There are a million reasons why you might be feeling ugly today.
Maybe you recently got cheated on.
Maybe you’re scrolling through Instagram and can’t help comparing yourself to that airbrushed model or friend who always looks good.
Maybe a new spot on your chin is giving you a low self-esteem day.
Or, maybe, you just feel ugly and always have.
Girl, I know exactly how you feel. I was a teenage girl with albinism, nystagmus and a severe case of acne. Not to mention the Harry Potter glasses! Yeah, I got bullied mercilessly throughout high-school to the point where I couldn’t look in the mirror without wanting to scrape my skin off with a scalpel. It was a rough start.
That is, until I hit sixteen.
In stereotypical teen rom-com fashion, I decided it was time for a makeover. I started straightening my hair, wearing makeup and squeezing myself into shorts that were a size too small. My acne cleared up (hurray!) and I eventually grew a pair of boobs.
The results were instantaneous; boys who used to bully me at school were now sliding into my DM’s. Guys at the bus stop would ask me for my number. At college, boys would call me ‘the fit one’ out of all of my friends. I was living every ugly duckling’s wet dream.
And yet, I still felt like the shy, spotty 13-year-old girl who would get tormented every single day for her physical unpleasantness. In fact, I still feel like that girl. Every single day.
Why Do We Still Feel Ugly Even With External Validation?
In my post about negative thoughts and depression, I talk a lot about core beliefs. Core beliefs are the things that we believe to be the absolute truth about the world, existing underneath our ‘surface-level’ beliefs and having a profound impact on every aspect of our lives.
When we are first introduced to a negative self-perception, it is very easy to subconsciously ruminate it. Every time we look in the mirror and think “ugh, my nose is so big and ugly”, we are repeating a negative affirmation that if ruminated enough times has the potential to turn into a negative core belief.
And unfortunately, negative core beliefs can be particularly hard to shift.
However, the good thing about core beliefs is that they are not a true reflection of reality. We see the world through our own unique filter and, particularly if you suffer from poor mental health, this filter is often bias, pessimistic and overly self-critical.
The truth is, our perceived self-attractiveness is heavily influenced by our own core values and beliefs. It has a lot to do with what we believe about ourselves, rather than what we think others believe of us.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how many of your friends’ comment ‘slaaaaay’ on your Insta pictures – you still feel like the ugliest person to ever walk the earth. And that, my love, is the sound of your insecure core beliefs spewing shit into your ear.
And if you’re thinking, “yeah but the only the reason I believe I’m ugly is because other people have literally told me I’m ugly” well – read on:
1- Definitions of beauty change with time and across cultures
Just like trends in style, what society finds conventionally attractive changes over time and can vary significantly across cultures. For example, the 1950’s celebrated curvy pin-up women with bouffant blonde curls, while the 1960’s saw a boyish frame and androgynous, hippie style as the feminine ideal. And surely you’ve seen the crazy hair that was all the rage in 80’s!
Popular culture usually dictates universal beauty standards, but it is flexible and growing more inclusive each year. Try not to put too much value into something that is so fluctuating.
2 – Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder
We’ve all heard this age-old saying, so much so that it has become a cliché. However, there is some unquestionable truth to this ‘cop-out’ statement.
While some aspects of beauty are ‘universally-recognised’ to be physically attractive (like facial symmetry or straight white teeth), what we find attractive as individuals is governed by a lot more than our societal influences.
We’ve all been there when a friend gushes about a really hot guy she’s met, only for her to show you a picture of what you feel is a painfully average bloke with designer stubble. We all have one friend who goes crazy for ruggedness while the other goes dreamy-eyed over guys with floppy blonde hair. That’s because everyone has a different beauty aesthetic that appeals to them, and this preference is crafted from biological, evolutionary, cultural, societal and environmental influences!
Learn to accept that you’re not going to fit everyone’s beauty aesthetic, just as most of the human population doesn’t fit yours. For a psychological approach to this subject, read this Psychology Today article on why we want who we want.
3 – Beauty is only skin deep
“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”Roald Dahl
As we grow older, we tend to stop caring so much about adhering to conventional standards of beauty – and that’s because we learn that qualities like virtue, integrity and compassion are much more important.
What’s even better is that physical attraction is easily influenced by personality. I’m sure most of us are no stranger to the phenomenon of finding someone more attractive as you get to know them. This is because being physically attractive may be great for first impressions, but it can only get you so far.
While it may not seem so in the shallow age of Tinder, a YouGov study found that the preference for personality over looks is internationally uniform. Here in Britain, 91% of women and 80% of men ranked personality as more important than good looks.
So, rather than trying to achieve physical perfection, work on your ability to tell a good joke instead.
4 – Experimenting with a different style might be just what you need
Ever seen someone rock a new hairstyle that seems to completely change their face?
So many simple, easily-changeable things have the ability to totally transform your aesthetic: hairstyle, hair-colour, make-up and tattoos are just a few.
Different hairstyles suit different shaped faces, different colours suit different skin-tones and some lucky buggers are able to flawlessly pull off red lipstick (while some of us fail miserably and have a lot of photos to prove it). Experiment with different looks and accentuate your natural beauty!
Also, finding a style that you like and feel comfortable in will make you feel more confident – and remember, confidence is the most attractive thing of all!
5 – Comparing yourself to other people is always going to leave you feeling ugly (unless, maybe, you’re Beyonce)
Constantly comparing your physical attractiveness to others is indicative of deep-seated insecurities and exposes a habit of viewing self-worth through the lens of external validation. As you can imagine, this behaviour is mentally-damaging and rarely ever initiates any kind of change.
Try to avoid mindless scrolling or placing too much value on physical attractiveness in your day-to-day life. Instead, work on your insecurities by using positive affirmations or journaling for mental health and self-discovery. Practise being grateful for your good qualities and celebrate your beauty in its own right!
6 – Making better lifestyle choices is a great way to boost your confidence and attractiveness!
The great thing about our bodies is that by adopting healthier lifestyle choices, we can mould it to our individual beauty standards. Eating a nutritious, balanced diet, doing regular exercise and practising self-care activities are healthy, positive ways to naturally boost our physical attractiveness.
Remember, your mental health is intricately linked to your physical health. Staying physically healthy will boost your confidence, in turn increasing your base levels of happiness and ultimately making you fucking irresistible.
Yes, that’s exactly how it works.
7 – Learn to accept the things that you can’t change
I wasted so much of my teenage years feeling ugly to the point of severe depression. Growing up with a disability, I used to ruminate obsessively about how ugly and unattractive I was, how much I wanted to just look ‘normal’. On my bad days, my brain still tries it!
However, on my self-love journey I’ve learnt something invaluably, ground-breakingly important – that true happiness, confidence and self-acceptance comes when you wholeheartedly accept your flaws.
Basically, I learnt how to stop giving
as much of a fuck about things I can’t change. #1 on the list was other people’s opinions. #2 was my face.
Read more about how to stop giving a fuck about what people of you and learn to love yourself unapologetically.
8 – Remember that when you’re 90, you’ll kick yourself for wasting your youth worrying about something as fleeting as physical attractiveness
We all know it’s so, so true. The hardest part is remembering it.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed my post on things to remember if you’re feeling ugly. If your low body-confidence is troubling you to the point of depression, please don’t hesitate to get help. I’ve been there and it wasn’t nice! If you have anything you would like to add, please leave a comment down below 😊