Help me stop thinking about hot girls
April 29, 2012 10:14 PM   Subscribe

I get obsessed with pretty girls to the point that they get distracting. How do I stop and does this mean something more? (I am female.)

I've noticed that not only do I look up pictures of female celebrities and models a lot, I also think about them at the frequency that one thinks about a crush. I didn't think of it more than a fan girl thing-- I knew that women like Scarlett Johansson (conventionally attractive) have both male and female fans. (I'd also be obsessed with models like Karlie Kloss.)

Last year, I became a big Korean pop fan and was into all the girl groups-- specifically Girls' Generation, which is known for having beautiful girls (well.. most Korean female celebrities are.) I would think about them A LOT-- so much that it became distracting and one of the only things I talked about with friends and new people I meet. Sometimes I'd also obsessively look at the facebook photos of my girl friends (especially in clubbing outfits/ dresses). These are all distracting when I should be concentrating on work.

My question is-- how do I stop? And is this normal at all? I feel sometimes feel skeevy looking at all these photos, and the thing that gets me is sometimes I'd think, "I can see guys wanting to be with her, she's so feminine/cute!" I feel shallow essentially checking girls out and I would like to stop doing this, because while I keep doing it, in a sober/ clear-headed moment this makes me skin scrawl and is not something I'd like my friends/family to know I do. And as a girl, I don't want to be more interested in girls because they are wearing skimpy outfits/ look hot-- I would be thinking like a teenage boy and that's NOT me.

How do I stop my creepy behavior/ thoughts? Does this mean any more than being a fangirl for female celebrities/ pretty girls?

(mods, I may want to anonymize this later)
posted by ichomp to Human Relations (26 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Potentially relevant: do you consider yourself straight, gay, bi, uncertain, or something else?
posted by mollymayhem at 10:19 PM on April 29, 2012

These are all distracting when I should be concentrating on work.

Is your work particularly boring?

Sometimes I'd also obsessively look at the facebook photos of my girl friends

Do you mean sexually or do you mean out of interest?

in a sober/ clear-headed moment this makes me skin scrawl and is not something I'd like my friends/family to know I do

Do they have to know? I mean, I think most people do things they don't want anyone else to know about - they just keep it on the down-low.

And as a girl, I don't want to be more interested in girls because they are wearing skimpy outfits/ look hot-- I would be thinking like a teenage boy and that's NOT me.

Why would it be so bad if you were checking out women sexually? Even if you identify with being straight?
posted by mleigh at 10:25 PM on April 29, 2012

I consider myself straight in that my crushes have been guys, but lately things like what I described make me a little uncertain. I don't want to say I am gay or bi because the way I like girls is very shallow. (I am friends with girls for their personality too, but sometimes I'd be really interested in a girl because of their looks.) I have normal friendships with girls without the weird attraction too.

I want to note that I don't obsess about male celebrities or models though, even when I've tried to.
posted by ichomp at 10:28 PM on April 29, 2012

Women are socialized to find physical attraction unnecessary, shallow, stuck-up, or bitchy, so we tend to disregard it and choose people who we "should" like, regardless of physical attraction. Good women don't care about looks, is the idea.

It sounds like you have a bad case of that, because really, it's okay to care about looks and be physically attracted to other people. It's a totally valid basis of romantic attraction. "Love at first sight" doesn't mean "they looked nice and smart", it means "damn, they are fine".

That said, if you think it's not sexual/romantic, then think about talking to a therapist. If you think it's sexual/romantic but that it's wrong, then I suggest thinking about whether it's kind to yourself to feel ashamed of such a natural human impulse.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:40 PM on April 29, 2012 [7 favorites]

Do you want to be like them? Are you feeling as of they have something you do not, so you are obsessing out of a desire to be like them? I have found that I have gotten focused on someone because they have something that I feel I do not, but really, really wish I did.
posted by Vaike at 10:40 PM on April 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

The cool thing about attraction and sexuality and sexual preferences and all that jazz is that it honestly can be anything you want it to be. One of my closest friends is physically attracted to men, has sex with men, etc, but she is emotionally attracted to women and would rather actually date girls because they fulfill her from that standpoint.

