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How Attractive Am I? What You Need to Know About Attractiveness

How attractive am I to others?

Am I attractive at all?

In some ways, it seems like society is putting more focus than ever on visual appeal for both men and women. We use dating apps to quickly assess whether we find someone cute, and if we don’t, we can just swipe left and remove them from our lives. And it’s definitely worse for you women: you have magazines trying to sell you all kinds of products to “fix” whatever is wrong with you. When, in fact, nothing at all is the matter with you!

But still, I understand. You may wonder how attractive you are, and that’s completely natural. If you recently got out of a relationship or were divorced, your confidence may be shaken, and you may want some security in knowing you can still attract the opposite sex.

I totally get it.

Attractiveness is like the Holy Grail for many people, particularly if they’re single. I want to tackle this huge subject for you by giving you some fantastic data and insights.

In this post, I want to dive into the topic of beauty and attraction, make you really examine how you see yourself, and then help you consider how others see you. I’m going to tell you about a couple of fascinating studies on this topic of attractiveness too, so stay tuned!

First: How Do You See Yourself? How Attractive Am I?

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and before you start wondering what others think of you, I want you to be that beholder for a minute.

How do you see yourself? Do you think you’re attractive?

The problem for most of us is that we’re too close to our own physical appearance. We track every wrinkle, every zit. We know when we’re having a bad hair day. Being in a bad mood can impact how we feel about our looks, and having self-esteem can make us feel positive about our attractiveness.

It’s hard to be objective when it comes to assessing your own looks.

If, when you ask yourself, am I attractive, you don’t have an answer, consider what you find attractive in other people.

Is it a perfect face? Probably not. Is it a genuine smile? Maybe laugh lines? Dark eyes? Is it more of an individual’s personality or confidence that makes them attractive to you? Knowing what appeals to you in others can help you determine how you see yourself physically.

I know it’s easy to criticize our own looks.

Ug. That zit covers my entire nose. I’m hideous!

These gray hairs make me feel so old!

I don’t fit in any of my cute clothes anymore.

You’re far from alone. In a thread on Reddit, participants commented on the question “How attractive am I and why?”

The majority were pretty harsh on themselves. I have trouble believing there are that many ugly people in the world.

I want you to realize that beauty isn’t just skin deep. It goes into your soul, into who you are. If you genuinely feel like a sexy, confident lady, then by golly, you are. No one’s opinion of you or your attractiveness matters nearly as much as your own opinion does.

How Do Others See You? Do You Know How Attractive You Are?

You searched for “how attractive am I to others,” so I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that you’re not completely sure how others see you.

Maybe you’re basing your self-worth on how few guys you’ve met on dating apps, where, as I said, you’re pretty much judged superficially, at least at the start. Or maybe you don’t get responses to the messages you send to guys, and now you’re criticizing yourself, thinking it’s your looks that didn’t spark his interest.

So if you’re basing how you think others see you on your dating app results, here’s why you shouldn’t.

1. Your Profile Pics Tell a Limited Story

Even if you took the time to pick out the photos and selfies of you that made you look as awesome as possible, those photos are only two-dimensional, so they only show what you look like in one pose. Because you’re smiling for the camera, that might not be what you look like when you’re smiling out of happiness. We tend to look different for the camera.

2. Everyone’s Looking for Something Different

You might have gone all out with the makeup in your dating pics, but did you know that 86% of men prefer women with light and natural makeup? So while you might think you’re making yourself more attractive by piling on the makeup, you might, in fact, be turning more men away than you knew.

But beyond makeup, there are men who are into voluptuous women. Men who like skinny ladies. Guys who like big lips. Big hips. Big eyes. You can’t please everyone, nor do you want to. But know that there is a segment of the population who’s into exactly what you have to offer.

3. In-Person, Attraction is Different

Because your dating profile pics capture you frozen in time, you may look completely different to someone when you meet them in person. Maybe your mouth is crooked when you talk, or you raise your eyebrows a lot. These are things that don’t show up in photos. And then there’s the whole chemistry thing. You can’t know that you have chemistry with someone just by looking at their photo. But when you meet them in person, you’ll know if you’re physically attracted to them.

And hey, if you don’t want to go on dead-end dates, check out the up-and-coming dating app Pheramor. This dating app takes a DNA sample from you, combines it with your social media activity, and matches you with men who you’re guaranteed to have sexual chemistry with!

I ramble on about dating apps because they’re a good example of why you shouldn’t assume you know how others see you, or use them as a metric for how attractive you are.

You could argue that everyone in the world is attractive…to someone. The guy who smiled at you with missing teeth in the checkout line may not be your cup of tea, but somewhere out there is a woman who would find him adorable.

Do We Usually See Ourselves as Others See Us?

There’s almost always a disconnect between how attractive we find ourselves and how attractive we think others find us. Nearly always, we think we are less attractive than others do.

It goes back to what I said earlier in this article: you scrutinize how attractive you are and every single flaw you think you have far more than anyone else does. You may have spent 20 minutes bemoaning how your hair wouldn’t lay flat, but then you walked to Starbucks and some guy totally checked you out. He didn’t have the information about your hair struggle, and even if he did, he wouldn’t have changed his mind about finding you attractive.

And if you’re in a long-term relationship, you might think your fella loves you in spite of your flaws, but allow me to speak for him just a moment:

He actually loves you because of those (perceived) flaws.

