Question of the Week: November 6th, 2018.

How do you feel about your physical appearance? 

Maybe six or seven years ago in a gender studies class of all women and afab nonbinary students the professor asked if any of us were actually happy with our appearance. She lamented the pressure media put on women to look a certain way and was sad that none of us may be actually happy with ourselves. I remember raising my hand and saying I don’t really feel social pressure to look a certain way or that my body needs to conform. Maybe it’s because I’m asexual but I’m not too concerned with looking sexy or with my body being hot. She thought about it for a minute and then shook her head. She didn’t think asexuality would have let me escape patriarchal gender oppression that would make me feel terrible about myself. I remember another student in the class said she felt really confident about her physical appearance because as she got older she looked more and more like her mother and she loved her mother. Everyone ‘awwhed’ at that answer and the professor smiled and accepted it.

Looking back on the experience I remember I was also in a long term relationship at the time and very sex-repulsed. Asexuality was an important part of why I wasn’t too concerned what other people thought of my body but it wasn’t the only thing. My repulsion is still present but has gone down a lot and I’ve noticed these days I care a little bit if other people find me attractive. Has anyone else noticed that they are less concerned about their appearance than allosexual people? Or do you have a very different experience than mine?

About Talia

Talia is an asexual, nonbinary, vegan-feminist that drinks a lot of coffee and stays up very late playing Blizzard video games and writing fiction. They are working on a PhD in Environmental Studies where they think a lot about oppression as intersectional and impacting identities differentially. Talia has a particular fondness for asexuality, fandom, and Critical Animal Studies. Their personal blog is
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8 Responses to Question of the Week: November 6th, 2018.

  1. Seth says:

    That depends on which subpopulation I’m comparing myself to. Compared to other AMAB people, no, I don’t think I’m less concerned about appearance; low concern is fairly standard. Compared to other trans people, I definitely am – passing is a big concern that I don’t share. Compared to the general population average, less concerned, since that includes AFAB people.

  2. I would say I am generally less concerned than most (allosexual) people about my appearance, especially in terms of fashion and style. Here’s something interesting, though. Before I figured out I was asexual, I identified as bisexual. When I first identified as bi, I suddenly became a lot more comfortable with my body, and in particular the shape of my body and the fact that I had a figure.

  3. Zoe says:

    I’ve been gifted by good genes so it’s never been something I’ve had to worry about, which is great because I hate mirrors.
    I don’t know if that’s to do with being ace or some phobia of vanity that was instilled in me early on or something do with my problem recognizing faces or what. Humans just look weird to me. When I catch sight of myself it takes me a second. I look perfectly fine but I don’t look like I think I should, not in a way I can put my finger on though. It’s eerie. So, I avoid mirrors and don’t care about my appearance too much.

    • Rivers says:

      There’s a lot of things it could possibly be, but I know that some people can have that feeling due to disassociation. I somewhat recognize what you described as something I had a couple years back. If you feel like it is affecting you in a negative way or just a way you don’t like, you might consider looking into it.

  4. I. C. says:

    As a non-binary person who experiences dysphoria, my relationship with my appearance is a bit fraught. I do like how I look, but it doesn’t cross my thoughts much—unless I’m thinking about trying to “pass” as nb. Then I get incredibly stressed about my secondary sex characteristics and how people will read me and it’s just generally not a good time. I’m also deeply wary of people reading me as sexually available, so I dress very conservatively, even though I think everyone should be able to dress as they please without assumptions being made about them.

    In fact, inverse from trying to attract anyone’s attention, I instead try to do much the opposite, since interaction based purely off appearance can be…quite intimidating when you don’t pass as anything in particular, making all social interaction at least a little awkward to begin with. I find myself much less withdrawn when I’ve decided to be closeted around new people, as contradictory as that might seem, because I don’t worry about them making incorrect assumptions, since I know they will anyway.

  5. Светлина Божилова says:

    I have gender dysphoria so I have issues with how others gender me and gendered parts of my body but when it comes to how I look regarding clothes, if my hair looks alright or not, if I look presentable, if the top and bottom halves of my outfit match, I couldn’t give less of a shit.

  6. Cracticus says:

    I’m generally ok with my appearance, but I’ll occasionally I’ll have moments where I think it’ll be nice if I looked a bit different. The only exception to this is with the chest dysphoria I started experiencing earlier this year. It confuses the hell out of me because I don’t think it looks ugly (sometimes I think it looks pretty), I it just looks and feels wrong, like it shouldn’t be there.

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