Fighting Ugly

Let me start with what this is NOT: This is not a fishing expedition. I don’t want compliments, mostly because compliments make it worse. I have never taken compliments well. Here’s what it is, it’s a recognition that you might have dealt with something like this, and what I’ve discovered might help.

Me and my mini-Mi(a)

I grew up thinking I was ugly. No, let me rephrase, I grew up KNOWING I was unattractive. I know now that I was never ugly, and the way I know that is that Mia, my beautiful, long-haired, gap-toothed, pidgeon-toed daughter, is my mini-me. There’s no question that she looks just like me, and she is gorgeous, so I must never have been homely. But, to my mind, ugly coated me head-to-foot like green slime.

It wasn’t just a fancy of my imagination. I heard it from someone very close to me. He made fun of my over-pointed nose, called me “Banana Beak” and said I should have to wear a bag over my head. That reinforced my media-fueled perceptions that I didn’t measure up. My first kiss was from a boy who was dared to kiss the “ugliest girl in class.” At least, that’s what he and his friends told me. More ugly green slime.

By the time someone else started telling me I was pretty, I had grown accustomed to denying or explaining away beauty. Compliments like “You look pretty today” received the “Oh, I got a new dress” or “You should see my sister, she got her hair cut…” I couldn’t thank them, because I assumed they bestowed those compliments out of duty or obligation, or, worst of all…. malice.

I thought they were joking with me, sarcastically commending me on something I most obviously DID NOT possess.

Every morning, I fight ugly in the mirror. I fight the image I’d created for myself because I listened to other people to find my physical worth.

Time didn’t help, lines appear on my face, around the eyes and mouth; I find infernal gray hairs every few days. Having children did not help, gaining and losing so much weight so quickly has left my stomach looking like a road map or bowl of oatmeal, depending on which way I stand (and now I’ve just guaranteed I will never attract a man through my blog – lol).

I do battle with ugly. My best weapon? Remembering that God put me together and formed my features. Bright olive-green eyes. Nice cheekbones. Graceful neck. He even threw in a beauty mark! (I always thought that ironic, before).

So, God created man in his own image. In the image of God he created them, male and female. – Genesis 1:27


My creator is beautiful. I am a reflection of his image. My daughter is a reflection of that same image and a reflection of me. I am not ugly. I am beautiful. That reminder will be posted on my mirror.

Today, I’m posting a picture of me. No make-up, no hair fixing (not even a shower yet!) because I’m happy to say this is the image of my maker.

God thinks this is beautiful

Have you ever struggled with false perceptions of your beauty? What is your best feature?


42 responses to “Fighting Ugly

  1. My issue growing up was always with facial hair. I never managed to get “good” facial hair when in my teens. I always thought this made me “not a real man”. Someone even once told me that eating bacon makes hair grow in your chinny chin chin. I ate so much bacon that summer, it wasn’t even funny.

    Now that I’m an adult, I hate to shave every 2 days. It’s annoying!

  2. This is a great post. It’s something I’ve struggled with my whole life as well. I always looked like I belonged on the cast of Twilight (but before that was cool). Pale, short, hair too thick (yes, there is such a thing as too thick, although people with thin hair don’t believe it). I remember some adults comparing my hair to a horse’s mane one time, and not in a good way. And to top it off, my sister is thin with long blond hair and looks great without even trying.

    It took me a long time to learn to love myself the way God created me, and I do now, but there are still days that I “fight ugly in the mirror”.

    • I am right there with you on the thick hair. I would have it thinned everytime I went to the salon, but it was so, darn, thick!!!!! ponytails were like rope

      Glad you’re fighting the good fight, Jenn!

  3. I have struggled with false perceptions of myself for as far back as I can remember. I wanted to have a shape like the other girls and I didn’t. I think what made it worse was that my mom would always (and still does) call herself fat and say how much she hates the way she looks. And I look just like her. We have the same body shape…and she hates her body. I still struggle with the way my body looks, but I know I’m beautiful. I look like Katie McNemar and that’s they way I’m supposed to look. I have a few favorite features…my eyes, my lips, my hair, and..the ladies! 🙂

    I know you don’t want compliments, but seriously Kristin, you are beautiful in every way. You are one of my favorite people. All the people I love are beautiful.

