You’re Hotter Than You Think


Jennifer Grey, “Before.” Radiantly and uniquely beautiful.

You’re probably hotter than you think.

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 think they are. Their point of comparison is the very best-looking people. And their inability to live up to perfection brings them down.

Your parents praised your looks

Interestingly, kids who are praised only for their looks can become very self-critical, feeling attractive only if they meet very high standards of beauty. If they aren’t Angelina Jolie, they’re “ugly.”

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 not  common.

Being judgedA more likely scenario occurs when parents fail to light up when they see us, or appreciate our individual wonderfulness.

It doesn’t mean we’re ugly. It means we have poor parents.

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.

You got chuckles and stares as a kid 

Jennifer Grey, "after." Pretty, but in a more ordinary way.

Jennifer Grey, “after.” Pretty, but in a more ordinary way.

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

When they grow up, others may see the same feature as making them interesting and 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 and from person to person. Some prefer taller, others shorter, some thinner some thicker, some smaller, others larger…

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.

This is a rerun. I’m on vacation.

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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 February 16, 2015, in body image, psychology, women and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 47 Comments.

  1. Gabriela Valdez Pacheco

    Over the years, women have constantly been influenced by a variety of opinions in society and the media as to what the “ideal” female should look like or behave. I along with many others, am able to identify with some of the categories mentioned above. When I evaluate my physical traits, I compare myself to a model, but not the usual runway model. I compare myself to those women who appear in music videos or print modeling. Most of the time, I am not at all satisfied with what I see in the mirror. I am on the thin side and for as long as I can remember, have always desired to be at a higher weight. As a child, I was constantly teased about being skinny by family members. It can be all harmless fun to some, but to others like myself, the taunting basically left me scarred for the remainder of my childhood and even now I continue to long for my perfect dream body.
    Aside from this, I have also suffered with skin problems and also felt and still feel that people only see my flaws when we interact. I am still learning how to love myself before I try to satisfy anyone else. I am learning that no one person can really look at someone else’s physicality and expect to gain the same results if they just workout. We can only strive to be the best version of ourselves.

  2. I agree that most women have an unrealistic idea of how they should look based on what is in the media. I have also learned as I’ve gotten older, that most people ARE more worried about their flaws then yours, so instead of hiding them we should embrace them. Another thing I’ve noticed is that most of the things I am insecure about are things that I get complimented the most on. Everyone has their own Ideals of beauty. I can be my own worst enemy and find myself to be very hard on myself about things that are very small and insignificant and I am still learning to not pay too much attention to what I think is a flaw on my body. Women have it hard due to the media and things we see on TV, we are constantly trying to escape from this “Perfect” look that everyone wants to attain.

  3. Hiroka Nakamura

    I think everybody has something they don’t like about their appearance. If I list all the things I don’t like about myself, it wouldn’t end, but I do like myself because this is who I am. One of my friends didn’t like how she looked, so she started to try to throw up every time after she eats something, and she got an anorexia at the end. She was not big at all but obviously though she was. Nowadays, everything on magazines are about how to lose weight or what we should eat and they are even on teen’s magazines. I think this is not right. Of course being healthy is very important, but sometimes I feel like more and more people are getting very sensitive about how they look or their sizes from all the social media. Even though I still think I want to be skinnier and look better, I do love how I look because I know that every one is different and that’s the best part! and also I know that there’s someone who loves who and how I am;)

  4. Haomeijie Liang

    Exactly! We look much hotter than we think. People especially women like to compare themselves with other people, like actresses, models, celebrities. Women care about their appearance more, the less confident they are. They may feel “my legs don’t look straight”, “my eyes are to small”, “I’m fast”… … Some of my friends feel other people are perfect except themselves. One day, they told me they like my eyes, they say my eyes are cute, like Mulan. Come on, that’s my most hateful part! I was feeling shameful about my eyes. So remember no one is perfect, and you are the hottest as long as you have confidence.

  5. Of course you are hotter and more attractive than you think. If everyone looks at themselves in the mirror, they all love their images because they are all truly beautiful. The beauty in this case is not what is considered as beautiful by the society. There is no right or wrong; no ugly or beautiful; or no left or right, etc. in this world. Those are made up by people. In a society, if 95% of people said something is right, so it will be considered as a right thing to do. For example, in English, people tend not to say “Fuck you” in formal events but how about the events take place in somewhere that don’t speak English and have no idea what English is. So, sure, you can say “Fuck you” as much as you want till your mouth is tired. Keeping the same idea, in another planet (may be), there is a completely different perspective of viewing which is beautiful so that a human with 1 arm, 1 leg, 1 eye, 2 mouths, 3 eyes, 4 noses, etc. are the most beautiful human or even promoted to be a king/queen for his/her unique beauty. In a nutshell, do whatever you want to make yourself feel happy with your look. Let me tell you this, the secret recipe to make the “happiness” pill is ignore what people think.

