You’re Hotter Than You Think

Jennifer Grey "Before"

You’re probably hotter than you think you are. Especially if you fall into one of the following categories, according to Psychology Today:

You compare yourself to models

Fashion magazines are all about unachievable ideals (and pushing products to “help” you meet them). Those who buy these glossies have worse body images than those who don’t.

But as UC-Davis psychology professor, Richard Robins, points out:

When women evaluate their physical attractiveness, they compare themselves with an idealized standard of beauty, such as a fashion model. In contrast, when both men and women evaluate their intelligence, they do not compare themselves to Einstein, but rather to a more mundane standard.

Women with better body image don’t feel inferior to a starved and airbrushed standard.

You must be perfect all the time

Along these lines, some feel they must be perfect all the time. These folks are intensely concerned with how they appear to others. As Carlin Flora, over at Psychology Today put it, “We all know someone like this—a friend who never runs out of the house to grab coffee without fixing herself up first.”

While most people find these women very attractive, they don’t. Their point of comparison is the very best-looking people. And their inability to live up to perfection brings them down.

You think everyone’s judging your flaws

Some people think their flaws are always in the spotlight.

Psychologists, Ann Demarais and Valerie White had a client who thought everyone was focused on his crooked teeth. They helped him see that other people were actually more worried about their own supposed faults than his, and suggested he try smiling broadly when he met new people. He took their advice and was surprised that no one drew back in horror. In fact, they were actually friendly! It was very freeing.

Your parents put you down

If your parents said you were ugly, that can be difficult to overcome. Exhibit A is Michael Jackson who spent years going to plastic surgeons as a result of his father pointing out his supposed flaws. Fortunately, this is pretty uncommon. A more likely scenario occurs when parents fail to light up when they see us and appreciate our individual wonderfulness.

It doesn’t mean you’re unattractive. It means you have poor parents.

Your parents praised your looks

Surprisingly, kids who are praised only for their looks can become very critical of themselves, feeling attractive only if they meet very high expectations. If they aren’t Angelina Jolie, they’re “ugly.”

You got chuckles and stares as a kid

Some get teased as kids for being too tall, too short, too heavy, for having a big nose… And the childhood label can last a lifetime.

When they grow up, others may see the same feature as making them interesting, giving them character.

I don’t know if Jennifer Grey, of Dirty Dancing fame, experienced anything like this, but many feel that when she “fixed” her nose she became more conventionally beautiful, but lost some spark, some allure.

Just remember

Women are especially concerned with looks because their social status so often hangs on their appearance. And we seem to think there’s one universal standard. Yet beauty varies by culture. Some prefer taller, others shorter, some thinner some thicker, some smaller-busted, others large.

And we tend to be our own harshest critics.

If you are especially body-focused, or if you are uncomfortable in public due to worries about your looks, you are surely hotter than you think.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on January 18, 2012, in body image, psychology, women and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.

  1. This somewhat reminds me of how much childhood has an influence on who we are as people today. Simple little things that we swear we do not think about and that we have changed but still secretly feel insecure about. What we fail to remember that we are not the only one’s feeling this way, other people also have things that they feel insecure about. And sure, there are people who do not lack self-confidence but that does not mean that they are automatically focusing on what we feel is bad or flawed about ourselves. We have to remember to give people the benefit of the doubt and hope that they do the same for us.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this article. I think it is really important to realize that society makes women and men think so critically about themselves all the time. From personal experience, I am the first one to admit that I have body image issues. Oftentimes I feel like everyone is looking at the things I least like about myself and that they will judge me for not taking care of myself for the way I look. The first part of the article is an important part of our bodies and women in general. Models have an unrealistic body shape that is virtually unachievable without working out for inordinate amounts of time and limiting what you eat to the most extreme. As we have learned society and businesses love making money off of people’s insecurities. This is ingrained into our brains from a very young age with advertisements. The dieting industry is huge and has touched everyone in some way. After my first year at college, my mom has been ragging on me to lose the weight I gained and eat healthier. This is yet another aspect of the article that applies to my own life.

