselves reasonably neat and clean.

The biggest thing -- as most of the people replying before me have said in more or fewer words -- is being comfortable in your own skin.

How do you do that? That's fodder for another couple dozen paragraphs, at least. ;-)
posted by rhartong at 5:53 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

You can change your appearance in lots of ways that might help you look more like what you want to look like. Different haircut, different clothing styles, different glasses or contacts if you're currently wearing glasses, different facial hair, different color hair, having your eyebrows professionally groomed--

I mean, yeah, you don't want to get all Michael Jackson and constantly be carving yourself up, but "dorky" isn't carved in stone. Self-presentation is another form of self-expression.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:01 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Are you actually unattractive/"dorky-looking", or do you just not photograph well? This may be a difficult question to actually answer, but if your logical side can do anything to help your emotional side, thinking about it may help. Photographs do not accurately represent three-dimensional reality. A photograph tends to flatten the face, and lighting can affect a lot of how we end up looking in a picture.

Look at yourself in the mirror. Wear something nice (dress up, try a suit and tie if you have them, as mentioned above) and think of your proudest moment. Then look at yourself. Still goofy? Still unattractive?

Mirrors don't show us how we look to other people, either, though. Do you have a trusted friend? Ask what they think would most improve your appearance. People have told you lots of things you could change, but since we don't know you we can't tell you what to do.

Grooming and hygiene, posture and carriage, mood and emotion...these are the things people will notice and first and will really help people to find you attractive. Your actual facial features, unless they're particularly exaggerated, aren't going to be a huge turnoff for most people.
posted by asciident at 6:41 PM on January 21, 2011

Cultivate a wining personality. Really, the way you look is not that important in the long run. Be well groomed, nicely dressed, kind, and considerate. That will matter more. If you have a truly disfiguring abnormal face, perhaps you need to see a surgeon. But this is probably not your problem. I think Adrian Brody is great looking and he as a majorly huge nose which by itself is kind of ugly. I once saw a mock up of what he would look like with a "nice" nose. He really looked great, but very blah and normal. His ugly nose makes him interesting.

As for photographs, meh, most people look awful in photographs. Additionally, we see ourselves at looking odd in photographs because we are used to seeing ourselves in mirrors (mirror image), in photographs you image is reversed from your mirror image. It can be disconcerting.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 7:38 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I, for one, think that the kind of photos we often wind up of ourselves on FB make most of us look horrible. Cell phone cameras, or even the usual el-cheapo snapshot digital camera, candid shots when we're not ready. These kind of camera and lighting setups usually make me look like a bloated corpse, and I'm relatively satisfied with my facial appearance and the way I photograph when someone who knows what they're doing takes my picture.

I also know many people whom I've thought "they're rather beautiful/handsome" and then noticed they don't photograph well. Actually, I noticed this to my horror at least once. I had a female employee whom I considered attractive (still do, although she doesn't work for me anymore) and I needed a "lifestyle model" (as opposed to a fashion model) to get some picture of clothes done sort of on the cheap (client had no budget). Had a pro photographer shoot her wearing the clothes. I don't know how else to say this - she didn't look good at all, in my opinion. Used the photos anyway, and the world didn't end, but it was a lesson learned. Several lessons, actually - one of which is - I think our expectations of photos are set rather high by all the professional pictures of very genetically gifted models and celebrities we see. There's a reason these people get paid to get their picture taken.

As has been said above, even if the worst is true and you're frankly ugly, this is not what makes people care about to be your friend or even to get romantic with you. By the way, ladies, this is true for you too.
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:02 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Know who I think is one of the sexiest guys in Hollywood? This goofy-looking motherfucker. Why? Because every role I've seen him in, he's been smart and funny and confident and that's what I'm attracted to. Maybe he looks like dough with glasses, but I totally don't care, because he has the kind of attitude that I like.

