Earlier this week, I saw a woman’s tweet on my feed saying how she feels beautiful in the way only women find her beautiful. Since then, I’ve thought of reasons why I relate so much to that. Because I legitimately don’t think that I really appeal to men that often. Which, by the way, is totally fine. However, when they do… it always surprises me. That’s why it became such a shock to me when a guy liked me and later became my boyfriend. This doesn’t necessarily reflect with my confidence or self-esteem. It’s not a sad thing. I love my skin, I love my body, and I love the way I look. I feel perfectly happy with the way I am.
But… I do feel like I am the kind of pretty that only women find pretty and here’s why:
Sexuality plays a part in it.
I know, I know. Here I go again, talking about sexuality. But, it does relate to the reason why I feel this way. When people of any sexuality stop centering men in their lives, they would start settling into a more authentic self that other women only really recognize and find beautiful. This explanation came from Sarah Schauer, a nonbinary person from TikTok.
“Women are art. But, men perceive women as porn, you’re still art regardless. But, if you center men in your lives, you’re going to adopt their perception and end up adjusting your body or your style according to how men think is best. I’m not saying that gay women can’t also succumb to patriarchal beauty standards. But, body modifications and how you dress… you can tell when someone centers men in their lives. With femme lesbians, oftentimes, the reason why they can be feminine or masculine is that they have decentered men. And, they’re now making artistic choices through their perception of art itself. You know, and that’s like how that girl said, ‘I’m pretty in the way the other girls think how girls are pretty.’ It’s because you’re not looking through the lens of porn. You’re looking through the artistic lens.”
It has to do with the male gaze.
Men find certain things appealing and usually objectifies us. Not all men do that, sure, but most men do. When a woman compliments me, I receive it differently. I take it as a sign that I actually am pretty. If a woman noticed the care I put into my hair or my make-up or the outfit I put together, it makes me feel valid and approved. With men? I immediately assume they just want to get into my pants. Compliments from women mean more to men than whenever I receive compliments from men.
With women, I feel like there isn’t much agenda or posturing. Sure, lesbians and bisexual women exist. But, they still view women through the female gaze because they aren’t men. They still perceive women as art. This reminds me of how people think compliments from children sound funny. Because, generally, they have no filter. They say whatever they have in mind, especially toddlers. Children don’t know all the social rules that society has. So, if they say you look like a princess, it remains genuine.
As a bisexual woman in a long-term heterosexual relationship, I feel beautiful.
As a bisexual woman in a long-term heterosexual relationship, I feel beautiful. Not because I center my life around my boyfriend. But because I’ve stopped looking to him (or any men for that matter) for validation about the way I look, the way I dress, and the way I carry myself. I feel beautiful because I have stopped adopting the male perception. And, even though I get attracted to women, I don’t look at them the way straight men do. When I see an attractive woman, the first instinct I have doesn’t include me sexualizing them.
If some guy makes a comment about the way I look, the whole thing seems so loaded. Whenever this happens, I want to tell them to fuck off. I think they can’t comprehend that there’s this incredibly rich culture behind what women choose to wear or how they present themselves. Yet, a narrative exists that women dress up to appeal to men. And, it feels demeaning and sad that they don’t even know this.
Personally, I feel beautiful… not because my boyfriend said so. But, because I’ve stopped adopting the male perception.
Angela Grace P. Baltan is a Communication graduate from Colegio de San Juan de Letran. She doesn’t hesitate to be opinionated in analyzing movies and television series. As a writer, she uses her articles to advocate for feminism, gender equality, and mental health among others.