I truly thought that the only way to be beautiful, man or woman, was to be tall with blonde hair and blue eyes (sometimes green) but the most important part was to be white.

It’s largely why for the first half of my life I lived with such low self-esteem, knowing that I would never be any of those things but at the age of six, realizing that I was Asian and that was not akin to being white. So naturally, the first person I thought I “fell” in love with was exactly that. Her name was Emily and she was of average height with long flowing blonde hair. Her only flaw, in my eyes, were her dark brown colored eyes. When she rejected me, I took it hard for half a day because I was programmed to have that drama…but I got over it faster than I had gotten over any of my crushes. We remained friends. No hard feelings. When I look back on it, I think at that time of my life, what I wanted wasn’t her love but to be her. Because I thought she was so beautiful and I wanted to be beautiful.

Then when I came out, the next person I fell in love with was a boy named Brett. That year, the new thing was about these smart boys that played sports. They were still white of course, but they didn’t have to be blonde-haired or blue-eyed. Brett was ridiculously smart and played football and lacrosse. Unlike with Emily, I didn’t want to be Brett. I wanted him to love me like I had seen in all those awful teenage movies. His response to me, when I confessed, was that he “didn’t think that way.” And my love for him became an unrequited one. Then there was Devin who was tall, blonde and blue-eyed and athletic. Not the smartest but I could live with that.

Throughout my teenage years I would go back and forth between blondes and brunettes. They would all be clean-shaven and tall, skinny to athletic. They would become increasingly smarter and sophisticated, well beyond what I could understand.

Then I entered college and here’s what I understood of my tastes in men:

  • I liked white boys, that much was apparent
  • I didn’t really care for blondes, I preferred brunettes and the occasional ginger
  • I loved boys with green eyes, then brown, then blue coming in last
  • I liked them smart, at least as smart as myself
  • Guys with scruff made me go insane with lust
  • Guys with cute smiles melted my heart and made me nervous (in a good way)

Two years into college and having a better understanding of society, what design influences and how in every mind, a tiny seed from a designer/creative was planted to make them think a certain way…I took the initiative to fight the system.

I questioned my thoughts, my likes and tastes. I opened my gaze to not just the white boys. I tried finding interest in a mental connection versus a purely physical one. I tried to look beyond their shape.

Some of the guys I went on dates with were awful decisions and sometimes I felt like I was their awful decision. I went through a plethora of guys of varying degrees, thinking to myself:

I’m finally making an informed decision that is my own and not someone else’s.

And then it dawned on me, the past six months of guys I’ve dated compared to the guys I see on TV, in magazines, on online articles and even movies. I haven’t. This entire time my tastes in men has been cultivated by the media.

Ain’t that a kick in the head.