  3. As most humans think, a lot think that they are not hot. That is just the way most people think but you are in fact a lot better looking than you might think. Which definitely comes as a shock because most people do not think like that. In the article a psychologist mentions this process of not thinking this is actually a lot freeing to people. Growing up, most parents praised them with saying they are beautiful and amazing and this give so much confidence to people. This goes back to the saying “You’re hotter than you think” which really is crazy to think about. Since women a lot of the time are more concerned with their looks this is more of a way to boost women’s confidence because they realize they are indeed better looking than they think and see. Those people who are critical on their looks might have very high expectations which may have people not believe in this saying because it is false and they know what they look like. I personally agree with the starting because i know psychologist have made this quote make sense and people really are more good looking then one may think.

  4. I found this article to be really fascinating and a good reminder that often our perceptions of ourselves are much more critical than the outside worlds’. Susan Brownmiller, a feminist journalist, said, “Exalted by poets, painters, and sculptors, the female body, often reduced to its isolated parts, has been mankind’s most popular subject for adoration and myth, and also for judgment, ridicule, esthetic alteration and violent abuse.” I found this quote to be apropos to this article and I like how it highlights the struggle of the female body as it is pulled in two opposite directions. I know I struggle with a balance of thinking that the female body is amazing and powerful and then thinking about how mine should be changed to be better. But better to who? Certainly to outside expectations that I have internalized from social media and peers rather than what I personally think.
    I found the section talking about parents praising looks most interesting. I notice that I have certain friends that some of their first comments about a person are that they are beautiful or cute rather than something about their personality and often this is because that is what their parents would say. I work really hard to rarely praise a child by their looks and instead focus on their intelligence, curiosity, or hard work.

  5. The article describes that women often tend to value themselves less beautiful than they are and that it’s several different reasons for why we do that. Some experiences being bullied when they were smaller for their outlook, some didn’t get the attention they needed from their parents, while others just are perfectionist that never gets satisfied.

    One of the things that helps me feeling beautiful and cute is to trust my personality and my confidence. It’s important for me to remind myself about the qualifies that I have and use them. That I uses my smile and show love, that I show that I’m smart and talented. When you show people that you have personality, people tend to focus more on my personality than your outlooks.

  6. I can personally relate to this particular post. I have been thinking about getting rhinoplasty done… It had been something that has, and still, bothers me ’til this day. I was contemplating the price and the life change that would come along with it, and in the end I decided that I didn’t need it. Everyone whom I had consulted it with would respond with something like, “are you crazy!?”, “why would you do that!? It (my nose) looks fine!”. That’s when I realized that this whole time I had been making a big deal about something that looked normal on my face. I can agree that everyone sees something they don’t like on themselves, whether that be their nose, butt, or boobs. But you know something? Why should we be told how to look? Why must there be that certain “beauty standard” that we all have to fit into? Nobody is the same, we all have differences that separate us from one another so why not embrace them? I’m a skinny 5’6, big nosed girl. AND WHAT!? I love myself and I do not need to fit society’s perception of “beauty”. And I might even be exaggerating with my nose… Maybe I’m judging myself again… haha who knows! All that’s for sure is that I love myself, and ever since I’ve had guys ask me out more than ever before. Self-confidence is all it takes!

  7. Correct!
    Its all thinking that matters.

  8. emilysarahfriday

    Oh this is so good! I didn’t even realise I did all of this stuff til I read it here.. I think the Einstein and intelligence quote is a great point as well, made me see things differently. I’m constantly comparing myself to ‘perfect’ standards and beat myself up if I don’t reach them. I’m trying to do a ‘self-love’ project at the moment on my blog, and I’ve been trying to overcome all of these flaws which I assume people see and judge me for everyday, but its nice to know I’m probably better looking than I think!

  9. Seeing the picture of Jennifer Grey “before” reminded me of how beautiful I thought she was in “Dirty Dancing.” But a lot of people in show business probably saw the “Jewess nose” and encouraged this young actress to “shave off the bump.” I can understand wanting to get some sort of rhinoplasty if you can’t breathe properly, but to be honest, today I couldn’t pick Jennifer Grey out of a line-up of other blond late-30s actresses. The original Jennifer? Oh! There she is! Look at that beautiful bump!

