Intro

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Beautiful People

What is it like, day-to-day, to be remarkably attractive?

I want to make one thing clear right off the bat: this collection isn’t an attack on attractive people, or the act of finding them attractive.

There are many reasons I share photo stories on this site, but one is to help people understand what it’s like to be someone else. Day-to-day, the reality, not the fantasy. When you’re good-looking, any stranger can tell that you’ve been fortunate. What rarely comes up — for reasons of intimidation, jealousy, or just the fact that it’s not easy for people to talk about being beautiful — are the complications of that good fortune.

I want to thank the team at Quora for their help with this showcase, because their well-structured question and answer site does a wonderful job of helping people both explain their own situation and understand other people’s. If reading through the perspectives below makes you want to add your own thoughts, follow this link to do that at Quora.

Published November 2, 2011

Intro and Design Laura Brunow Miner

Special thanks to Quora

Header Photos by Tyler Sharp

one
Model Behavior

Model Behavior

Twenty-one years old and pushing six feet tall, Kate Mitchell is the kind of young woman you see in magazines or in music videos, literally. During a recent video interview, Kate enlightened me on the perks and pitfalls of being a model. Though you won’t hear her call herself a “model” if she can help it, because she also has a degree in fashion merchandising and also started her own vintage re-sale company, Rummage.

I normally just say that I work in the fashion industry. … If it comes down to it, and they ask me, I’ll tell them I’m a model. But then they assume you don’t eat, or that you’re just pretty and don’t do anything, and make a lot of money, so I try to stay away from saying I’m a model. But it is hard to explain that it is actually an extremely hard job.”

Sometimes you’ll go in for jobs and [the client will] say, “you’re fat,” or “your shoulders are too broad,” or “you’re too short,” and you have to be prepared for that. It’s also a lot of maintenance, and because I wasn’t very girly when I first started modeling, and always wore shorts and a t-shirt, it took some getting used to. You have to always have your nails done, your hair has to be cut and the same color, and you have to be wearing makeup. Sometimes we only get an hour’s notice before a job, and if you’re not perfect, or if you get a bruise on your leg, it’s a huge deal. You have to kind of always be perfect and pretty, and that’s not me, so that’s been a really hard thing to keep up with.

Photographer: Tyler Sharp

Tyler Sharp is a photographer, writer, and videographer based out of Dallas. He is currently organizing a horseback ride up the historic Chisholm Trail in Texas.

two

What does it feel like to be attractive and desired by many?”

Coupled with a decent personality & modest intellect your life tends to be pretty easy; people will believe you more, teachers will give you bigger breaks, girls will give you more chances, other males will generally want to be your friend when in the context of a social situation, job interviews become easier, negotiations become easier & getting into “exclusive” places becomes easier.

Austin Bunson on Quora

Answered on

three
Southern Charm

Southern Charm

Stewart Pillow and I have been close friends for years, but it still makes me shake my head as people stop to stare at him walking down the street. He lives in Nashville, pursuing a career as a singer and songwriter, so those devastating eyebrows are as useful for emphasizing moments in his songs as he performs as they are for celebrating successful shows afterward. He never lets someone he doesn’t know buy him a drink — you have to earn a chance to find out that there’s a clever conversationalist animating that pretty face. Most importantly, I know him to be kind, which we both agree is better than being conventionally beautiful.

Photographer: Kristen Taylor

I drink raw milk and live in Brooklyn.

four
Part of the Mix

Part of the Mix

Belly dancer Stephanie Chiang acknowledged that aesthetic judgment is always a part of the show. “If that bothers you, this ain’t the right line of work,” she quipped. Moreover, she suggested that in the belly dance, conventional beauty is akin to a hurdle — audiences often look first for a spectacle, and a beautiful dancer will capture their attention. She explained, however, that “[conventional beauty] matters like an element in a potpourri matters: you can’t just throw it out, but you can’t have just that.” Once you have their attention, you have to be able to draw them in.