Of all the guys I've dated or crushed on... if you asked me to describe them, I wouldn't say "oh man he was so hot." I would say, he was so funny, or he knew all about X subject, or he knew how to play x instrument, or he was the kindest person... that is what people actually care about. Really. "Hotness" is WAY the fuck down on my list of desirable male traits. I've known a lot of hot douchebags in my day.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:02 PM on January 21, 2011 [5 favorites]

I think I'm funny-lookin', but my husband is quite attractive. He thinks I'm gorgeous, but that he looks like a dork. Meanwhile, we are both aware that plenty of other people have found each of us attractive. Doesn't make either of us feel all that awesome about ourselves, but it is at least instructive. There may or may not be Someone For Everyone (TM). But odds are there are plenty of people for you. You may still hate what you see in the mirror, but that doesn't mean everybody else does.
posted by Because at 9:07 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's possible you just don't photograph well. Seriously.

This. I have a friend (considered very attractive, plays pro football no less!) who looks great in person, but when he is photographed he looks like a deranged street person. But he is confident. And the ladies love it.

As others have said, confidence is hot.
posted by bolognius maximus at 9:08 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Both my wife and past girlfriends have mentioned that they find guys like Steve Buschemi and Dave Alvin of The Blasters unaccountably hot. Rather than dwelling upon what this might say about me, I instead just give thanks that the world works this way.
posted by zombiedance at 10:51 PM on January 21, 2011

It's hard to tell anything about how attractive you are from pictures of yourself. I once knew a woman who was drop-dead gorgeous in person... the kind of gorgeous where men would knock over chairs to get to her the second she walked into the room, strangers would leave love notes on her car, etc. And yet she doesn't photograph well. In pictures she comes off looking kind of... dorky. For real. I couldn't believe it the first time I saw it.

Lots of perfectly ok-looking people don't photograph well, and as far as I can tell most people don't like the way they look in pictures even when other people think they look fine. I LOATHE seeing myself in pictures. I always look fatter, older and uglier than I remember being. Yet I get flirted with a lot, I've been married three times, I regularly get told I look like a certain actress who is kind of offbeat attractive... so who knows. It seems I can't trust what I see in pictures. Apparently a certain percentage of the people I meet think I'm at least somewhat attractive. If I judged solely by what my pictures look like I'd never leave the house.

I also wanted to nth what others are saying about dorky, unusual, quirky people being hot. I've had crushes on people who were downright homely to look at, because something about them was appealing other than just straight-up beauty/handsomeness.... maybe the way they carried themselves, or an endearing lopsided grin, or adorable mannerisms. It definitely helps if you dress reasonably well, stand up straight and flirt a little.

And finally, my favorite piece of advice from Justin Halpern's dad, of "Shit My Dad Says" fame, regarding a man thinking a woman is out of his league: "Son, let women figure out why they won’t screw you. Don’t do it for them."
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 1:30 AM on January 22, 2011 [4 favorites]

1. Maybe you don't photograph well.

2. Maybe you don't judge photos of yourself accurately.

3.You make the best of your appearance and get an acting coach to make the best of how you speak and move. Buy a Miss Manners book to make sure you are treating others in the best possible way.

I warn against use of PUA material. I once knew a suave, polite, handsome guy who - after knowing me for a long time and building my trust - did a PUA routine on me so I would fall for him. I did and shattered into a million pieces. Instead of doing something worthwhile about it like making a move under conditions acceptable to me. he pushed the envelope with more PUA bullshit, and then more, and then more until I saw that he had become such an utter unrepentant douchecopter as to be literally impossible to relate to. The moral of that story is that a handsome man can behave away his attractiveness by being himself, so the reverse process has got to be true for guys of average appearance.
posted by tel3path at 3:16 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

You may be disparagingly saying "who is this dorky-looking guy" but if I saw that picture I would be saying "WHO IS THAT HOT DORKY-LOOKING GUY AND HOW DO I MEET HIM!?!?". Obviously not every dorky-looking guy in the world does it for me but quite a fair number. My friends tease me about my unconventional standards of beauty and hotness but I'm happy with it (less competition!) :).

I love when dorky-looking guys wear nice clothes, as stated above. Especially if they're in shape but really as long as the clothes fit well (fitted, not tight, not too baggy) it's great.

Women are, I believe, more diverse in what types of hotness they find attractive. Not everyone is into the hunky lifeguard look, not by a long shot. Be interesting, be confident. Be happy. That's sexy.
posted by amicamentis at 6:17 AM on January 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

You've fallen into a self-conscious feedback loop. The short answer: get over it.

I'm just repeating things people have said here, but (a) the camera can be horribly unforgiving, (b) dorky can be swoon worthy, and (c) its good to care about your appearance, but don't be preoccupied by your appearance.

