On Getting Aesthetic Attraction

What I am about to say will sound pretty contradictory and inexplicable, but bear with me.

Before I knew I was ace, I probably had a 0.5-1% ability to tell if men were physically attractive. A little more than two years after first identifying as ace, this ability has risen to maybe 15%. Still not a particularly high-level ability, but it’s a hell of a lot higher than it was for a long, long time.

I think the reason I have become more aware is due to two reasons. The first is that after hanging out around AVEN for a bit, I started getting a better handle on the different forms of attraction that exist, including aesthetic attraction, a concept I’d never heard of before. A couple years back, a friend asked me, even though I couldn’t see a person as “hot”, could I see them as I could a beautiful painting or piece of artwork – as an entity whose appearance I could appreciate solely on an aesthetic level. I answered no at the time because my understanding (such as it was) was that people were physically attractive only in the sexual and/or romantic sense. Analyzing a person’s attractiveness like I would a pretty picture didn’t compute to me. It’s only been in the past year that I’ve realized my ability to do so has been growing, to the point that I’m not too surprised or weirded out if I happen to see a person that makes me go “Hmm. They look good!”

The second reason is that it made a lot more sense to me that I started seeing some people as attractive after learning I was ace than before when I had no idea what I was. Particularly during high school, I think I sort of instinctively shut down that corner of my brain, because seeing people as good-looking, but not through a sexual lens, would have boggled my brain at that time. Since I vehemently attached how other people gauged physical attractiveness with sexual appeal and I didn’t see people as sexually attractive, it was easier for me to say (and believe) I didn’t find anybody attractive in any sense of the word.

Now, I’m more comfortable letting myself admire a person’s (usually men’s) physical attractiveness because I’ve been able to do it as my friend described all those years ago – as I would a piece of artwork I visually resonate with. There’s nothing else behind it. I know that with pretty much everyone I see who resonates with me, so to speak (and that’s still only a few people, mind), there’s nothing else behind it but pure, aesthetic appreciation. Also, I think the fact that I’m now able to differentiate aesthetic attractiveness from sexual attractiveness means I feel less like a creep when I stare at a person or their picture for longer than is usually considered normal. I don’t expect anything out of them just because they happen to be easy on the eyes… I just want to look at them because they’re pretty.

Which, now that I’ve described it, still feels a little creepy, but whatever.

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Published in: on September 7, 2011 at 2:34 AM  Leave a Comment  

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