Photographer: Omari Stephens

I live in the SF Bay Area, and my passion is documenting the individuals and interactions around me.

five

What does it feel like to be attractive and desired by many?”

I get wide eyed stares whether I’m wearing makeup or not. My husband thinks I’m hilarious because I still have a kind of blindness for this staring and I always ask him if there’s something wrong with my face, and he just laughs at me; one of his colleagues asked him once when witnessing this “Do you tell her? Does she not know?”

Anonymous on Quora

Answered on

six
Full Stop

Full Stop

My modest friend Lorena doesn’t define herself as being attractive, but the compliments and ogling she receives prove otherwise. She shared with me that in regard to friendships, developing bonds with females is rarely an issue but it can be the opposite with men. She’s experienced a pattern of guys mistaking their friendship for something more, which in the end has required ending the relationship as a whole.

Photographer: Jorge Quinteros

Blogger, web enthusiast, and avid photographer based in Brooklyn.

seven
Molto Bella

Molto Bella

I asked Nicole, an agency-signed model, about the ups and downs of being beautiful. “As I began to grow up, I noticed that I was receiving a lot of attention from the opposite sex. People are surprised when I recount to them my bad luck with boyfriends. I’ve been cheated on and lied to and gone through painful breakups. Everyone says, ‘Really, you? You’re too pretty. He’s an idiot. If there is no hope for you, there is no hope for the rest of us.’

I had a daughter, Bella, when I was a teenager. My inner and outer beauty was questioned and judged at that time in my life. Bella’s father and I are no longer together, which is a perfect example that things don’t work out for people who are conventionally beautiful. I tend not to tell anyone about it for fear that it would change their view of me, inside and out.

The truth is, being beautiful does not make you innately immune from others doing wrong unto you. It doesn’t guarantee a faithful romantic partner or being treated with respect. If anything, it changes the entire game. You have to be careful with girlfriends’ significant others, for fear of inciting jealousy and you must analyze whether or not another person’s intentions are pure.

So much of my personal value has been placed on what I look like. It’s sad. Looks don’t last. So as I age, will I lose my value?”

Photographer: Ashley Batz

I’m a full-time photographer in San Jose, California. I practice yoga, am a hip hop dancer, believe in a good soy chai latte, and regularly make blanket forts.

eight

What does it feel like to be attractive and desired by many?”

Good looks fade over time, leaving you empty if you can no longer be proud of them. They can also be very distracting — the hot social scenes are drama-filled and time-consuming. The hookup/dating scenes can often play with your emotions like a roller coaster.

More importantly, after realizing I was hot, I also realized that joining these scenes distracted me a lot from my work. I was surrounding myself with people who were social experts, but rarely had the same career goals as myself. It’s rare to find hot guys as the top people in their fields!

Anonymous on Quora

Answered on

nine
Late Bloomer

Late Bloomer

Hika and I have known each other since we were in preschool in Lower Manhattan. Sometime during high school, our first time in separate schools, she decided to change her image. She began wearing more flattering clothes and she went to a dermatologist. At 17, she was recruited by a modeling agency. But I don’t think it changed her personality. She says that she’s embarrassed when people talk about her modeling, especially since her Japanese parents have always emphasized being humble (personally, I enjoy telling people that my oldest best friend is a model). She says that people have never really judged her to be stupid, but she jokes this may be because she’s Asian. This summer she appeared on American Apparel’s website as a model. When she’s asked if she’s happy with her appearance, she hesitates but then she lets slip an enthusiastic “Yes! I feel obnoxious taking about how much I like my appearance, but I feel really blessed to look the way I do. I can feel good about myself without makeup and it definitely helps my ego having a great boyfriend who tells me I’m beautiful almost everyday. I still have my bad days, but I think every girl has those moments.”

Photographer: Hannah Moch

Hannah Moch is a student living in New York City. She enjoys photographing the benign and fantastical parts of her life and hopes to continue to do so for the rest of her days.

ten

What does it feel like to be attractive and desired by many?”