  10. This topic is so true, us women tend to be more cautious on what we do and how we look because of the media and what people expect of women. A lot of women are trying to imitate models, actresses, singers, etc instead of really knowing who they are and how beautiful they are. The criticism that women faces we tend to want to correct them all the time and if someone makes fun of us we fix it instead of looking at the person who did made fun of us and just ignore the negativity. Me personally I can’t leave my house without my makeup and my hair done because I would be worried about being stared at or not feeling “pretty” but after reading this blog, I view myself differently

    “If you are especially body-focused, or if you are uncomfortable in public due to worries about your looks, you are surely hotter than you think.”
    -That part really inspired me 🙂

  11. As a teenager, I am constantly thinking about how others perceive my outer appearance or my actions, sometimes to the point of paranoia. Therefore, I felt that most of this post pertained to my life. I am most definitely guilty of comparing myself to women in magazines or celebrities on TV and in movies. I have grown up with such images and have seen the way people react to the beauty of these women in the media, that I can’t help but feel that that is how I should look too, and that something is wrong with me if I appear otherwise. I luckily never got chuckles or laughs for my appearance as a child, but I have had many a family member comment on my appearance, and it got to a point where I became paranoid about how I looked all the time. I think the comments that my family had a greater impact on me than any comments I ever received from friends, because I have instilled the idea in my mind that my family consists of the people who will be most honest with me, therefore whatever they say to me is the truth and I should listen to what they say. Though with friends, I act more considerately and I assume them to do the same. Overall, it is human nature for us to be affected by the comments of those around us and the stereotypes of our surrounding environment, therefore it makes it difficult to keep in mind what our true appearance is. Thanks to the information in this post I will now try harder to not think so much about the opinions of others around me, but to remember that it can’t always be as bad as it is mad out to be.

  12. This article most defiantly brought up some people I knew/met that act exactly as those women who “can’t go out without getting ready.” My suitemate from the past would never go out without getting ready. If we were all going to get something to eat in the cafeteria, she would have to change and put on makeup when the rest of us were in sweats and looked like complete slobs. She would even ask people to go get her food when she didn’t want to leave her room just because she didn’t even want to leave the room! We always tried to convince her and get her self-esteem up by complimenting how beautiful our friend was. It just wouldn’t stick to her that she is someone who obviously is pretty.

  13. Jocelyn Marin Gutierrez

    I enjoyed reading this blog, there is a lot of truth in it. In todays society people are always worried about their appearance and what people are saying about them. Its also a shame how much women try to compare them self to models and people in the media. while comparing them self to models and other, their self esteem goes down. But what they don’t realize is that they look the way the do because of their self. They need to take care of them self, some women just let their self go because they lose faith in their self. some may have noting wrong with them self but because they don’t look exactly like a model they feel the need to change their selfs. Accepting your self and your image is a big thing for women. I say this because i see it everyday and have experienced it as a young women. In high school I was consider A popular kid so I knew that my appearance was important. I had to have on the newest clothes and shoes and my hair had to be done every day, because i did care what people thought about me. I also knew i was in shape because I played basketball so i had noting to worry about. But know in college it’s different so I do tend to worry about my appearance because I really don’t work out no more and i see change in my body and how I carry myself and I feel different. so I sometimes feel like people have negative things to say because I don’t receive the same attention I did in high school.

  14. Maria Papayianni

    I have a hard time relating to these posts. It seems like a lot of the posts have to do with how advertising impacts women. I grew up without television, and I spent most of my life in small villages in Europe, where the last thing I ever had to think about was outward appearance. I moved to the United States when I was 15, where for the first time I saw what devastating affect advertising can have on the standards people place on themselves. I noticed that women do tend to compare themselves a lot more here, and feel pressured to look a certain impossible way. I would hope that as we get older we eventually realize that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. Ultimately it’s what within that makes us truly beautiful, but the advertisement industry simply doesn’t gain much money trying to portray that.

  15. I actually enjoyed this article; I think it is sad that girls are so critical over their looks when, in reality the things they do to be “pretty” actually make them less attractive. One thing that is hard to grasp is that not everyone is going to appear “attractive” to everyone else. Attraction is subjective. It’s easy to compare ourselves to Kim Kardashian or Amber rose, but in reality all they are known for is being pretty. Looks fade. And once they do, nobody will care anymore because physical beauty only goes so far. Once we learn to love ourselves, flaws and all, we gain confidence which makes us more beautiful as a whole, and I think confidence is the most attractive thing a woman can possess. ❤

  16. As a kid I got a few chuckles and stares. I remember the sixth grade was when I saw girls my age start to wear make-up. My older sister did not help me when I wanted to try applying make-up. So learning how to apply make-up was a huge learning experience for me. I put way to much dark purple eyeshadow on my eyes the first time, but went to school thinking that the job I did was alright. People kept staring at me and some boys even laughed. After that experience I didn’t mess with make-up until I was in high school and a few friends helped me out.

