Photo: Luigi & Iango, Vogue Italia Jul 2017

What It’s Like to be Attractive in St Andrews

In the town of beautiful people, have you ever wondered what it’s really like to be top of the gene pool?

I’m attractive.

Just saying those two words is enough make people also think I’m vain, a narcissist, conceited, entitled or, quite simply, a bitch. But I’m none of these things. I like to think I’m actually a nice person. I just happen to also be attractive. Not, perhaps, the best looking person in a town bustling with beautiful people, but certainly more attractive than most.

Photo: Catwalk

Again, that comment enough is conclusive evidence that I’m a bitch, right? Well, not really. I’m not particularly proud of how I look as I never chose to look this way, no more than I chose to be an awkward, spotty teenager not too long ago. But just as that was the situation then, this is the situation now and I might as well be honest about it.

But mustn’t it be brilliant to be attractive? It is no secret that our society values beauty above most other traits and St Andrews is a microcosm for this. We’re unusually fashion conscious, demonstrated not only by the numerous fashion shows every year, but also by a quick walk down South Street on any busy day. Surely, it must be wonderful to be attractive in an attractive town which values attractiveness. After all, we know how terrible it must be to be ugly in this Bubble of ours.

Photo: St Andrews Charity Fashion Show

This article is not meant to downplay the experiences of the former writer or in any way make out that being attractive is a horrid burden. But it is to say that it’s not some sort of blessing which shields you from the general unpleasantness of life.

Looking good comes with a certain amount of pressure to, well, look good. When you’re used to getting compliments, you become acutely aware of when no one gives you any. In fact, people feel emboldened to criticise your new outfit or tell you the exact extent to which they dislike your hairstyle. After all, you’re attractive, so you can’t possibly be self-conscious, right?

One time, my skin broke out into huge and painful mounds all over. Thinking I might have had an allergic reaction or been stung by some sort of insect, I asked my friends what they thought it was. Instead of legitimate concern, my blotchy mess of a face was met by laughter. One of my friends told me that she ‘loved it’ when my skin broke out because it was usually “too perfect.” I don’t think they realised the amount of time I had spent in my school years burying my face under my shirt or positioning my fringe to cover up my spots. I don’t think they realised that their laughs took me right back to being that same ugly teen I had lived as for so much time.

Photo: Bruce Weber, Abercrombie & Fitch

And that’s the thing. Being attractive is nice but it in no way makes you less vulnerable to the demons we all have. Sometimes when I’m on my own and I see couples holding hands, just starting to fall in love, I think to myself, How can I look so much better than them but be so much lonelier as well? I suppose even I dupe myself that being attractive entitles me to a happiness which no one has the right to demand. And that loneliness, which I’m sure most people get at some point or another, doesn’t discriminate, good looks or not.

Now my point isn’t to make you feel sorry for attractive people. I’d much rather have my beauty than lose it – which is inevitable someday, anyway. But please don’t think that being attractive isolates someone from the troubles, vulnerability and pain that life will so generously dole out. Underneath the surface, we’re all just as messed up as each other.

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