Chalk it up to my daddy issues, but my formative years have been highly defined by my relationships with men.
My platonic relationships are pretty static. With few exceptions, I never fight with my friends and we find ourselves hanging out at the same places, laughing at the same jokes in the same weird accents we use with each other. (Other people do that too, right?)
Romantically, though, I’ve had so many different experiences with drastically different types of men that, at this point, I don’t know which way is up. With every relationship, what I thought I knew about people and the world has been progressively worn down to nothing.
Everyone is different, which is why dating advice is BS. There have been a few gentleman, however, who have (unknowingly) taught me some valuable beauty lessons. Thus, I compiled a profile of men I’ve been involved with to varying degrees--ranging from booty call, all the way to Facebook-official--and what they’ve taught me about looking pretty.
First up is my high school boyfriend Noel, the Mormon boy scout to whom I lost my v-card. Sometimes we’d jump on his trampoline and argue over the existence of God, and he eventually left the church, to which his parents reacted by completely losing it (I don't think they appreciated my influence very much).
Anyway, he almost always wore a knitted poncho and Vans, and genuinely never cared about how he looked, except for this weird preference towards wearing colored contacts. One day, he picked me up without wearing them and when I looked at him I knew something was different, but I wasn’t sure what. It took me over an hour before I realized his eyes were a drastically different color (though his natural color was beautiful also).
Beauty lesson: It’s OK to fake it. And also, that thing that you feel you’re unrecognizable without--be it extensions, a tan, lashes, or foundation--isn’t as crucial as you probably think. You still look like you without it.
Next is Caleb, a professional surfer that I met my first quarter in college when I was still 17 and he was 22. He’d sneak me into bars and taught me to smoke out of a bong, and when I’d upset him he’d complain that I was “throwing off his chi.” I’ve since realized that, between his family’s mansion in Malibu, Prius, and overuse of beach slang, the kid was a walking stereotype--but alas, I was young.
He couldn’t be bothered with things like fashion and grooming because “the waves were his religion” and nothing else mattered; except of course, when it came to his long, blonde hair. One morning, after drunkenly falling asleep with his hair wet, he proceeded to throw a fit and skip class because there were kinks in his hair, and that’s “like, not chill, man.”
Beauty lesson: Don’t go to sleep with wet hair. You might wake up with bed-head and accidentally reveal that you’re a tool.
After Caleb, I met Ryan, a frat-boy from a school across town, who, by marriage, was the nephew of a very famous rapper. He didn’t need money, yet he insisted on selling drugs, and kept thousands of dollars under the floorboards in his room. (Come to think of it, perhaps that was his attempt at some rap-inspired performance of masculinity).
Maybe the best-looking guy I’ve dated (he had turquoise colored eyes), I thought he was perfect, until after six months of dating and never having seen his feet, I knew something was up.
When I mentioned it to him he replied, “And you never will. I hate my feet. Why you think I’m always wearing fancy kicks?” Fair enough.
Beauty lesson: Dress for your body. If there’s something you’re insecure about, turn that negative into a positive by concealing it with something “fancy.”
Fast forward a couple dudes, to my junior year when--through a mutual friend with whom he’d drunkenly had sex--I met Alejandro. An athlete at our school, raised in a rough neighborhood as the youngest of 12 kids, he was the manliest, most stoic dude I’d ever met. Think Don Draper, if Don Draper were Mexican and also kinder.
He always paid for everything and never talked about his emotions--not to me at least. Sometimes, when he was drunk he’d tell me he loved me, but that’s as deep as it ever got.
Almost as strong as his ability to keep things to himself though, was his commitment to moisturizing--he always reeked of baby lotion. A person who I think would sooner walk on hot coals than ask someone for anything, he once, at three in the morning, asked me for some lotion.
Beauty lesson: Have a skincare routine and stick to it. Especially when it comes to moisturizing.
Last but not least, is beautiful Daniel. The son of some big-shot psychiatrist, he was raised all over the world and went to high school in Berkeley, which I think collectively served to inform a comfort with and appreciation for people of color really that, in my experience, is uncharacteristic of white dudes.
Having experienced so many cultures that he preferred over his own whiteness, he pretty openly admitted that he would be black if he could. Just in time for New Year’s, he visited a black barbershop and traded in his wavy, grown-out cut for a lineup (Google it if you must); which made him the second white guy I know with that hairstyle, the other being Eminem. At the time, I thought it was adorable.
Beauty lesson: If you want something special done, go to the pros. You wouldn't order a cheeseburger at a Mexican restaurant, now would you? Same goes for matters of beauty and grooming.
Of course there have been others, but these are the five guys that today stand out the most to me. What beauty lessons have you learned from a gentleman friend? Do any of these characters sound familiar?
Names have been changed to allow their current girlfriends to learn these beauty lessons at their own pace.