My advice? Don't worry about it. It's okay to be attracted and interested in whatever you want. I get crushes on men and women all the time and it's usually because I admire something about them -- physical, mental, skill-set-wise, etc. It's normal and okay and it's totally personal. It's not rigid or strict or anything like that -- and I will fight anyone to the death if they make you feel bad about it. (K? K.)

Bottom line: like these girls however you want. If it distracts you, then make a point to set their images aside for times when you can indulge in how gorgeous and awesome they are. :)
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:44 PM on April 29, 2012 [6 favorites]

It's okay to objectify people who are specifically placing themselves in a position to be objectified, like pop stars and girls out clubbing. I mean, when I get all fancy that's because I want people to look at me. Pop stars make money on how they present themselves. It's not okay if you act negatively towards these people because you think of them as less than human. But you're just thinking about them in an admirational or maybe sexual way. I don't think that's skeevy, just kind of natural, to be honest.

Do you have other interests? Maybe you really love fashion and this is how you're figuring that out? Or maybe you have unexamined sexual attractions; that's okay too, and perfectly fine to be working out on your own pace. It's a very normal thing to be attracted to one gender more for looks and sex and another gender more for personality and romance. Being bisexual is not a 50/50 thing. You could also be projecting; do you find yourself attractive? Maybe you see something in these women that you wish you had yourself?

Obsession is a word that people use too often, I think. Your Kpop thing, is it still going strong? It's okay to be a really big fan of something! The only real problem I see in your question is you saying that's all you talk about with friends and new people. You need to concentrate on diversifying yourself, because otherwise it's a surefire way of alienating people and losing old friends if you ONLY ever talk about hot unattainable people and their newest singles. But by all means, spend your fun money on posters and get inspired by their hairstyles and whatever. That's nothing to be ashamed of. Just try to be interested in what other people want to talk to you about, too.

It really is okay to check girls out. It's a very human thing to do. Even if you don't ever want to label yourself as anything other than straight, there are still huge numbers of straight women who can find aesthetic pleasure in other women. It's also really okay if you're figuring out you're some sort of queer later in life, too. Everybody figures themselves out at their own pace. Just be aware that it's a process and that you need to exhibit balance in things.
posted by Mizu at 10:45 PM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think what you're doing is fine. We live in a world of appearances, and at this stage in the game there is a great emphasis on women's appearances, and I think it is normal and natural that you should think a lot about something that is so important to human culture at large. I don't believe that women's beauty is a shallow thing at all. It is a billion dollar industry precisely because it's so important.

It's funny - I was thinking about this the other day. There's this boy band called One Direction and they have this hit song about women's beauty. They sing, "you don't know you're beautiful...that's what makes you beautiful!" And the video is them running around the surf making grand gestures with their arms and they are in t-shirts. And then later in the video this carful of models arrive to flirt with them. I think the video is very clever in that it is sending a mixed message to young women. Women are told from day one that beauty is the most important thing in their reality, but they are also told that to acknowledge, accept, and to wield that power in a blatant way is vain and shallow. So you're kind of caught between a rock and a hard place. The One Direction video is suggesting that being in denial of your own beauty - being unconscious of it is the beautiful thing, but no girl can be that. You'd have to grow up without mirrors. You would literally have to not know what you look like. And even then, you have a world full of people telling you what you look like. It's fine to obsess over this stuff.

