When I first encountered the idea of aesthetic orientation, my first reaction was ‘why bother’? But after a few moments, after it sunk in, it made sense.
I am panaesthetic. I like looking at beautiful people of all genders, and between beautiful women, handsome men, and gorgeous people who defy the gender binary, I do not have a preference (well, I do have preferences, just not based on gender).
The fact that I find certain people aesthetically pleasing is one of those things which made it just a little harder to realize that I am aro-ace. If I thought somebody was pretty, that MUST mean I am sexually/romantically attracted to them, and that what I felt towards such people is like what sexual-romantic people feel towards their crushes, right, RIGHT?
I want to look at pretty people. I do not want to have sex with them or get in a romantic relationship with them.
It’s not just something which confuses questioning people on an introspective level. It’s also something which certain people use to “prove” that we are not really aromantic/asexual – ‘AH HA HA HA! You think that person is pretty, you can’t really be aromantic/asexual!’
Our culture has wrapped lots of different things into sexuality. One of the things we ace-spectrum folk are doing is breaking it down, so that we can find out what we have in common (in my case, I do experience aesthetic attraction, like most people), and what does not apply to us.
I do not think aesthetic attraction is particularly important, but the concept does bring a little bit more clarity to my experiences.