Thanks for your message. I’m very sorry you had to overcome rejection and bullying online, no one deserves that. I hear you’re struggling a lot with your appearance and that your current situation makes you feel hopeless. I will try to come up with a few things that could explain the way you feel and a few things you could try, if that is good with you.
So I think the first thing is that body image and confidence is never a fully objective, neutral or logical assessment of how you look : it will always be a result of personal preferences, beliefs and judgements, which are in turn influenced by our current society’s understanding of beauty and attractiveness. These societal beauty standards are created and curated by institutions like movies, publicity, fashion, social media and dating apps and they are more often than not realistic and completely unachievable. Something that can be useful to remember is that the vast majority of people are not perfection incarnate either. Everyone has flaws, some are just better at hiding them. With that in mind, I think it’s important that you don’t feel bad for looking like a normal average human being, like everyone else who doesn’t have Photoshop edits, Instagram filters, 8 stylists and millions of dollars.
Another important thing about social construction or beauty is that not everybody agrees 100% on what is pretty and attractive. A lot of different people have a lot of different likes and dislikes. Whichever of your characteristics you don’t like, be it your height, weight, skin color or facial features, I can assure you there’s someone out there who can love and be turned on by them. So far, you said you met a lot of people who you were incompatible with, that’s unfortunate but it’s not the end either. One of these days I believe you will find the right tribe, clique, group or person, like many before you.
According to your answers in the form, you are a gay indian teenager. All those three groups have their own sets of characteristics considered traditionally attractive. You could also be a part of other groups obviously. But it can be hard to be considered attractive with all these sometimes contradicting ideals. I found these few words from the article “3 gay men reflect on their body image” that could be of some comfort :
Decolonise your standards of beauty.
Love your flat Filipino nose and your coarse Asia-Pacific hair. Embrace your chunky build and your patchy brown skin. Wear your culture with pride, and celebrate your physical connection to your roots. Thank your Mum for the smile that turns your eyes into crescent moons, and for the ears you used to cling to whenever she sang you a Tagalog lullaby.
Concretely, another solution that works often is to try to replace your negative thoughts with more neutral or realistic ones, positives even if you can. For example, instead of putting yourself down it can be to focus what your body can do (breath move, think, etc.), or on things that you do like about your appearance (chest hair, hips, calves, wrists, eyebrows, ears, you name it, no matter how big or small it may seem) or that you like about yourself at large (qualities, skills, accomplishments, relationships, etc.). Eventually after a while, the goal is to get into the habit of being nice and kind to yourself. It’s the “fake until you make it” model to grow self-confidence and you’d be surprised how effective it can be sometimes.
Something that can be easy to try is to pick the clothes, hair, accessories, perfume, piercings and/or tattoos. Figuring out a style or aesthetic that you like and that works for you is easier than changing more fundamental parts of your physiology.
A last but still very important tip is that being healthy and happy generally tends to make you more attractive. Things like eating filling foods, fruits and vegetables, drinking a lot of water, doing some physical activities, getting enough sleep, having a skin care routine and talking about your feelings can yield amazing results. 🙂
If you continue to feel a lot of sadness and desperation, or if you ever feel like hurting yourself, I would recommend you go see a mental health professional. They can listen to you and give lots more great advice and tips. You don’t have to go through this alone, you know.
Here are some final additional readings I can offer, I’m sure there’s a few more things in them I forgot to cover :
- Body image: What is it, and how can I improve it? – MedicalNewsToday
- Body Image and Self-Esteem – TeensHealth
- Why Body Image Issues Pervade the Gay Community – GQ
- 3 gay men reflect on their body image – Reach Out
- Body Image, Racism, and Well-being among Gay and Bisexual Men of Colour (study report) – Imagine Men
In the end, independently of what you look like, I strongly believe you can find people who will love you and care for you, a place in the world and some happiness and joy. Even if it doesn’t feel very realistic right now, things can always change radically from one day to the next or more gradually over years. A decade from now you might feel completely differently than how you do now.
I hope some of this help! Please let us know if you need anything else.
Have a lovely week,
Maxime, peer support agent for AlterHeros
Iel/they/them, accords neutres