Men obsess about sports, which arguably is the "male" equivalent to fashion magazines. Are sports shallow? Hockey is essentially millionaires on skates playing a game with no real world consequence. They are not saving lives. They are not raising children. They are not teachers or doctors or anyone who is actually making the world run. Yet they are paid millions to play a game. Same for supermodels. Playing dress-up. Are men shallow for watching sports? There's this one restaurant I go to and every day, the two cooks talk hockey. That seems to be the entirety of their conversational topics. i don't think they're shallow people. They just enjoy talking about it, and it's a way for them to bond and pass the time. It's common ground. I think it's fine that you can talk about the fashion and celeb world with your friends and strangers.

i wouldn't worry too much about whether your obsessions mean you're gay or straight or bi or whatever. I think it's a human thing to think about human endeavours, whether that's music or fashion or art or carpentry or model train building or serial killers or underwater welding. Good luck!
posted by Sully at 10:48 PM on April 29, 2012 [8 favorites]

This is normal. Women's magazines are full of pictures of women, often scantily clothed attractive women or striking/ weird looking women, because we like to look at each other and we like to compare. Women enjoy examining other women's looks and bodies and cloths and hair and make up and gait and speech and comparing them to their own in minute detail. Most women also enjoy mimicking each other and trying on different "looks" or ways of presenting themselves. And for every look you go to the bother of copying you'll mentally envision yourself in 10 other looks. Are you youngish and feel less than savvy about clothes and make up or how to be stylish? Do you think your friends have it more together than you on the lookin' good end front? When I was going through that phase in my twenties that was my peak time for looking at other women obsessively. For a lot of women it's a teenage thing.

Even women who don't enjoy comparing themselves to other women do it all the time so I personally think it's an innate drive. It's almost something you can't do at a certain stage of your life.
posted by fshgrl at 10:49 PM on April 29, 2012 [5 favorites]

Forgot to add: I change my hair color drastically every few years. Like from dark brunette to blonde or blonde to bright red. Every time I do that I go through a little phase of obsessing on people who look similar to my new "look" so I can learn how to best choose colors to flatter it.
posted by fshgrl at 10:52 PM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

everyone of us is bi, to an extent, not 50/50 but hell i'm a 6 pack away from a kathoey lover, i dont sense a problem unless this is something you cant control, which seems to be the major issue here...i guess i'm saying dont worry about stopping, just break the habits that intrude upon your life, and that may require professional help, and also it is entirely possible to be attracted to the same sex w/o it being 'sexual', James Edward Franco makes me horny, but for a woman not for him...
posted by dawson at 10:54 PM on April 29, 2012

and that's NOT me.

This seems to be the crux of your whole question: that all of this somehow not you.

But ... it is you. Why not just accept that?

After all, you aren't hurting anyone, right? OK, the one potentially harmful thing you mention is that this is distracting you from work. But everyone gets distracted at work sometimes, and that doesn't sound like a huge deal if it isn't using up large amounts of your work time.

You're trying to neatly categorize and marginalize a part of yourself: oh, this is like a "teenage boy." This is "creepy," "shallow," not "normal." Those kinds of labels aren't informative or productive. Spend more time simply living your life however you want to live it, and less time worrying about how to label yourself.
posted by John Cohen at 10:55 PM on April 29, 2012 [8 favorites]

I do this too (maybe not obsessively, but it's basically 50% of the reason I have a stupid tumblr), and I think it's pretty normal. As the above poster said, for me it's about seeing different "looks" and learning what makes them work, essentially so I can copy them. Today I did the creepy thing of clicking a link to a girl's Facebook (a girl I barely knew who went to my church 4+ years ago) and looking through most of her profile pictures, because she was really cute and I liked her young professional-ish style (something I've never cultivated but have been interested in adopting lately). It sounds really weird to just admit it like that, but I think it's just a curiosity about how women pull off their wardrobes/personas, since there's a lot of pressure on women to put forth a really put-together look that defines their personality (I'm sure it's similar for men, but men's everyday fashion seems less adventurous maybe?) and there's more excitement in variety. (For instance, before I wore a lot of makeup I'd always wonder why anyone would do anything other than a classic red lip or tasteful liquid eyeliner, until I started actually wearing makeup every day and became interested in new ways of mixing it up that I would have thought were "tacky" before.) I agree that it's comparable to sports-- personal style is quite interesting on its own terms.

