The U.Va. experience: Why am I always surrounded by attractive people?

Investing in your own look


Have you ever looked at the people around you and wondered when the University incorporated being attractive into application criteria? You ever worry that you accidentally got on the bus to the skinny model auditions instead of class? Does a pang of guilt fester in your mind as you go to the pizza station at Newcomb instead of the salad bar like “everybody else?"

Why are so many people here gorgeous?

I have several theories on why the University has such a beautiful student body. Maybe the University’s cultural emphasis on exercise, athletics and extroversion draws in healthy, hot students. Do higher socioeconomic status groups produce more attractive people through healthier diets or something? Maybe they spike the water at O-Hill with Accutane. 

The real plot-twister is whenever I ask my really attractive friends about this phenomenon, they say that they’re overwhelmed with all the attractive guys and girls around them. It’s actually absurd. Like, what hope do the rest of us have then? The University is this weird fantasy realm disproportionately filled with attractive, in-shape young humans.

I feel this most poignantly when I make my semi-annual journey to the gym. In three years, the scene hasn’t really changed — it’s me surrounded by red-meat eatin’ men in t-shirts with the sleeves cut off to provide proper ventilation to their huge arms. I’m one of those abnormalities at the gym who keeps his sleeves sewed onto his shirt, but it’s still easy to see that I have way less arm muscle and way more arm hair than the Greek gods of gains around me. To keep my mind occupied, I like to imagine that the people doing cardio upstairs at the AFC distract themselves by watching us gym rats downstairs.

“Wow he’s hot,” they think, looking at the guy who lifts his shirt to wipe off some sweat and/or show off his abs. Then they send supportive vibes to the girls who are strength training on the male-dominated first floor, and then they look at me and think “Wow, he looks like he’s really …  trying.”

In reality though, nobody cares about me at the gym, and that’s really comforting. Even outside the gym, it turns out nobody pays attention to me as much as I do, and I think that’s true for most people. This realization has freed my mind from a lot of self-analytical busy work.

Maybe wearing a Barbour jacket over a Southern Tide polo with some chinos and Timberlands is your style. But have you considered that it might, like, not be? I’ve tried getting with the brand names too, but first of all, I could never seem to buy the exact right product so everything I wore was just slightly off-putting — which fit my vibe surprisingly well — and also, I looked a lot like a bunch of other guys. When I wear the same thing, how am I supposed to distinguish myself? By being from Northern Virginia? Majoring in Econ? My Irish heritage?

I was just barely treading water in the University fashion scene, and then the greatest miracle of my life happened:

My long-distance vision was slowly and methodically murdered by staring at things close up, like screens and pages and the depths of my lover’s eyes.

So I got glasses. I got style. I got John Green — author of angsty tweenage novels like “The Fault in Our Stars” and “An Abundance of Katherines” — vibes.

Now my glasses are what I get the most compliments on. My theory — and you can disagree with this — is that while our school is full of attractive people, it’s largely the same flavor of handsome or beautiful. A little splash of unique spice — in my case some spectacles and an enthusiasm for the often-loathed craft of writing — goes a longer way than you’d expect.

Am I telling you to be yourself and you’ll naturally shine? No. Watch Netflix on maximum brightness in the dark until you contract short-sightedness and then get a good pair of glasses that complement your facial structure. Obviously.

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