The hardest interaction is certainly in intimate relationships with men. There are two aspects of this that sting, partners that have no idea who I am, and partners that expect perfection. I look at someone I just met, who “has me all figured out.” The amount of crazy beliefs that are slogged onto me in relationships is truly breathtaking. I can honestly say I don’t think any partner I have ever had has ever truly known me. … I am the sum result of whatever they think I am. I am the dream girl. They have accomplished the goal in getting me so then we just coast. … It is equally difficult to stare into someone’s eyes that expects utter perfection at every moment. … I want to be perfect for them. Not run around and do tasks really, more like be the ideal they have in their heads so they keep believing that good is real and possible.

Isica Lynn on Quora

Answered on

eleven
Amanda

Amanda

Amanda told me that friendships with men are sometimes complicated by their attraction to her. Outward beauty can be intoxicating, and make it hard to know the person behind it.

Photographer: Tyler Finck

Font maker and photo taker in Ithaca, New York.

twelve
Maintaining Grace

Maintaining Grace

Grace Serrano is an aspiring actress. She is twenty-four and just as nice and modest as she is strikingly attractive. Genuinely somewhat oblivious to her good looks, she claims she’s not photogenic when approached for this shoot. “I don’t consider myself, like, Wow. I think I have my days.” She admits that mechanics have given her gratis work, and that hardware store employees stumble over themselves to help her, but added, “I never try to take advantage. I don’t feel like I have that leverage to take advantage. But once it happens, it happens.” One group remains impervious to her charms, though. “You hear of girls getting out of tickets. Nope, I’ve never been able to do that. Police officers are a different story. They have no pity.”

Photographer: David Herron

David A. Herron is a wandering dilettante with a camera.

thirteen

What does it feel like to be attractive and desired by many?”

Humans value genetic perfection. An attractive person is seen as having better taste and judgment in nearly everything. An attractive person can do horrendous things and get away with them since people want to know and like people with good genes regardless of their actions. Everyone wants to be their friends, male or female alike. If you work hard and are at all smart as an extremely attractive person, you can do literally anything you want.

Anonymous on Quora

Answered on

fourteen
Standing Out

Standing Out

In her native Malaysia, Grace finds that other women generally think that she is conceited and unfriendly. The comment that she often receives is “Oh, I never thought you’d be such a nice and friendly person because you have that sharp nose that makes you look arrogant!” She’s tall by Asian standards and whenever she wears high heels, her friends tell her, “Hey, you don’t have to wear heels to get all the attention you know, it just makes us look relatively shorter when standing beside you!”

Photographer: Song Kean Tang

I have lived in Penang, an island state of Malaysia, all of my life. My day job is with a US company, but taking good photos is my passion.

fifteen

What does it feel like to be attractive and desired by many?”

From the ages of 9 to around 14 I lived in the Philippines. I’m ethnically Filipino and look very typically Pinay. Petite (I don’t quite reach 5 feet tall), long black wavy hair, almond eyes, button nose, tan skin. My features are pretty symmetrical and I’m more buxom than most but overall average. I was basically the opposite of what was the standard of beauty in the Philippines. Short, brown with a flat nose when being tall, fair with a aquiline nose was ideal. I used skin whitening lotion and stayed out of the sun to lighten my skin, my mother use to pinch my nose and pull it up so it would grow “taller”. Speaking of taller I would eat disgusting “growth balls” that tasted like nasty butter. I dyed my hair brown and “rebonded” it so it was nice and straight.

The worst part was not being ignored even though I basically was. I had only two boys during that entire time that took any interest in me. The worst thing was always feeling like something was wrong with me. That I had to fix something. It was emotionally exhausting.

When I was 14, we moved back to America. My parents and especially my mom was really surprised that strangers would come up to her in the store/groceries and say how beautiful her daughter was. Wham bam- I was considered pretty! Got asked out often, got complimented often. It only got more pronounced as I grew older and went to Stanford and settled in San Francisco.

