A 54-year-old straight male listener named Joe called the weekly SiriusXM show I produce to comment on our discussion about the naked pregnant selfie that Kim Kardashian-West posted on social media this week as a way to silence extremely-vocal body-shamers.
"I don't know what the big fuss is -- she's 'average' at best," Joe boldly declared. He then gave Kim a 6 on his arbitrary hotness scale that presumably ranges from '1 to 10' and apparently leaves no room for personality points. When pressed by one of the show's hosts to rate himself, the middle-aged man sheepishly said he was a 10...when he was in his twenties. I immediately wished Joe had an Instagram account littered with selfies a la Kim K.
If anything, though, Joe's assessment of the reality star's body, which has consistently been the subject of both admiration and ridicule, highlights our society's thirst for judgment, most notably toward women and their figures. But as our guest, comedian Adam Sank, quickly noted on Thursday, gay men never hesitate to rate other men based solely on looks thanks to the influence of our incredibly superficial culture. Just look at the online reaction to actor Joaquin Ferreira's full-frontal debut in a new Spanish-language Netflix series Club de Cuervos as evidence.
It all made me wonder about the rating system that we as gay men almost inherently use when perusing certain dating apps on our phones. If we focused solely on external features -- which let's be honest, we all initially do -- we'd certainly find the beautifully-sculpted 9.5s, the 6s who become 7s by their third happy hour pic with friends, the 5s with potential that force you to read their actual profile to find at least one commonality, and the 1s to 4s whose face you can't even remember by your third swipe because eye contact with their photos was never an option.
For me, these numbers are false calculations of one's true worth. You know very well that some of those desirable gym bods boast their "masculine" identity and request that "you be same" regardless of your good heart. I have the empty inbox to prove it. The same way that cuteish guy who you thankfully spent an extra minute on totally understands your Golden Girls obsession and also likes margaritas on a Friday night: Hey, you free?
The trouble is ultimately finding someone whose thought process matches your own, and that's tough considering this exercise is entirely subjective. Even on my best day, I'm physically not a 10. My blemishes, gangly limbs, lean frame, and oftentimes uncontrollable thick ethnic hair (I'm Mexican after all) all keep the scale from fully tipping to one side. But my Southern charm, sense of humor, innate love of others, and sunny disposition balance me out. At least that's what a fellow 7.5 told me at a dimly-lit bar.
Now you can say that part of the problem is with my own self valuation. How can someone ever label me a 10 if I don't see myself as such first? To that I say: Let's lose the scale entirely because these unrealistic expectations are simply weighing us down.
Xorje Olivares is an on-air personality and a producer for SiriusXM Satellite Radio. His monthly OutQ show is titled "LGBT: Let's Get Busy Talking."