  6. I loved this post, its very true that we as women try to compare ourselves to models and actresses. But what most women don’t think about is that these people are airbrushed and photo shopped, no one actually looks like this in person. I can say i have compared my smile to models, but again just because i don’t have straight teeth, so i really understood when you pointed out the doctor not wanting to smile. I also know that most guys don’t like that model skinny figure, at least for the friends i have, they like the more coca-cola body figure that embraces a girl being “thick”. I believe that is also because our society is finally embracing the essence that you don’t need to be skinny to be beautiful. I just had a lecture about this concept in my sociology class, and its great to know that people are talking about it more openly now, and more girls are way more open minded to changing this perception of models and their influence on young girls.

  7. As a mother, it always amazes me how powerful and influential we are over our kids beliefs, and I must confess that such responsibility is somewhat scary. We parents must always be aware of what kind of impressions and seeds we’re leaving on them through our spoken and unspoken languages, because they can be far different from our original intentions. Due to our own weaknesses, we often neglect to show them their real values and beauty at the risk of jeopardizing their self-image. At the same time, as a woman, it is hard to feel always confident and beautiful, even receiving occasional compliments, because we feel the weight of society’s demand to conform to unrealistic beauty standards. I think I speak for many of us when I say that sometimes I look at the mirror and wonder how my husband can feel attracted to me (even if he says I’m beautiful), and this questioning probably has a lot to do with those unachievable beauty standards that we just take as normal.

  8. I like this article. And I agree with the conclusion that women concern about their looks because the social status always relates to appearance. There are a lot real life stories about that. If two women are both try there best to get a job in a interview (let’s say these two women are both able to do the job), the one who is selected usually is the prettier one. And I also agree that different culture has different standard of beauty. In China, women love to have white/ light skin better than darker skin. But in America, women like to have brown color skin. And in China, women buy skincare porducts usually want to have the one that can make their skin whiter. Once my friend who is in China asked me to help her buying a facial cream that can lighter skin. But when I asked the salesperson, she told me they don’t have this facial cream, and this type cream only sales in Asian countries such as China, Japan and Korea. And in China, the beauty standard is thin. A lof of women buy diet pills to help them lose weight. And many of these women are not really fat. In America, I usually buy clothes with size S, sometime XS or M. But in China, my clothes sizes are M to L, and sometime XL. Moreover, my mom who is in China now always remind me to eat less otherwise I will be fat and if I am fat I will become ugly and can’t find a good man to marry. However, my host family parents who are local American people told me that I am perfect and they said that my mom was a liitle bit exaggerate.
    Thanks to this article, I am feeling better now. And maybe I am hotter than I think.

  9. I found this post to be both interesting and relevant to my life. Personally, I believe that most women struggle with body image issues, although there are varying degrees of how much they struggle depending on the woman. Some are more concerned or preoccupied with their body image than others. Furthermore, I also believe that the media is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, cause for why so many women have body image issues. Due to how ubiquitous media culture is, many women find themselves almost “forced” to be unhappy with their own body. It is hard not to compare yourself to a “beauty standard” that you see everywhere, such as magazines, TV, music, etc. I agree with the points in this post. A lot of other factors also affect a woman’s self esteem, such as the influence of others. I also agree that many women associate physical appearance with social status, so that is why they spend a lot of time worrying about the way they look. It is understandable that an attractive physical appearance would be considered important, if you believe that society is treating you and judging you based on how you look. I especially agree that “we tend to be our own harshest critics”…because we tend to set the highest standards and expectations for ourselves, which most of time, are impossible to achieve.

  10. I grew up comparing myself to fashion models/celebrities, and I have a mother who isn’t afraid to be blunt about my weight. As a plus sized woman, I have always struggled with body image because of the fact that being overweight is considered to be something to be ashamed about. It’s worse now that I’ve had a kid and my body isn’t quite the same. The media is full of images of celebrity women who have recently given birth but look like they were never pregnant in the first place, and it’s really hard to continually be bombarded with that! I’ve chosen to ignore those photos and not read those magazines, and that has helped a lot. I remind myself that if I had that kind of money, I’d be able to look that good too! I’m also learning that the people who matter don’t really care anyways. My fiance still calls me beautiful, and everyone else who loves and cares about me isn’t judging me on my weight anyways. Now that I have a daughter of my own, I really want to make sure that I don’t pass on my body image issues to her. She’s still very young, but when she gets old enough to understand, I don’t ever want her to hear me speaking negatively about my body, because that’s a terrible example for her. I want her to see that I am working on loving and taking care of my body, and that women’s bodies can do amazing things (like grow and give birth to a child.) Furthermore, I want her to see that she is so much more than what she looks like. If she is smart, or funny, or talented, or kind, I want her to value those traits in herself more than her appearance.