For me it's also really engaging to look at photos of pretty girls who "own" their look-- like with ridiculous reporters calling Jennifer Lawrence too fat or big lately, I like seeing photos of a beautiful, tall, curvy woman doing her thang. I like looking at photos of Nicki Minaj because she's so unapologetically in your face and has so much swag, even if that's not a thing I'd actually emulate in real life. Women's fashion and women in entertainment are typically very ornamental/ornamented, and thinking about how to imprint certain styles and attitudes through your look is a big deal in our culture. Sometimes it leads to style fatigue, which I happen to be going through right now, since I'm kind of tired of spending so much money on nearly disposable clothes in a consumerist culture, blah blah.

Blah blah, basically if you're interested in being pretty/cute/hot it's normal to want to see pictures of other people pulling it off. If you feel like you're obsessing, are you feeling insecure? Are you looking for a partner right now and kind of into the idea of how to make yourself appealing? When I'm depressed sometimes I take this stuff too personally and feel devastated that I'm not more beautiful/stylish (like some celeb whose stylists have spent thousands of dollars on her hair and makeup and personal trainer).
posted by stoneandstar at 11:02 PM on April 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you feel that this is compulsive behavior interfering with your peace of mind, then that is the only problem. The content/object of it in this case seems harmless and irrelevant, even normal. But if you really have a problem getting media-related thoughts of any kind out of your head, would it be possible for you to disconnect from media for a while? Maybe take a vacation? You mention really needing to focus on work, but perhaps stress there is actually a reason your thoughts are a little more intense and distracted.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 11:10 PM on April 29, 2012

Do you have as many boyfriends as you'd like?
posted by rhizome at 11:11 PM on April 29, 2012

You seem to be saying you are disturbed by obsessive and compulsive thoughts, and this is causing problems in your life and possibly your relationships with others.

Have you considered possibly seeing a therapist specializing in OCD issues?
posted by shoyu at 11:15 PM on April 29, 2012

It's weird how confusing this is, speaking as someone who had a vaguely similar 'problem' in her teens. That is, I separated (still separate) into three parts: 1) my physical/mental attraction to guys, who I crush on and don't wonder/worry if it's their looks or personalities I like; 2) my physical attraction/fascination/looking at hot girls; 3) my emotional bonding and totally-platonic-of-course closeness to girls I'm friends with or admire.

For the longest time, I thought my fascination with 'cute girls' in their visual aspect (as an artist, for me this meant drawing them and looking at drawings and photos and art) was shallow and/or artistic but certainly not 'emotional' or 'romantic'. On the other hand, hey whatd'ya know, if a guy fixates on how hot a girl looks, oh man (often), he's so in luuuurve, at first sight no less. If a girl does it, well, it's just kind of weird and shallow. Or something. And people may add, 'well, girls like fashion'. So it's kinda like we're naturally shallow except about sex and love. Right. When convenient, shallow. Inconvenient, not shallow.

Anyway, errrr so what happened was that I was like, 'f-- it, I'm bi', and then I relaxed. My behavior didn't change (and I failed to get a girlfriend or act any gayer), but deciding that I'm bi did relax the angst, which was bothering me. You get to be shallow about hot girls even if you're straight (in fact I'm pretty sure that's normal for most girls-- or fashion magazines woudn't sell), but it's more normal to like, stare and draw their boobies if you're bi (I decided). It's all about what makes you comfortable.

I would say go against your instincts and really dive in and see how far your interest goes. Nekkid hot Korean girls, anyone?
posted by reenka at 11:17 PM on April 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

I consider myself straight in that my crushes have been guys, but lately things like what I described make me a little uncertain.

There's been a Cambrian Explosion of gender/sex/relationship terminology in the last decade or so. If you preferred boys for relationships but also enjoyed sex with girls (and then kicked them out of bed as soon as the fun was over) you'd be "heteromantic and sexually bisexual" or 'straight with bi tendencies' or so on. Happily it's not the end of the world that folk are allowed to start being honest with themselves.

Or you could be heterosexual and biromantic; you want to bone boys and live with a pretty girl. Which is wonderful too, as long as you understand yourself.