  4. Try being a triplet with a sister who is one size smaller than you and has a winning personality. I was always comparing myself. And when I didn’t, others did it for me. “oh your the quiet one”, “she’s the cute one” (not pointing at me), or “I know which one is more attractive but I’m not gonna say”. Stupid stupid people. Don’t they know that those words stay with a person FOREVER? I guess if anything, its made me a better mom. If I compliment one, I compliment the other. I have 2 girls. Sometimes its even whats not said. If I say to my youngest, “You are such a pretty girl” but don’t say it to my oldest, I wonder what she thinks about that. I’m sure she assumes that she is ugly. I got told all kinds of things by my dad too. He said I was chubby and that I had fat legs. Looking back, I was not fat at all. He was teasing, but it hurt my feelings so much and I carried it with me for a long time. I’m gonna grow old and gray and I have to work on what’s really important – my heart. In the end, its how much God is working through us that makes us so beautiful. You are a beauty! Never forget that.

  5. I have chosen to embrace my enormously large big toe. I have an uncanny dexterity as well.

    Thanks for being so honest right here, Kristin. I appreciate what you’ve written about.

  6. I’ve always been “little” i guess for my age. When I was in 2nd grade some kid at reccess said, “hey, all the 2nd graders will chase the 1st graders in a game of tag.” He heard me say “Yes”! then I pointed at me and said except for Arny, he is with the 1st graders! I remember that so well….but I don’t remember how I felt. bad probably…

    i was always “that” short guy that looks like a little kid….then I grew a gotee…and now everone thinks i’m way to old for my age! lol….

    Now….my weight is what is starting to bother me….

  7. Oddly enough, yes. Always been short and underweight, and…well, we’ve discussed my hair before. I’ve always loved to sing out loud, even before i could control my voice or knew what was or wasn’t in my range. Still, I’m 28, no gray hairs yet, still in excellent physical shape, and the last time someone guessed my age, they said 23 (on the day before my birthday). The Lord’s restoring my youth, and all I can say is it comes from trusting Him.

  8. I, too, have suffered in the way you describe. I look back at pictures of me as a child and don’t think I was ugly. I can remember different times being picked on by others and told how ugly I was. One time, someone I thought was a really good friend said (in front of my brother, her brother, and one of her other friends who was in my brother’s class), “Shelley, you’re pretty….” I said thank you, and no sooner did I get it out of my mouth than she followed it up with, “….Pretty ugly!” and she and the other girl laughed and the other girl agreed with her that I was pretty ugly. I don’t remember if the boys laughed or not. I went home, crying to mom about what happened. I don’t think she wanted me playing with them again if they were going to be so mean to me. There were other instances like that, and not all were from people I thought were my friends either. I’m 42 years old, and I still remember those times, and the names still hurt like it happened yesterday.

    I know I’m not the best looking woman in the world, and I need to lose weight that I’ve gained since this time last year, but can I really be THAT ugly?? I find it difficult to accept compliments because usually when I would get a compliment, it was because the other person wanted something and they were trying to butter me up. I always think people want something now whenever they tell me I’m looking good today, or that colour looks great on me, or whatever. I’m sure in the majority of the cases they don’t want anything….but old behaviours die hard.

    You’re a lot stronger and braver than I! I don’t think I would or could ever post a photo of me without makup or hair looking half-way decent. Shoot, I can’t leave the house without my makeup on and hair combed and in place…

    • I wonder if it’s just a phase kids go through? I do suppose kids have to learn it from SOMEWHERE, though, don’t they?

      I will admit, I waffled about whether to post it. I dont know why, but something about putting something on the internet that will last forever…

  9. I had the opposite experience as a teenager. Slim. Long legs. Long blond hair. Blue eyes, dimples, great skin, perfect teeth, and a nice tan. I was hot, and everybody let me know it.

    But other than my looks I had absolutely no worth. To anyone, except the God I didn’t know yet. It has been a long hard struggle to disentangle myself from what I look like on the outside. Gaining a bunch of weight in my twenties after I had kids didn’t help, and yet it did, because it forced me to discover and value all the other things God made me to be.

    I love aging. I’m in my thirties now. I find that with every passing year, the outside matters less, but reflects more of who I am. Every wrinkle and stretch mark mean something. I love going to the gym and NOT getting checked out by the googly-eyed muscle heads. It lets me focus on my workout. Ha!

