According to my stats page, someone has found one of my blog posts by googling the phrase “do you believe in aesthetic attraction”, which I can’t help but find hilarious because, first of all, it makes me think of that blasted song “Do You Believe in Magic”, and second of all, how can you not believe in aesthetic attraction? …Seriously? I mean, what I’m imagining here is–
Person 1: Wow, that guy over there sure is handsome.
Person 2: You don’t really think he’s handsome! Aesthetic attraction isn’t real! You’re lying to get attention!
I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that what the search phrase was getting at, and what people who dislike the term believe, is that nonsexual aesthetic attraction to fellow humans does not/might not exist, and that any aesthetic attraction to other people is automatically sexual attraction because they’re members of the same species.
Admittedly, I can understand how aesthetic attraction might sound like an asexual’s “get out of allosexuality free” card, but this concept is something I’d already seen acknowledged well before I started researching asexuality. In my (American) culture, it’s a pretty accepted thing for straight women to compliment each other’s appearances and say things like “You look pretty today!” It’s also a pretty widely acknowledged thing that gay men hold powerful positions in the fashion industry and are given some degree of credibility and authority in evaluating women’s appearances and deciding what looks good on them, despite the fact that they’re not sexually attracted to them.
There’s probably an analysis you could do on how these social norms fall along gendered lines, but this post won’t get into all that. The point is this: either you think everyone is bisexual, or you understand that people can find someone good-looking without finding them sexy — which is exactly why we need the phrase “aesthetically attractive”. And if you’re going to object to the concept of aesthetic attraction, you can’t do so on the basis that it’s just a prop to support asexuality, seeing as it’s a concept used implicitly by monosexual people as well — conveying their nonsexual attraction to people of a gender that they don’t find sexy, the same way that aces use it.