  17. As usual, you’ve posted about a topic (well, let’s be honest- many topics) that is very relevant to my life, and something I definitely needed to hear at this moment in time. I will be doing some body image writing in the near future hopefully- thank you for the inspiration 🙂

  18. I found this article very interesting! I can really relate to the section about how parents put us down. Ever since I “started to grow up into a woman” my mom would say to me here and there that I was fat or ugly when I did something out of our culture. Or my dad wouldn’t approve of the choices I did to my body. In the Vietnamese culture it is very common for girls/women to be skinny, have long black hair, and just be very natural. But I went against my culture and I wanted to express myself and do what made me happy just because I liked it. I never let the negative comments get to me because i choose to be myself not how they wanted me to be. I noticed that many girls now a day don’t appreciate their true beauty and choose to cover it up. I understand it makes them feel better but us girls pr guys need to be comfortable in your own skin when we are out and about in the world exploring and meeting new people. Accept yourself and don’t let others make you feel uncomfortable!

  19. I found this blog post insightful. Especially when it was mentioned that women compare their physical appearance to that of a model, but no one compares their intelligence to that of Einstein’s. This is a very true observation. Why is it that we are constantly comparing ourselves to such uncommon (natural) physical traits? I also found it interesting that when children are solely praised when their parents feel that they look attractive, they begin to set unrealistically high expectations for themselves. It is important that our society begins to recognize the natural uniqueness of every individual. Who wants a world where everyone is a clone of each other? That would be such a mundane and truly ugly place.

  20. Kimberly Morrison

    This article is so true! I always find myself comparing my body with others that I work with or see on television. I don’t have a problem with going outside the house with no make up on. My sister on the other hand cannot leave the house with some make up on. I believe that if someone doesn’t like you for who you are then they shouldn’t be a part of your life. If you can’t be yourself and you have to cover your face with make up or are self conscious about your body then do something about it. You have to be happy with yourself or there will always be a problem. It doesn’t help that every television show that has to do with women they are close to perfect with their face and body.

  21. This article is really interesting, and I haven’t notice anything about this aspects of beauty, but I totally agree with it. Most people always notice their flaws and their “bad” part of the appearance. When I was about sixteen years old, I had many pimples on my face, so I always wore a hat to cover it, and didn’t talk much to others, so they wouldn’t notice my “ugly” face, but that made me had really less friends that time. I really agree with that how the author said that some people think others are judging their flaws, but they are not. If I was talking to others at that time, I think I would have a much happier time. I don’t think changing your body is a good way to become beautiful. I think the word beauty means to be yourself, and ignore other people’s judgment. People’s inside feeling has a huge effect of your appearance because a smile face will always be more beautiful than a sad one, so be confident and be happy are the key points of beauty.

  22. People all care about their looks, especially women because the society and culture give them a certain “social status”, and make them depend on their appearance more than men. We always hope ourselves to be better, and many people build confidence through their appearance and other’s attention and comments. People like to compare themselves with their idols who they admire because they believe that the idols are perfect. However, we have already made a wrong standard when we are comparing ourselves to a perfect image because nobody can be perfect. We should change our own beliefs and don’t care other’s attention too much and should not feel “uncomfortable in public” because everyone is better than he or she thinks. Women can put themselves down easily because they always don’t feel satisfy with their looks. They should not care the public too much and always try to find their advantages and build confidence through the appearance.

  23. This is a great article and perfectly relatable to many, if not all girls today. Whether our insecurities have been rooted in us from the time we were children or developed later in life during our high school years, I believe we all have some form of insecurity. It is unfortunate though, because instead of encouraging natural beauty and self acceptance, the media reinforces these insecurities. Images are instilled in our heads through magazines, advertisement, TV shows, web, celebrities, models, etc. about what beauty should look like. Looking at these images, girls constantly pick themselves as they compare themselves to the ‘beautiful women’ that the media idolizes. These images then become a goal and girls will build their life style around achieving them or they will constantly critique themselves because they believe that they will never be pretty enough. Life shouldn’t be about trying to be as beautiful as the women that are presented in the media. It should be about accepting ourselves for who we are and understanding that no one is perfect. I’m sure that celebrities, models, and other women that are being idolized in the media have their own insecurities as well. It is very unfortunate that accepting our flaws and seeing them as something that makes us beautiful. So, we must always remember that we truly are our own worst critics and chances are, our flaws are invisible to those around us.

