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I know I’m not the only one who’s felt self-conscious in their relationship before. I would never call myself ugly, but I’m also well aware that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. I’m shorter than average, plus-sized, and I don’t fall into the white default/Eurocentric standards of beauty. I made it clear when I was dating around that I wasn’t going to be intimate with anybody. And I don’t mind that at all about myself, and neither does my partner.

So why does everyone else feel the need to comment on it?

When I first started dating my partner, I noticed instantly the difference in how people would treat me versus him. He’s white and I’m Asian, so there’s that too, which has its own struggles despite the fact that it’s 2021 and should not be something noteworthy. Girls flirt with him at stores or when he’s at work, while I get odd stares. I even remember one time when he dropped off some lunch for me at work, and my coworkers were shocked that he was handsome. No one seemed to see the problem with what that implied.

Of course, I think my partner is handsome, and he loves everything about me. But I also recognize that if I were more conventionally attractive, maybe people wouldn’t be so shocked to see us together, or openly flirt with him in public when I’m right next to him.

This speaks to a deeper stigma within our society that ‘leagues’ even exist. This can be seen often on social media, where one part of a couple might be seen as more attractive than the other. There’s a difference between a more attractive man versus a more attractive woman (in straight couples), or when one person weighs more than the other.

Women who are seen with less conventionally attractive men are labeled as ‘gold diggers,’ because heaven forbid they actually love their partner and find them attractive. No, they are assumed to be with them for their money or to be provided for.

Men who are with less conventionally attractive women are either hailed as ‘good’ men because he seemingly ‘doesn’t care about her appearance,’ which has never sat right with me. What if he actually loves her appearance AND her personality? Would a woman’s appearance be so off-putting that no one thinks anyone would be attracted to her? Or that his partner will get bombarded with comments about how he’s going to leave her for someone more attractive, or that she doesn’t deserve him?

I’m not sure how this play out with same-sex couples, but I’m sure similar principles apply. People who are in relationships with either older or less conventionally attractive people are still labeled as ‘gold diggers’. Moreover, people in such relationships might be labeled ‘fetishists’ who see their partner as nothing more than a sex object.

I want anyone who feels like they are not in the same ‘league’ as their partner to try and eliminate such a harmful mentality. Your partner is with you for the same reasons you are with them: love. Do not let anyone else try to undermine what you have. Leagues don’t exist, and people can love who they love without having to justify or prove anything to anyone else. Respect other people’s boundaries and don’t try to unpack their relationships due to your preconceived notions of what it is supposed to look like.

Sarah Taphom

Oglethorpe '22

Communications Major | Women's and Gender Studies Minor HC @ Oglethorpe Marketing and Recruitment Director | Twitter Admin angry feminist killjoy | soft writer girl
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