Everyone wants to be more attractive. It’s easy to get discouraged when the person in the mirror doesn’t compare to carefully curated instagram pages or that one popular person gets all the dates and party invitations and you can’t seem to get any. With constant, shallow empowerment messages splashed across every medium, it’s easy to blame society when life doesn’t live up to your standards or to hate the people who have it figured out. Unfortunately, that tends to make the problem worse. Fortunately, you, too, can hack the system and make yourself more attractive! It may not always be easy, but hey, neither is life.
Often the line between attractive and very much not lies in the number of days since someone last showered. It’s not rocket science. A well-kempt person not only gives off the impression that they don’t smell funky and don’t carry diseases, but also that a sense of tidiness and attention to detail translates into other areas of their life as well.
The environment isn’t always kind to our bodies, and everyone has a different natural propensity toward unattractive habits and unfavorable genetics. You know where your struggles lie. Which also means you have the ability to look for solutions! Even if you’re not beset by skin ailments or chronic bad breath, it’s always a good idea to keep a basic skincare routine and bathe regularly. Brush your teeth, keep your nails neat, and take care of your hair. Exercise regularly and mind what you eat.
This isn’t to say there’s one standard of hotness we all need to strive toward—though in society’s eye there definitely is—it is, rather, to say that keeping yourself healthy and taken care of will not only improve your appearance but will improve your overall quality of life. And other people will notice.
Dressing well does not mean dressing expensively. Whether your clothes are from thrift shops or high end boutiques, the important thing is that they’re you. All styles are not created equal. Certain cuts of clothing, no matter what your body shape may be, are just not going to look good. Find what fits you. Find the styles that consistently flatter your body shape, and buy sizes that fit well without hugging too tight or hanging too loose. Jeans that fit you are inevitably going to look better than squeezing into the size you want to be. No one can see the tag once they’re on you.
Similarly, find a hairstyle that flatters your face shape, then put in the time to make it look the way you want it to. Same goes for facial hair. If you’re the makeup wearing type, experiment until you find styles that make you happy, then learn to do those well. If, like me, you have no idea what looks good, chances are you have a friend or family member who has a knack for this kind of stuff. If not, ask a store employee or stylist. Many (not all, granted) are happy to help.
Whether your wardrobe is massive or consists of four outfits, make sure you’re able to dress to the occasion. Don’t wear tie-dye and jeans to a wedding. When in doubt, dress up rather than down. And try to keep your clothes looking nice. Mend holes, scrub out stains, or artfully layer if you can’t successfully do either of those things.
Attractiveness isn’t just physical. Confidence is arguably the biggest factor in determining attractiveness, both romantically and platonically. If you don’t like yourself, why should anyone else like you? Some people make sadness and low self-esteem work for them, but as a general rule, people are attracted to competence, confidence, and people who aren’t going to always lower morale.
If you’re not a naturally confident person, fake it till you make it. Learn basic social graces. Memorize social cues and expectations until you’re comfortable. But honestly, true confidence is worth working on. You have talents and skills and interesting things to say. Find them. Own them. Convince yourself to truly believe that you have worth.
Etiquette is about more than just which fork to use at a dinner party. Like it or not, a set of written and unwritten rules governs society, and not following these rules can be anything from a faux pas to a felony, all of which make you significantly less attractive. The too-cool-for-school persona only works if you are, in fact, unwaveringly cool. And even then it loses its appeal quickly in any kind of long term relationship.
So learn the rules of etiquette. Look them up. Memorize them. Remember how people act when you unwittingly break one and then don’t do it again. People tend to be forgiving if you don’t know any better. People are less forgiving when you should know better and act like a moron anyway.
Say please and thank you. Don’t be rude, don’t be mean, don’t gossip about mutual friends and put people in a weird position. Watch your language and know your audience. Respect other people’s time, property, and personal space. Leave a place better than you found it. Bring host and hostess gifts, send congratulations, look people in the eye when you speak to them. Practice basic table manners and tip well. Pay attention to people. Remember their names, listen to what they’re saying, engage in conversations, and, for the sake of all that’s good in this world, don’t check your phone while someone else is talking.
These rules don’t come easily to anyone. In fact, a lot of them are quite difficult to practice regularly. That’s not an excuse to not do it. Force yourself, if you have to, and remember that the more you do something, the easier it gets. Most rules of etiquette and good manners simply revolve around having a basic respect for other human beings, which is one of the most attractive traits you’ll ever have. If you’ve got that, the rest will come naturally.
Roald Dahl once said, “A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” Being genuinely kind will, as Roald Dahl states, affect your overall appearance. Kindness and generosity and joy make you more likable and ultimately more attractive. This is not nice-guys-never-win kindness, not kindness with expected reciprocity, but a genuine goodwill toward other living things. You will definitely not always feel this, but you can always act on it.
Being attractive isn’t about having perfect features or a sculpted body—though no one can deny that those things help—it’s about being the best version of you that you can be. So the next time you’re tempted to blame your social or romantic failings on nature’s inequality or skewed social constructs, try working on yourself instead. Life is inevitably unfair. What are you going to do about it?