  11. Emily Quintanilla

    I loved this post! It is so true in how individuals based themselves on the society and icons that we are and are surrounded by. Women compare themselves to skinny models and me. Compare themselves to body builders or good looking Calvin models. We loose thought of how those people get to look like how they look, which is probably starving themselves or strict minimal eating dieting. Individuals have a complexion and I 100% agree that the way we look at ourselves is either by past experiences that have engraved in our mindset or the types of advertisement and music, movie icons that we wish to be like. I connected it with myself, I believe that in the end you have to find happiness and be ok and confident with your own self. As a female I feel like we seek attention and we want to be called and noticed as fantastically beautiful, we don’t realize that some people will not even pay attention to this and more or someone’s personality rather then your outside. May I also note that it can have a lot to do with age, the younger you are the “hotter you want to be” the older you get “the younger you want to look”…. Guess what?… Embrace yourself and enjoy and be happy with who YOU are.

  12. beauty is one of the aspects that lays deep in our very own instincts since Humans started living on the earth and during our evolution, we all strived to proof our beauty and reach to our standards of beauty. Beauty influences our social status in the community, and it is one eesential part in our presentation to the world, but other facets at the same time, play a role in our socialization which are really more important than the “natural beauty”; i.e. our behavior,our interactions, and our verbal communication; in a way that an average girl with humble personality is more accepted and welcomed that snub, introverted girl. The subject of beauty has its pecular charactristic, which is its “diversity”. No one in the world can claim that he/she is the most beautiful person, because people have different tastes and ideas in a way that some men like short women, others like dark-hair women, and some like women with small boobs.So, the norm of society will dictate each of us to follow beauty protocols as far as we saturate ourselves; but not that far that we actually damage our body, hurt others or alter our ordinary way of living, which then we may be called mentally sick and obsessive. The subject of beauty includes both men and women, and so this subject matters to both sexes; but in regard to women , we should know that beauty is a matter of age, that we usually do not care about it while we are infant or child that our mind is mesmorized most with playing and learning, or when we get old enough as a senior, “oldness” autonomously will set new priorities for us like being physically healthy and well; because health issues like cancer and stroke matters to us. I really liked what Richard Robins states that If you worry about your looks, you are surely hotter that what you think; as it is the case for most of us. I myself think that women, especially young and middle aged adults really need some confidence as a replacement of the complementary beauty which they are seeking for; because they already have some natural beauty in their face and body which is pleasurable for many men that makes them really attractive. In fact, they only need to find out their strenghts and their positive points and then boost those aspects and be self-assured that they had, have, and will have something to present to the outside world.

  13. Growing up as a young boy, the idea of being perfect and fitting in was never as much of a worry as it was for young girls. However, I did face some bullying for the size of my lips, but I got over it quickly as I became a young man. For young girls, however, the bullying only gets worse. I cannot even begin to imagine the hardships girls face as they grow to become young women. The article states how as a child, certain features may get made fun of, but as girls grow up, those same features they were made fun of for, turn into unique characteristics that make a girl more attractive. As a young man, I would have to agree with this statement. A guy loves nothing more than a girl with her own uniqueness and confidence. If a girl can own up to her different qualities and wear them with pride, a man will instantly be attracted to her. However, this idea is something that should be taught to girls at young ages so they grow up learning how to be confident in their own skin rather than deal with bullying and learn at a very late age. There is no reason girls should be following a “beauty standard.”

  14. I have wondered what makes a woman want to re-construct her face in those ways. When the woman is naturally beautiful, why doesn’t she want to keep it that way. Everyone in the world I’m sure does have flaws, but there can be a way to live with them. I have noticed that every time I walk into some place there are people that look at me. I use to always think of why are they, but not anymore. I like the way kids look up at me because of my height. I think the kids hope that they can grow to be tall some day. I think it is okay when women will get some of the small things done for them, but please do not re-construct yourself. A person will not look familiar if they complete something that way.
    Natural and original will always be the best.

  15. I personally feel like the media has such a tight hold on how women look at themselves. Today in the modeling society a size 6 is considered a plus size model. Now they are telling average size women they are fat. It’s no wonder women have such low opinions of themselves. Women need to embrace themselves and their beauty. Every woman has their own beauty and shouldn’t be compared to the looks of others. Real beauty that should be judged is how we treat other people. Not what size our dress is. If you want to lose weight it should be for yourself and to make yourself healthy and feel beautiful for yourself, not based on what other people think you should look like. Stay healthy biologicallyrics but you should never conform to what other people want. Everyone who shows their true personality is beautiful.

