Young People Ask . . .
How Can I Make Myself More Attractive?
“It was not easy or comfortable to keep up a conversation with girls. I had no idea of what they were thinking, how they felt, or how they looked at things.”—Tyler.
WHAT qualities do girls like best in boys? “Confidence,” says a teenager named Emily. Robyn, another teen, puts being funny at the top of her list. And what do boys most value in girls? Not surprisingly, one survey showed that good looks topped their list. Similar interests and values were listed sixth.
Articles and surveys that discuss boy/girl relationships are popular fare in youth-oriented magazines. Clearly, many young people think a lot about—or perhaps even worry about—how the opposite sex views them. Maybe you even worry about that yourself sometimes. Not that you’re ready to get married anytime soon. It’s just that no one wants to be unattractive or undesirable! Tyler observes: “When you’re a teenager, you want to be attractive to everyone. You want to be acceptable to your peers, male and female.” Also, you may feel that someday you want to find a good marriage mate. When that time comes, naturally you will want to be able to attract such a person.
However, as a Christian youth, you may not have had a lot of experience in dealing with the opposite sex. Add to that the pressure you may feel from your peers to be physically attractive. With the parade of supermodels and muscle-bound actors you see on TV and in magazines, it’s no wonder that you may feel insecure and inadequate! What, then, does it take to be appealing to others—including those of the opposite sex—in a healthy, positive way?
The Folly of Hoping for the “Perfect” Body
Clinical psychologist William S. Pollack observes that under the influence of the entertainment industry, many young people “are spending countless hours dieting, pumping iron, and doing aerobic exercise, all in an effort to transform the size and shape of their bodies.” Some are even going to dangerous extremes, such as virtually starving themselves, in order to achieve that “perfect” body. Yet, says the Social Issues Research Centre: “The current media ideal for women is achievable by less than 5% of the female population—and that’s just in terms of weight and size. If you want the ideal shape, face etc., it’s probably more like 1%.”
The Bible’s advice at Romans 12:2 is thus practical: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould.” (Phillips) This doesn’t mean, though, that you should be oblivious to how you look. It only makes sense to take care of your body through moderate exercise and a balanced diet. (Romans 12:1; 1 Timothy 4:8) Proper rest and sleep can also help you to look and feel your best. At the same time, give attention to your hygiene and personal grooming. A British youth named David observes: “There is a girl who is quite attractive, but she has an odor problem. People avoid her because of this.” So bathe often. Clean hands, hair, and fingernails can enhance your appearance.
Although the Bible discourages putting too much emphasis on what you wear, it does advise Christians “to adorn themselves in well-arranged dress, with modesty and soundness of mind.” (1 Timothy 2:9) Wear clothes that enhance your looks but that are not outrageous or immodest. * Reasonable attention to your appearance can boost your self-confidence. A youth named Paul puts it this way: “You might not have the greatest looks, but you can work with what you’ve got.”
While a pleasant face and physique may attract attention, in the long run “beauty is a bubble.” (Proverbs 31:30, Byington) Good looks tend to be short-lived, and they are certainly no substitute for attractive personal qualities. (Proverbs 11:22) Remember, too, that “mere man sees what appears to the eyes; but as for Jehovah, he sees what the heart is.” (1 Samuel 16:7) So instead of focusing all your attention on your waistline or your biceps, work on adorning yourself with “the secret person of the heart in the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God.” (1 Peter 3:3, 4; Ephesians 4:24) True, in today’s world many youths may have little regard for admirable personality traits—much less for spiritual qualities. * But those who have godly values do appreciate them and find them attractive!
The best way, then, to be attractive to spiritually-minded Christian men and women is to be spiritually-minded yourself. Cultivate your spirituality through prayer, personal study of the Bible, and attendance at Christian meetings. (Psalm 1:1-3) Nevertheless, there are other useful skills and traits you can develop. You do not need to date or be in a romantic relationship to cultivate these traits. Rather, you can practice them in your everyday dealings with others.
For example, are you awkward and shy around the opposite sex? A youth named Paul admits: “Sometimes I feel uncomfortable—because they’re girls, and I don’t understand girls as much as I do guys. And I don’t want to embarrass myself.” How can you develop the confidence and poise that will put others at ease? One way is to take advantage of the wide variety of association available in the Christian congregation. At meetings take a personal interest in others—not just members of the opposite sex of your own age but also children, adults, and elderly ones. (Philippians 2:4) Learning to deal well with such a variety of people will help you to develop self-confidence.
Be careful, though. Jesus did say: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 19:19) If you have positive feelings about yourself, you will be less likely to be clumsy and awkward around others. * However, while it is necessary to have some measure of self-respect, don’t go to an extreme. “I tell everyone there among you,” said the apostle Paul, “not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think.”—Romans 12:3.
Take a hard look, too, at your manners and social skills. A British girl named Lydia observes: “There is a boy in my school who is quite popular with a lot of girls. But after they get to know him, they don’t like him because he is rude and tactless.” People are attracted to someone who uses kind, tactful speech and who shows consideration for others. (Ephesians 4:29, 32; 5:3, 4) “A welcoming set of manners is like a passport, allowing freedom and access to people,” observes Dr. T. Berry Brazelton. Manners “are essential to gaining the acceptance of others.”
Customs and rules of etiquette vary around the world. So you may want to observe how mature Christian men and women treat one another. For example, is it customary in your country for a man to hold a door open for a woman? Then learning to extend this courtesy will enhance your reputation as a poised, mannerly person.
Finally, you may find it helpful to cultivate a balanced sense of humor. The Bible says that there is “a time to laugh,” and a person who has a sense of humor often makes friends easily.—Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4.
Friendly Versus Flirtatious
One self-proclaimed “guide to dating success” advised that the secret to attracting the opposite sex is to flirt. Readers were told to practice smiling and making eye contact and to perfect ‘opening lines.’ Such advice goes contrary to the spirit of Paul’s counsel to Timothy to treat members of the opposite sex “with all chasteness.”—1 Timothy 5:2.
Although flirting may build one’s own ego, it is insincere and dishonest. You don’t have to flirt or be coy to carry on an interesting conversation. Nor do you have to ask embarrassing or inappropriate questions to learn how the opposite sex feels and thinks. Stick to talking about things that are ‘righteous, chaste, and lovable,’ and you will show that you are well on the way to developing into a mature, spiritually-minded man or woman. (Philippians 4:8) Your obedience to godly principles will make you attractive not only to the opposite sex but to God himself. *—Proverbs 1:7-9.
^ par. 10 See “Young People Ask . . . What’s the Secret of Choosing the Right Clothes?” appearing in our October 8, 1989, issue.
^ par. 12 According to one researcher, studies indicate that intelligent youths are often teased for their abilities. Some youths react by downplaying their intelligence.
^ par. 15 Chapter 12 of the book Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses, has a number of practical suggestions on building self-respect.
^ par. 21 If you are too young to get married, it is wise to enjoy the company of the opposite sex in mixed groups. See the article “Young People Ask . . . What if My Parents Think I’m Too Young to Date?” appearing in the January 22, 2001, issue of Awake!
[Pictures on page 15]
Instead of focusing on your looks, work on developing spiritual qualities
[Picture on page 15]
Learn to be comfortable with a wide variety of people