    • I feel like I’m coming into my own looks, now. Like this is what I’m “supposed” to look like. I’m much more likely to wake in the morning today and like what I see in the mirror before work than I was 10 years ago.

      I’m glad you shared that outer beauty doesn’t always make one feel secure. That’s an important message, as well.

  10. I don’t remember what I thought of myself prior to age 12 but after that, I viewed myself as ugly and worthless. I know well what you’ve written about, Kristin. I was depressed and suicidal for much of junior high. Faith brought me out of suicidal ideation but it didn’t fix my self-esteem. It took therapy and really examining God’s character. He doesn’t screw up when He makes people. Finally viewing myself as beautiful in His eyes made all the difference.

    I think my best feature is my eyes but I get a lot of smile compliments too.

  11. Honestly, in terms of physical looks, I’ve never had a lot of concern. I went through some awkward phases growing up (didn’t we all?), but overall was fairly content with how I looked.

    I always believed I was ugly on the inside, though. I worked so hard for so long to put up a false front, always appearing as the strong guy who had it all together, just so people would never know how messed-up I really was inside. Whenever somebody complimented me or was nice to me, the first thought that always crossed my mind was “They wouldn’t say that if they REALLY knew me.” That’s not a very fun way to live, let me tell ya….

    Fortunately, God’s been bringing me out of that in the last few years. He’s shown me a level of creativity in myself that I’ve never realized before, and through my friends, is showing me that I really am a good guy, just the way I am. Like you said, He created me, both inside and out. Who am I to question his work?

    • I only “met” you through Twitter, but I’d say, unless you’re the world’s best actor, you really are a great guy and God most certainly knew what he was doing with you.

      • Aw shucks, you’re just sayin’ that ’cause it’s true. 🙂

        Seriously though, thanks for posting this. It takes a lot of nerve to share your insecurities in such an open environment. The good that can come of it is well worth it, though!

  12. It’s amazing how it took you partaking in God’s creation (your daughter) to realize how He sees you, huh? I love everything about this!

    I’ve been told that my best feature is my smile. I tend to agree. 🙂

    • you do have a nice smile. I agree.

      God has to really give me “wow” moments of revelation, because that’s how my brain works. I don’t usually come to ideas gradually, sad to say.

  13. The older I get, the more I focus on my appearance. Yes, I’m turning into a junior higher in my old age. It’s because I figure if I look good, then it will look like I have it all together, when I most obviously don’t. I’ve been blessed to have some people come into my life who see me as beautiful, but don’t disregard the ugly parts that need changing-they are willing and able to help me see how I can become more beautiful and even more of a reflection of Him.

  14. I love your post today! I think you know how I feel about this subject when it comes to you, both from the past to the present. I’m glad your mini-Mi(a) is just like you in every way. 🙂

  15. I can totally relate – mine is in relation to weight. 😦

    Great post, thanks.

  16. You don’t meet very many girls who *do* like their looks, honestly. There are a few on the flip side, of course, the arrogant ones that think they’re the best thing in the world, but even those generally harbor huge insecurities. Most of those are like Danka discribed, aware of the outside but with no sense of worth inside. I would dare to guess at least 80 percent of girls/women struggle with their looks at various points in their lives. All the while, as we humans are wont to do, assuming no one else feels that way. 😀

    • I read an article the other day about how, as a society, we keep pushing looks over brains. So much so, that 25% of young girls say they would rather be pretty than smart. I’ve never said that, but I could see how that would happen because of where we place our collective value.

      • I think a part of that is natural, in some respects. Pretty can be seen at a glance; smart can’t. Random strangers can comment on pretty upon entering a room, but for smart they have to listen a while and you have to be in a situation where you would be demonstrating your smartness. You can tell that a girl on a magazine cover is pretty; you can’t tell if she’s smart. You can’t tell if a girl on TV is smart, either, except in a few venues; most of the time, an actress is reading from a script, so she really only needs enough brains to comprehend what the script says to do. That’s not to say that actresses don’t *have* more brains than that; but you can only really have a chance to find out if she’s smart in unscripted moments, because a good script can cover a considerable amount of stupidity (just ask certain politicians’ speech writers). 😉

  17. Also, the nob on your shower control is enormous! One feels as though if it ever fell off, it would leave a hole through the earth. 😀 I need one of those. Maybe then I could read the Cold and Hot sides without my glasses.

  18. Pingback: American Idol: Beauty | Beta Christian

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