June 19, 2013 at 2:52 PM ET
When you see a loving couple where one person is much more stereotypically attractive than the other, do you think “It’s great that those two people have found each other” or do you think “Wow, he could do better than her?” If it’s the former, then congratulations, you are a decent human being. If it’s the latter, then the bad news is that you’re an asshole. The good news is that asshole doesn’t have to be a permanent state—because Gloria Shuri Nava is here to help.
Gloria is a fat woman in a relationship with a thin man. She started The Beauty Adjustment Collaboration as a way to encourage people who are in relationships of mixed stereotypical beauty to talk about their experiences. It’s a powerful video and if you were in the “he could do better” camp before then take heart. If there is any shred of human decency in you, once you finish watching this video you’ll be thinking “God, I was an asshole and I’m going to stop.” But how do you make that change?
You can start by taking the advice of people from the video. For example, you can be attracted to whomever you want and that’s fine. Things go wrong when you start to think that everyone should have the same attractions that you do. When you are in disbelief that someone finds someone else attractive, go ahead and turn that frown upside down by adding some respect to the situation—respect other people’s choices like you want yours respected. While you’re at it, don’t assume that someone is “overlooking” their partner’s looks, it’s not personality or looks—it’s often both.
You can consider that the ability to perceive beauty is a skill. Various cultures, and the same cultures at various times, had wildly different ideas of what is beautiful. The idea of beauty is not genetic. If you can’t find someone else beautiful—maybe it’s time you do some homework to sharpen that skill. Spend the next few weeks, or few months, finding something beautiful about every person you see. Watch the red carpet with the sound turned down and find only nice things to say about the dresses and the stars.
If all else fails, there’s my mother’s tried and true advice—just shut up. When confronted with a couple that doesn’t make sense from your worldview, remember that there’s absolutely no need for you to comment in any way. Don’t like the way they look? Take some advice from that band Chicago and “look away, baby, look away.”
If you are in such a couple of mixed attractiveness, then let me congratulate you for finding love and offer my condolences that there are assholes in the world. I hope that you can avoid them and, if not, that you’ll never let their petty animus get in the way of your awesome relationship.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.