And as a girl, I don't want to be more interested in girls because they are wearing skimpy outfits/ look hot-- I would be thinking like a teenage boy and that's NOT me.

Hmmm ... perhaps it might be time to spend some after work time at a low key lesbian bar / coffeeshop LGBTQ mixer / pickup joint etc and see how you respond emotionally when a pretty girl hangs out with you? Or pick up some women-directed porn at a local woman-friendly sex toy shop or website?

Women sometimes mature sexually later than men; you may be going through your horny teenage boy phase. That's great; the only problematic part is that you're unhappy at your workplace.
These are all distracting when I should be concentrating on work.
My question is-- how do I stop? And is this normal at all?

Obsessive thought is no fun. There's various tricks for mindfulness:
"What am I thinking and doing right now? Is it making me happy that this is what I'm thinking and doing right now? What's the next thing I need to do on my todo list?" 'I'm obsessing about Maki Nomiya in a chef's outfit. There's nothing wrong with thinking about girls' outfits, but I'm also full of tension because I've got a memo to write ... What will make me happy right now is writing this memo ... Well, I've got a memo to write, I'll get back to that.'

If your internet browsing is eating into your productive work time, use a browser extension like leechblock to keep it down to 15 min per 3 hours (and do it at home where you can let your hair down). Or maintain a logbook with entries every 15 minutes to see where your time is going.

The next time you find yourself obsessing at work, take reenka's approach: "I'm probably bi - I'll worry about this after work."
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:38 PM on April 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Truth? I'm, like, 95% straight (female), and I love checking out girls. Beautiful or alluring women are exactly that; beautiful. Alluring. They draw your eye.

I get a little flustered and bashful around beautiful women in person. I'm pretty sure because it's really rare and I don't entirely know how to deal with it- I want to stare, to bask in their beauty, but I don't want to be rude or creepy. I used to mistake that for sexual attraction, but after experimenting with women, I discovered that it's usually nonsexual. We just don't have a very good precedent in our society for nonsexual appreciation of human beauty; much as we don't have much precedent for nonsexual intimacy or touch.

So we're prone to assuming that everything is sexual, and if that attraction (which we assume to be sexual) doesn't mesh with who we are, it becomes very freaky and confusing.

You probably don't get obsessed about hot men because you're allowed to look at them and be absorbed by their appearance. It fits with your idea of who you are, regardless whether you're sexually attracted to them. So, when you see a hot guy, you are probably entranced by it briefly, but get over it pretty fast.

I think that if you could spend time with a beautiful woman and just look at her, in person, until you got your fill- rather than doing it surreptitiously, in little bits, or vicariously through pictures and fantasies- this would start to seem more comfortable and natural for you and you would be able to cope with it much easier. Like hanging out with breastfeeding mothers until their boobs don't freak you out.

I guess what I'm saying is that it's normal to love female beauty. It will probably stop worrying you eventually. Especially once you're more confident of where you fall on the sexual orientation spectrum
posted by windykites at 12:01 AM on April 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

Honestly, this doesn't sound like a sexual orientation issue, because you don't seem concerned about love, sex, and relationships. It sounds like an issue with obsessive thought patterns, for which you should seek therapy. I am basing this in part on your askme history.
posted by yarly at 3:04 AM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

To me also this sounds like obsessive thought and some kind of therapy might be needed - not because you're looking at pictures of girls, but because you're looking at pictures of girls to the point where it's messing with you. And having difficulty having conversations about anything else.

The whole "am I bi, straight, queer or something else?" question is something that you could usefully unpack as you address the obsessive thoughts. You can be someone who is both prone to obsessive thoughts AND struggling with stuff about sexuality, beauty, bodies, etc. So for example, maybe some stuff about your sexuality is coming into your consciousness and manifesting itself through the obsessive thoughts that you struggle with elsewhere.

