Of course, I’ve never chosen my friends by how beautiful they are.  And I’ve never judged them on their level of attractiveness.  Not only am I a feminist, I’m also not an ass.  But recently, I created a Facebook album featuring favorite photos of all of my closest friends.  The plan was to honor them and to have a concrete reminder of all of the wonderful people in my life,  (I think that’s actually a suggestion for toddlers–creating a photo album of all of the kid’s relatives so the kid will recognize them and know who cares about hir.  I never had that, but I did have an album of construction equipment and street cleaners.) but it also served a surprising purpose to me. 

I don’t always find myself attractive, and I’ve only recently been able to admit that it’s related to an all-too-common middle school experience when the guy I liked had his friend tell me how ugly I was.  I’m a sensitive person and I have the memory of an elephant, so of course, it remained in the back of my mind, even now.  I had conjunctivitis recently, and I was disappointed to find that I was less bothered by the inconvenience  and general gooiness than I was by not being able to wear my usual eye makeup.  I don’t shave my legs or armpits, I have short, “unfeminine” hair, I work at a place that has “feminist” in its name, but I can’t feel confident without eyeliner and mascara. 

The other day, when I wasn’t wearing makeup, I was looking at my Facebook album, and as planned, I was reminding myself how fortunate I was to have 27+ people (and two animals) in my life who adore me.  And I might be biased, of course, but I also noticed how very attractive each and every one of them is, in hir own right.  It’s easy for me to create a beauty standard when I’m reading Cosmo (which I do read–critically, and when I swipe it from the waiting room at work to read during lunch), but when it comes to “real life” people, that damn standard is out the window. And I thought, “I hope they all realize how beautiful they are.”  And it’s sad that chances are, they don’t all recognize that.  And the I look in the mirror, and how can I not think that about myself?  

It’s not actually popular to find oneself attractive, but I don’t think it’s wholly a bad thing, especially since I know so many people who do have the same misperception of themselves as I do.  I’ve never really considered the hottness of my friends until now, at age 26, except in instances where I was struggling not to envy them for how conventionally beautiful they were.  And I wish I had started considering it sooner, because it makes me a lot more gentle than myself.  After all, if I were my friend, I would probably verbally smack myself for my self-criticism. 

(I should probably also stop with the makeup/body hair dichotomy, and be proud that I can even challenge the notion of what a feminist looks like.  And yes, I do have the T-shirt.)