It’s weird that what I now consider to be my best features are the ones I desperately tried to change. My hair, my skin, my nose. I’d probably say those are my best features and the ones I get complimented on the most.

Tiffany Echavez Pintor on Quora

Answered on

sixteen
Like Honey

Like Honey

“Even though people tell me I’m a beauty, I have to say that I’ve never felt that way. I grew up as an ugly duckling with big heavy glasses and a scrawny body. Then, when I suddenly blossomed in high school and grew some bewbs that started to attract guys like honey, I began to experience a different reality. People would give me things, let me cut in front of them in line, and generally go out of their way to be nice. I have a ton of energy and I’ve always found it more natural to have guy friends, so I still consider myself a tomboy in many ways. I feel that a lot of “beautiful people” are given a bum rap, but if you just come up and talk with us, you’ll find each person is unique.” — Lo Huynh

Photographer: Mike Minadeo

Based in Orange County, I’m a communications consultant for non-profit organizations. I also volunteer my time teaching a photography class for the Braille Institute.

seventeen
Sweet Carolina

Sweet Carolina

Carolina and I met almost exactly a year ago, here in Buenos Aires. She is one of the most lovely, gracious, and beautiful people I have ever met. To me, she defines conventional beauty as she is beautiful inside and out. As she is a modest person, she is not particularly comfortable speaking about her own beauty. Naturally she acknowledges the looks and attention that is oftentimes thrown her way, however she prefers to stay out of the spotlight. As a fashion journalist she is quite conscious and aware of her own personal style, and admits to putting some effort into her looks. Clearly she’s doing many things right.

Photographer: Adrien de Bontin

Born in Paris, raised in Vienna, and educated in the United States, Adrien has had the good fortune of traveling between continents since an early age. Currently residing in Buenos Aires, he has been a contributor to a number of periodicals such as Blackbook, Travel & Leisure, Time Out, La Nacion, 90+10, DMAG, DNITE, and Elle.

eighteen

What does it feel like to be attractive and desired by many?”

  • When you walk into a room people will often stop, look up, stare, or do a mental or literal double take.
  • People are more subconsciously (or consciously) aware of your presence and location in their environment, you’re on their “radar.”
  • People take more notice of you in conversation. When someone says something in a group discussion you’ll often be among those everyone looks to for reaction.
  • People will almost certainly remember your face better. You won’t have that awkward situation where you recognize someone and they don’t recognize you. It’s often the other way around.
  • When you’re in a public area you’ll often look up to find someone quickly looking away. You get used to people just looking at you for extended periods of time when they think you won’t notice.
  • If you’re around someone who especially lacks exposure to young attractive folks (say an older blue-collar worker, or a Walmart bagger or something), and you surprise them with a greeting or conversation, they’ll often look at you like you’re an alien entity for the moment it takes to take you in (sometimes this lasts for the entire duration of the conversation, which can be very uncomfortable). Their reaction can be any sort of mixture between surprise, suspicion, dislike, generally being taken-aback (pleasantly or unpleasantly), unnecessary humility, and/or even something that looks a bit like personal shame (this always makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable). Just by being attractive you seem to make people feel as if they’re being put on the spot, and it can make people edgy, rude, shy, over-appeasing, or defensive.

Anonymous on Quora

Answered on

nineteen
Hey Little Sister

Hey Little Sister

“So, Luli, what’s it like being so damn cute?”

She ignores me. I raise my voice.

“Lul! I’m talking to you?”

“Whaaaaaa-aaaat?” She flashes her annoyed expression, completely inappropriate for a five-year-old.

“I asked you what it was like being so adorable.”

Luli pauses.

“You guys all buy me stuff. I like it.” She pauses again. “Will you go get me a skateboard?”

Photographer: Chessa Latifi

An award winning photographer, Chessa’s photography often coincides with humanitarian aid work around the world, which most recently includes Iraq and Haiti. Her photography serves to capture the essence and personality of each community, both here and there. When in the States, Chessa lives in Venice, California.

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