That male machismo thing is grade A bullshit. Often women will smile and be polite even if a man is making them uncomfortable, and said man then think sexually aggressive PUA bullshit 'works' because she was polite. Don't be that guy.

Also don't be that guy in the gym working out for a beach body. Work out, or do sport, or whatever because being fit makes just getting throguh your day easier, and feeling fit and healthy is a great confidence booster on its own.

Dress well, smell good, and remember the camera is a bitch.
posted by nerdfish at 9:07 AM on January 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

and one of my own personal heroes, the late Elliot Smith, whose face could frankly stop a clock.

I didn't get past this line in the responses because I wanted to say how much I disagree with it. He's not 'stereotypically hunky', but he's not ugly at all by my estimation. My point there is that whether or not you think you're attractive, chances are good someone else does.

Really, are you the one looking at yourself all day? Nope. I would also like to add that anyone who isn't attracted to you, probably hasn't noticed much. If they have thought "hey that guy is dorky", that was the end of it, and they've long moved on and forgotten. There are very few ugly faces that have stuck with me. So few, in fact, that I can't muster a memory. Most people are normal, beautiful humans in their own right. Even the lower end of average people tend to become more attractive as you get to know them and their unique and wonderful quirks. Obviously, your problems with your looks aren't your looks, but your perception of your entire self. As PPs have pointed out, find something that is special to you and own it. Take comfort in the fact that exceptionally physically attractive people will get old and ugly and broken. Beauty doesn't last, but a strong personality will define you for a lifetime.
posted by sunshinesky at 10:23 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm ugly AND dorky-looking AND photograph poorly, but I'm lucky (I guess) that I've always known it thanks to a serious acne problem at age 10. I agree with all those above who say it's less about what you look like and more about your attitude about it. I also agree that you can overcome facial unattractiveness in any number of other ways, just by focusing on the positives.

I've dated models, strippers, and pretty much anyone else I've ever wanted to because I have long hair and work out and (in my younger days) rode a motorcycle. In a way, we're fortunate: Sad to say, I think this is something easier for men to overcome than for women.

Also, don't just dress well; dress to your body type. There are some looks that skinny guys can pull off that normal guys can't, and vice versa. And get your shirts tailored.
posted by coolguymichael at 10:46 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

All good advice - and I'll repeat that many, many women like dorky looking guys!! Especially women who are a bit older and more confident in their own sense of what is attractive. I will also repeat that looks are the least important thing in a man - being smart, funny, confident all rank higher in my book. Being easy to talk to fun to spend time with? Even better.

And let me say (as a woman) I find totally buff guys disgusting (repulsive in fact) so before you go down that path make sure it's going to attract the kind of woman you would actually want to date. (I'm picturing someone from the Jersey Shore, and if that's your style, great!)
posted by rainydayfilms at 11:03 AM on January 22, 2011

When I found myself in a similar situation of feeling awkward about my looks, especially in photos, it took me a good long while to realize that it was because I don't look like any of my friends. At all. So really, being "unattractive" was an issue of being different from the faces that happened to surround me. I began to look for the features I didn't like in myself in others, on the street, at work, wherever, and I realized that a lot of people do have similar features to mine, and they don't look all that goofy or unattractive or different at all.
posted by syanna at 4:39 PM on January 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

As someone who has (and still does, on occasion) tweaked "hot" celebrity images before publication, let me assure you that nobody looks as good as the magazine images you'll find at your local newsstand -- not even the celebrities themselves. They all have their share of moles, freckles, stretch marks, jowls, pimples, splotchy complexions, birth marks, muffin tops, and all manner of "unattractive" physical defects to deal with... just like you and me. The only difference is they have a team of people working for them to make sure that only the very best pictures of them get released to the public (paparazzi shots notwithstanding).

Relax. Very few people you know in real life photograph well. Seriously. Don't waste your time agonizing over something so trivial; nurture and strive to develop the gifts that you've been given and you'll project an aura of confidence and sincerity that others will envy. If your main concern is looking better in photos, you can improve this by looking at yourself in a mirror under various lighting conditions and practicing different poses (although, personally, I find this a bit silly -- that's what celebrities do).
posted by LuckySeven~ at 5:06 PM on January 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

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