Why Melancholy People Can Be Attractive

There are many types of beauty and many ways of being sexy. But at certain periods of history some major possibilities get neglected. At the moment, we’re not paying anything like enough attention to one of the most important kinds of beauty and one of the central sources of sexual allure: melancholy.

Melancholy sexiness goes beneath today’s radar because we’re dominated by the idea that to attract the world, to give the world what it wants from us, we have to exude good cheer.

Melancholy itself is an underused word. It doesn’t mean grim and miserable. It means being in touch with the true difficulties of existence, which include the following: that the world is full of folly and greed, that it is rare to find inner peace, that it is hard to live comfortably with those we love; that it is very unusual to have a career that is both financially rewarding and morally uplifting; that many decent people have a very hard time. Melancholy is a sign of depth. It’s not a disorder that needs to be cured. 

Here is a picture gallery in honour of the theme – focusing on women. One on men will follow shortly.



Domenico Ghirlandaio, Portrait of a Young Woman, 1477

When people are melancholic, a smile or laugh carries so much more weight.



Hans Memling, Diptych of Maarten Nieuwenhove, 1487

We could be honest about our anxieties and fears.


Léa Seydoux, Venice Intl Film Festival, 2009

Léa Seydoux

She’s understood certain truths; she won’t be naive.



Eva Green

Neither cynical nor depressed: just melancholy.


Chanel: Front Row - Paris Fashion Week Haute-Couture F/W 2013-2014

Kristen Stewart

Fake smiles don’t come easily. It’s a sign one could trust any real ones that came along.



Natalie Merchant

We’d understand the anxious parts of her; and she the anxious parts of us.



Giovanni Bellini, Mary Magdalene, 1490

There is so much not to be shallow about.