Men are totally into your dimple, your stretch marks, and your curved belly. I’m not making this up! Ask your man what he thinks of whatever you think is so terrible about your body, and I guarantee he will have a different perspective than you. What a guy.

Scientists have studied what’s referred to as meta-accuracy, or how well what you think of yourself matches with what others think of you. In nearly all of the studies, what individuals thought of themselves in terms of attractiveness or personality didn’t align with how their friends and family saw them.

What Psychological Distance Does for How We View Ourselves

Nicholas Epley, a behavioral scientist at the University of Chicago, and Tal Eyal, a psychologist at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University, have conducted several studies to assess the correlation between how people view their own attractiveness and how others do. All the studies showed a discrepancy between the two views, showing that the subjects being rated for attractiveness were usually harder when rating their own attractiveness.

In one study, students were photographed and told that other students would be rating them for attractiveness. Some participants were told that they would be rated the same day, while others were told they would be rated in a few months. The students were then asked to predict how attractive they anticipated other people would find their photo.

The ones who were told they would be rated in months were more accurate in assessing how others would rate them than those who were told they would be rated the same day.


There was more psychological distance between the time participants were photographed and when people would rate them, and so those who would be rated later were able to better see themselves through the eyes of someone else.

If you were one of those students and you were having a bad day, you’d probably predict that someone assessing your attractiveness that same day would score you low. On the other hand, if someone was going to rate you in a few months, that bad day seems less important, so you might predict they’d score you higher.

Make sense?

Make sense?

The Role of Chemistry in Attraction

When you ask how attractive am I, what you’re probably asking is how attractive am I to this particular person?

Because really: do you care how attractive you are to the entire world, or do you want one specific person to go gaga for you? Whether you’re in a relationship or looking for one, you want that one person to be drawn to you like a moth to a flame.

Attraction and attractiveness are based significantly on chemistry. You might find someone mildly attractive in a photo, but in person, MAN! Is he hot!

What happens to make such different responses?

It might be how you smell, for starters.

You’ve heard of pheromones, right? They’re the chemicals we release from our bodies that can alter the behavior of others. There have been ample studies on animals and insects, which have proven that pheromones are involved in sexual attraction for them, and there are some assumptions that the same applies to humans.

Voice and scent, too, play a role in attraction. Science backs this up. So before you spend three hours in the bathroom getting ready for a first date, gargle some salt water to make sure your voice is clear and sexy, and use your favorite body wash, because he might be more attracted to you through those things than your physical looks!

Just don’t assume that a photo alone is enough to know if someone finds you attractive. All the more reason to go on those first dates!

And What About Personality?

Sally: I went out with a guy last night.

Jessi: Was he cute?

Sally: He had a good personality.

I don’t know when a “good personality” became a euphemism for being unattractive.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a good personality!

In fact, having a pleasant personality might make you more attractive to certain people. Let’s look at a couple of scientific studies that prove this.

Science Backs It Up: Personality Matters in Attractiveness

A study at the Huazhong University in China discovered that certain positive personality traits made people more attractive.

Here’s how they did it: 120 people were shown photos of women with neutral expressions on their faces and asked to rate them on attractiveness. Two weeks later, they performed the same task, but this time half the photos had positive personality descriptions like kind and honest, and half had negative personality descriptions like mean and dishonest.

I’m sure you’ve already guessed this, but those photos with the positive descriptions were ranked higher for attractiveness.

Even if those women weren’t actually kind or honest, associating those qualities with their images made people — both men and women — find them more attractive than those with the negative descriptions.

People might assume that because you are kind that you might also be honest or even a good mother. At an evolutionary level, a man might be attracted to you if you have a good personality because he believes you might pass along those traits to your offspring, whether or not you actually have any together!

Allow me to nerd out on you just a bit. Psychologists have several theories about personality. One, the “Big Five” model, says that most people’s personality traits can be described in terms of the five major factors:

  1. Neuroticism

  2. Extraversion

  3. Agreeableness

  4. Conscientiousness

  5. Openness to experience

We all have varying levels of each of these traits. But then another theory considers that all of these can be lumped into one “superfactor,” also called a general factor of personality, or GFP. If you have a high GFP, you might be low in the neuroticism department, but high in the others. In general, a higher GFP indicates a good personality, and therefore more attractive as a person!

So I bring up all this science stuff to make a point: don’t take an online attractiveness quiz to figure out if you’re cute or not because it goes beyond what your face looks like. You could be the most beautiful woman in the world physically, but if you’re horrible to people, you won’t be beautiful at all, really.

If you want to feel more attractive, work on being nicer to the people around you.

When You Think About How Attractive You Are Too Much

Like I said at the start of this article: it’s completely normal to wonder “how attractive am I.” But if you’re spending a significant portion of your life worrying about your flaws, this isn’t normal and you might need to be concerned about your behavior.

There’s this disorder called body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) that some people suffer from, which can cause them to obsess with real or perceived physical flaws. I’m not talking using the up-close mirror to whine about wrinkles for 30 seconds every morning.

I’m talking spending hours worrying about them. Being unable to function normally because of the stress this causes. Missing work or social functions because you don’t want people to see your crooked nose, giant thighs, or spaced-out eyes.

People who suffer from BDD might undergo plastic surgery to fix the imperfections they see, but may never actually get results that make them happy. Just look at Kerry Miles, a woman who has spent over £100,000 in an effort to turn herself into a human Barbie doll! She may very well suffer from body dysmorphic disorder, and may never reach her goal to turn into — for Pete’s sake — a doll.