  24. This article is very interesting and eye opening and ITS SO TRUE! I feel like pop culture has a lot to do with how women see themselves and it influences them to relate to the latest trends. Media has a lot to do with brainwashing women to look like an “ideal woman” and it’s our job to not let that get in our way and become our own inner beauty. Most women nowadays find beauty as their top priority and I think looking beautiful makes them feel more secure about themselves, so therefore they put there up most effort into doing so. But I feel like women shouldn’t have to be jealous of how other women look because every woman has potential to be beautiful even without all the gilts and glamour.

  25. I feel that women have a lot on their plate becuase of the expectations that they face when it comes to advertisments, magazines and how famous women present themselves today. For example women have to face the insecurities that “model women” portray through magazines and how they look at other women, and ask themselves why? For intance women are always targeting about appearences and how they present themseleves. I don’t think they should ever feel that way at all because for me I happen to read most women magazines such as fashion. The way that models are looked at through such advertisments are pretty much false upon they way they look. Most women in magazines don’t ever look like that in realy life and have there touch ups and alterations to make the image look “perfect”. You have to look at it this way, most models are just figures to advertise their features and the product they wear, under all that makeup is just another individual model who may also have these types of insecurities that you face too. The fashion industry is a very competitive place for a model becuase they have that insecurity of not having a certain look or just not looking the part. I feel that women shouldn’t worry about they way public might look at them, like I said women have a lot on there plate such as pregnancies, that time of the month or having that mentality and discourgement of not being good enough. It shouldn’t matter how you look or what you think would be better for you becuase just like Bruno Mars says it “cause your amazing just the way you are” and its true!

  26. I remember a time when I would constantly compare myself to others and/or people in magazines. Nowadays I do not really care about that. I care about treating others with respect and getting that respect back. I agree with Ana. We are beautiful. We do not have to compare ourselves to others. I think it’s great that no one looks the same. The sooner every woman realizes they are beautiful and one of a kind the better. It’s best to stick out rather than look the same and conform to society. I believe whenever someone is feeling down they should listen to some music that empowers them to feel better about themselves. We all have things about us that we do not like. Our imperfections make us who we are. They make us beautiful whether we think of ourselves that way or not. If you have “friends” who constantly put you down because of how you look, act, talk, etc than you seriously need to cut them out of your life because they never were your friend in the first place. If someone puts you down to make themselves better than they obviously do not deserve your friendship and time.

  27. wow this one really got me! I can see my self in this ALOT, I am constintley comparing myself to models in magizines and women on advertisements wondering why there so perfect. It makes sense for us women to feel bad about our apperence when we constintley feel put down with all these women in magazines and such because they look nothing like the women we see on a daily basis! We see women of different shapes and sizes, we don’t see a bunch of slender women and flawless faces yet we THINK we are supposed to look like “Kim kardashian”. It’s quite amazing how media can brain wash us into such a thing! Thanks to them I have to constintley compare myself and criticize my self every 2 seconds. We are all beautiful in our own ways we just forget it because we are too busy criticizing and putting ourselfs down instead of seeing the beauty we have. It is a sad truth that I know a lot of us women can relate to.

  28. I found this post to be particularly interesting the other day, especially because I can relate to the content. After I read this, I noticed throughout the day that I do consistently relate myself, my attitude, and my body image to models and other women I see on websites such as tumblr, pinterest, and facebook. As soon as I realized this I felt disgusted with myself because women shouldn’t have to feel threatened or jealous of other women because society has told them that that is how they should appear. And women should especially not feel jealous of half-starved and enormously tall models that are few and far between. Women have curves and shape, they are not generally stick figures. It’s true, there is always the 1%, but most women do not look like the women in the magazines, or the edited pictures across the internet. This post has helped put a lot of things in perspective for me. It’s going to be a long and bumpy road before I truly accept the way that my body is shaped (especially because “beautiful women” are all over the place), but it’s a process that I’m ready to go through in order to be truly happy. And so far, this attitude has already had a positive effect on me.

  1. Pingback: Ugly Is A Construct Too « Female Gazing

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