(I will also add that as much as women are taught to push aside questions of physical attraction and that has messed with me, too, sexually, there's also this giNORmous capitalist machine - of which tumblr is a particularly effective cog- retraining our eyes and minds. I've actually kind of quit tumblr lately because it was making me shallow and I got tired of tumblrs that were all "ooh, we should totes show images of queer and trans folks, BUT ONLY THE PRETTY ONES". The answer to "I don't know what I want sexually" is not, for me, to go all "I will seek out parts of the culture where I can learn to effectively objectify people who are being paid to be objectified".)
posted by Frowner at 4:57 AM on April 30, 2012

I agree with the commenters who say that this sounds like an obsessive thought issue. The content of your thoughts is not a big deal, it's the fact that you find them distracting and distressing, and want them to stop but can't seem to. And you know what? Even if it is a challenge for you to deal with obsessive thoughts, that's not freaky or creepy or crazy either. It's more common than you think. People don't often talk about it: not only are they ashamed of whatever it is they're thinking about, but they're ashamed of their apparent inability to control it. This is unfortunate, because being able to think "hey, this is okay" is one of the key steps to making it better.

You may be sexually attracted to women, but even if you're not, women checking out other women isn't that unusual. We're bombarded with hot women ALL THE TIME, and constantly told that attractiveness is important and we should flatten our abs and put shimmer dust on our collarbones or whatever. I would bet that the average woman sees significantly more sexily-styled images of women in a given day than the average man does. It's hard not to internalize that message to some degree. Some of us turn it on ourselves and fixate on the ways we do and don't measure up, some of us fixate on the products we're being sold, some of us fixate on other attractive women out of jealousy, and some of us fixate on other attractive women simply because they're pleasant to look at.

It's normal. You are fine. For the most part, it bothers you because you consider it "wrong." Letting go of that misconception will be the first step toward making these thoughts less troublesome.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:59 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

What you're thinking isn't as much of an issue as the fact that you feel it is obsessive. But I have a feeling that analyzing whether or not it's "normal" is turning the whole thing into a "don't think of an elephant" kind of situation.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:21 AM on April 30, 2012

For me, similar feelings in my late teens/early 20s were the first part of my coming out process. As I got more comforable in the knowledge that I'm gay, I began to be attracted to women for more reasons. I imagine that it works similarly for teenage boys, actually. Once I started thinking seriously about having relationships in the future with women, as a teenage boy eventually does, my attractions to women began to include attractions to different, less outwardly sexy types of appearance, and I began to have more crushes that were mental/emotional as well as physical.

You may not be a lesbian, like I am, but it might be worth considering. Something that helped me explore those feelings when I was in the pervy teenage boy phase was reading personal essays by lesbians and bisexual women (I had a boyfriend at the time, so the bisexual womens' experiences were particularly helpful). I was involved in a university women's centre, and I got my reading mostly from their library--these days, you can probably find lots of blogs, too. Coming out stories or stories about figuring out your sexual orientation can be really helpful.

(And by the way, of course lesbians and bisexual women also have "normal" platonic friendships with women of all orientations! It's true that sometimes stuff gets complicated, but I have lots of female friends I've never thought about in a sexual way. Ever. Ew.)
posted by snorkmaiden at 9:07 AM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

Even women who don't enjoy comparing themselves to other women do it all the time so I personally think it's an innate drive.

I really doubt it's "an innate drive" considering it's a very culturally bound phenomenon by all reports--it's never come up, for instance, in any of the many very detailed ethnographies of hunter-gatherer societies that I have read.

That said, it's certainly a very powerful cultural phenomenon within the industrialized world, can't argue with you there.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:12 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have no idea where your actual sexual attractions lie, but I know that for me, when I first started admitting to myself that I was into other women in a sexual way, I was often disturbed by how my thoughts seemed like those of a dirty old man or an oversexed teenaged boy. My friend and I would often bemoan the fact that we felt like creeps/pervs/etc. for the way we thought about women. Somehow over time this guilt/shame has lessened, even though my pervy thoughts are going strong!
posted by whalebreath at 7:07 PM on April 30, 2012

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