  16. After reading this article I can say that I can compare to the guy with the cricket teeth but instead of my teeth is my face that it’s so red and I just cant be comfortable with people looking at my face without having my hair all over my face. but I learned through this article that people are just focused of their own flaws instead of mine so I shouldn’t be worried. I can feel better of myself without thinking about how people view me, so I learned that I have beauty no matter what.

  17. This is something I have thought about for so long. The “western” ideal of beauty continues to apply to women (and also to men, but they react differently). I still see how the supposedly “unattractive men” continue to get the jobs and the partners; but then the supposedly “unattractive woman” remains unemployed and single; which means that women continue to be at a disadvantage, unless they finally “dress up”, put tons of make-up on, and agree to play the game; or move to a different country where these ideals of beauty are no longer practiced.

  18. Related but slightly tangential: this post made me think of the related cultural trope that says part of a beautiful woman’s beauty relies on her being oblivious to her own attractiveness. Or that she must always remain insecure about it. “She doesn’t know she’s beautiful” is just one of so many pop hits extolling this “virtue.”

    The “even when you win, you lose” nature of it all makes me headdesk hard enough I see stars…

    • That’s a good point. And I think it can encourage the other problem I’m talking about. Girls are looked down upon if they think they are attractive, And so they may deny that they are to themselves, Making them feel worse about themselves. Having done this in the past, I’m sure I’m not alone.

  19. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. i have a really hard time with my own body image. My boyfriend tells me all the time that what I see in the mirror is not even close to what i actually look like. I have actually asked him before if I was the same size as any given woman that I viewed as pretty or attractive. And even in the case he said I was thinner or whatever it is, I don’t see it,.
    This post actually made me feel a lot better in the short read. I do not fall into any of the categories that you discussed and that truly shone some light on it. Thank you for all of your great words. i plan on continuing to read your work even after I am done with my womens studies class.

  20. Nice one. Sometimes, I just go out in my night dress and my hair tied in bun without thinking much, how people around me would react at me. When I am in mood to get ready properly I will and when I am not, I just dont think much and just wear what I feel!

  21. I find this blog quite great! Because before reading this post I can say I used critize myself and It is because growing up I was always thicker not necessarily big but a more full body, and Everyone would always critize me and compare me with my sister because she was perfect, My mother would always tell me I should be more like her because she wears make-up everyday and gets ready and I have always been more simple and layed back, after a couple of years of being judged and compared too, i found that I felt I could never look like her so I gave up and let myself go alittle and suddenly became what they told me I would. Now I am even more self conscious who doesnt want to get ready or even go out becuase I feel disgusting. But truly I should believe that all those images of famous women with incredibly hot bodys or looks are altered and no one can possibly look like that .

  22. Sometimes I look at old pictures of myself and want to cry. Why did I not think I was more attractive (I was gorgeous)! I’ll probably be saying the same thing about how I look now when I’m older.

  23. Great post, enjoyed reading it. Most women give too much importance to their looks, some making it an obsession. One should try to be happy with her/his outer appearance, inner beauty of mind matters more… 🙂

  24. So true.. it’s not our bodies but our societally-distorted visions that need to be tweaked. Only then can we really see ourselves.

  25. While women feel more pressure with their looks, unfortunately boys and girls can feel shame in their looks and body when in elementary or middle school. I know plenty of boys, my friend included who were teased and picked on by other boys because they were “fat”. Or the goofy looking, awkward kid, etc. I know guys who are still a little self conscious about their weight because of their past in school. Bullying unfortunately can be a big thing even more so than magazines as far as self esteem of one’s looks and body goes..

  26. thanks for letting me know that I am hotter than I think 🙂

    I have an acquaintance who always has to put on her “face” before she goes out in public. It takes her an hour every morning.

    She always takes selfies that look nothing like her, posts them on Tinder then wonders why the “relationships” with the tinder guys don’t last.

    Just be yourself. That’s all we can strive for.

  27. A great post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and I feel quite good about myself. I am one of those women that goes out without making sure I always look presentable….. It’s wonderful having the freedom to be & to look how you want to… Whether it be with make-up, without, in gym gear or in something a bit smarter. 🙂 🙂

    • Thank you. More of us could learn from you.

      • Thank you. Experience in life teaches us many things. The older I get the more confident I get. We think and feel different at certain stages in our life. Perhaps those are the lessons. I know I was not as confident in my 20’s, I felt different in my 30’s & 40’s. Now that I am in my 50’s there are so many other things in life to enjoy. Getting on and embracing life, maintaining good health and pursuing ones passions. A good recipe to follow. 🙂 Milanka

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