When I was in junior high, I was picked on a lot by both the guys and girls for never having the nicest clothes, having thick, dry hair that always seemed to have buildup in it, thick eyebrows. My parents refused to let me shave my legs like the other girls were doing (I wore skirts in Catholic school), and I wasn't allowed to wear makeup. I was called "ugly" by my peers.
In 8th grade I just rebelled. Shaved my legs without permission, tweezed my eyebrows, started wearing makeup, and highlighted my hair. First day of 8th grade the cutest boy in my class walked by me and said, "Damn, JLK. You look GOOD." I was hooked. The boys started paying attention to me, the "cool kids" accepted me into their circle.
All throughout high school I made a point of having cute shoes to go with my uniform, doing cute stuff to my hair, wearing makeup, and shaving my legs daily. I didn't really believe that I was attractive, though I was told as much pretty often. I still needed the validation. My family had always told me I was beautiful, but that's family. They have to say that, so I never believed it.
Now I am a week away from my 26th birthday. I have a headful of gray hairs that I'm reluctant to dye because they are symbols of where I am in life in relation to the 18yr olds I sit in class with every week. I know that to many of you here in the blogosphere, you consider me to still be a kid and I respect that. But when I go to MRU, I find myself in class with people who were in middle school when 9/11 happened. I was in college at the time. It feels like a lifetime of difference between me and them.
What going to college as a nontraditional student made me realize was how stupid women are when they are teens and college students. I see girls who spend hours upon hours in tanning beds, plastering themselves with makeup, sporting skintight clothes with no jackets even when it's freezing outside, all in hopes of attracting some male attention. No longer in that mentality, I look at them and find this stuff pathetic.
I learned awhile back how to play up my best features with minimal effort. I have wide hips, but I also have super-long legs. I have no breasts to speak of (literally, no exaggeration), but a pretty nice waistline. I wear minimal makeup, often throw my hair into a messy ponytail, gray hairs perfectly visible. Sometimes I go to class in sweats and a hoodie (usually on exam day) because I know I blend in that way. But on days when I am coming from work and I am dressed up, or I feel like dressing nicely I put in a little effort. I'll sport my juniors low-rise, flare jeans that make my legs look like they go on forever, a pair of black boots with slightly pointed toes and 4 inch heels because I LOVE feeling taller, a plain t-shirt under a corduroy or twill waist-length blazer, and a multicolored scarf around my neck. Same amount of makeup, hair still in a messy ponytail. No cleavage, no thong sticking out, not a damn thing slutty about how I look. But I get stares from the male passersby - students, grad students, and professors alike. Because when I feel like I look good, I walk, act, and talk like I look good. That's hotness, and I do it for me, not them.
There are things that I've started to notice about getting older - some bad, some good. I've started to notice cellulite which absolutely drives me bonkers. But everyone has it and I know that. I'm not out buying creams and all that other shit they try to tell us will reduce its appearance. There's only one context in which the fat on my ass and thighs becomes noticeable, and if I'm in that context, my male companion is going to be too occupied to notice. So I don't stress about it.
The best thing I've noticed is that my skin has finally started to clear up. Granted, it's at the price of dryness, but that's easy enough to combat with some moisturizer. I spent years lamenting the fact that all of my friends had clear skin and I would get blemishes no matter what I did. If I have clear skin at the price of dryness, gray hair, and cellulite, I'll take it. No complaints.
Hot shoes make me feel sexy, and I will wear them for as long as I can. I wear clothes that make me feel good when I look in the mirror, I put concealer under my eyes with a little mascara, and I feel beautiful when I see my reflection. I do it when I'm home by myself.
I think the difference is in trying to look good in order to get validation from others versus looking good for yourself. It doesn't matter what you wear as long as you feel good wearing it. Hotness comes when a woman puts on clothes she loves and finds comfortable and sports them with pride, as opposed to the woman who puts on what she considers to be frumpy shit and laments in the mirror about how she feels she can't wear anything else. That's not hot.
It might sound like complete bullshit to say that hotness is a state of mind, but I really believe that. How you feel about yourself is what determines how other people see you.
So go ahead and be hot, and make no apologies.