Being told you’re ugly hurts. There’s nothing pleasant about it, and as much as you might brush it off, it still hurts your feelings.
If it was as easy as changing our appearances with the push of a button, I’m sure many of us would do it. But in reality, we have to learn to deal with certain parts of ourselves which we may not like.
A video about how to deal with being ugly, by Ideapod’s founder Justin Brown, raised a few interesting points on how we view beauty. You can watch the video below.
In the video, Justin mentions how we need to ‘reconfigure our relationship with beauty’, and instead of focussing on just our outer beauty, we should accept that each one of us is simply different.
So it is possible to change your mindset, even if you can’t change your appearance? In this article we’ll look into what it actually means to be ugly, as well as a useful exercise and some tips on coping with your appearance issues.
What does it mean to be ugly?
Traditionally, beauty is defined by the shape, tone and distance of features on our face. A symmetrical face with clear skin, big eyes and a straight nose is what we’re used to seeing on models.
The opposite of beautiful is ugly. This is defined as someone who is unattractive to others, whether it’s their face or body.
So what does it actually mean to be ugly? Is there a checklist? Maybe, but it’s a man-made checklist.
Beauty, in many ways, is objective. When many people classify something as beautiful, it becomes the norm.
But how do we really know what we think is beautiful, when society, the media and celebrities are constantly pushing their ideas of beauty onto us?
Typically, what we grow up seeing everyday in magazines, or on TV influences what we believe to be beautiful or ugly.
But this isn’t a universal decision. Someone who is considered ugly in a western country may be seen as beautiful elsewhere in the world.
And while we’re on that point, who said beauty has to be just about appearances? What about finding beauty in our personalities, our traits and the way we make other people feel?
So much is focussed on our physical appearance, but maybe this wouldn’t matter so much if we started to see the beauty that’s within us. We all have it, just in different shapes and forms.
Coping with being ugly: A strange but effective exercise
During his video, Justin mentions an exercise which can be used to help deal with being ugly. At first, it seems unusual, even a bit pointless. How can one exercise help how you feel about yourself?
But once you try it, you’ll start to understand the point he’s making. The exercise is simple, but it gets to the root of some of our feelings towards being ugly.
It transports you back to being a child, when your life was filled with playing, imagining and being yourself. Back to a time when you weren’t being defined by society’s perception of beauty.
Take all the negative thoughts that you have towards your appearance, and then imagine that yourself back when you were a child.
Imagine your younger self sitting in front of you, visualise it. Then, start saying all those negative opinions to that child sitting in front of you.
How does it make you feel?
For me, the exercise brought up a lot of emotions. I started to feel that the little girl in front of me didn’t deserve to hear those things; she’s a person who should grow up free and happy, regardless of her appearance.
It didn’t make sense to put her down and hurt her feelings. So why should it make sense to do it now, as an adult?
To find out more about the exercise and how you can use it to improve your relationship with your appearance, watch the video here.
14 things you need to know about being ugly
Dealing with being ugly isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard either. Many factors which can make you feel worse about yourself can actually be changed or removed, but it’s up to you to make those first steps.
Here are 14 small changes and tips which you can use:
1) What other people think of you is none of your business
I first heard this quote a few years ago, and it really struck a chord within me. When we listen and take on board every single opinion that people have of ourselves, we end up feeling miserable.
But, if you change the way you think, suddenly, what other people have to say about you is irrelevant. You are in control of your life, thoughts and feelings.
What they have to say is their business, and it has nothing to do with you. If anything, their comments are a reflection of themselves. All they do is make themselves look bad.
Of course, putting this into practice is much easier said than done. If you take action and decide that every time you hear something negative being said about you that it’s none of your business, you’ll eventually learn to stop being hurt by mean comments.
People are going to judge you regardless, even beautiful people often face scrutiny.
You have an obligation to yourself. You can’t wait for people to start being nice to you to feel good about yourself. You are you, and you have to be the one to make yourself feel good again.
Ignoring what other people have to say is the first step in taking control over your life, regardless of your appearance.
2) Practice self love
Being ugly presents you with an opportunity to do something that will benefit you for a lifetime — practicing self love.
Unfortunately, self-love is difficult these days.
And the reason is simple:
Society conditions us to try and find ourselves in our relationships with others. We’re taught that the true path to happiness is through romantic love.
Although being ugly is in no way an impediment to finding romantic love, I believe that this sort of love is an unrealistic standard for everyone.
I used to believe that:
- I needed to be successful before I deserved to find someone who could love me.
- There was a “perfect person” out there and I just had to find them.
- I would finally be happy once I found “the one”.
What I now know is that these limiting beliefs were stopping me from having a positive relationship with myself. I was chasing an illusion that was leading me to loneliness.
I’m going to turn to the wisdom of the shaman Rudá Iandê to flesh out why self-love is so important.
Rudá is a world-renowned shaman. He has supported thousands of people for over 25 years to break through social programming so they can rebuild the relationships they have with themselves.
I recorded a free masterclass on love and intimacy with Rudá Iandê so he could share his knowledge with the Ideapod community.
In this masterclass, Rudá explains that the most important relationship you can develop is the one you have with yourself:
“If you do not respect your whole, you cannot expect to be respected as well. Don’t let your partner love a lie, an expectation. Trust yourself. Bet on yourself. If you do this, you will be opening yourself to be really loved. It’s the only way to find real, solid love in your life.”
If these words resonate with you, please do go and check out our free masterclass. There’s an option to “watch yesterday’s replay”, which means you can start watching it immediately.
Ideapod is all about supporting you in taking your power back from a system that so often takes it away.
Our free masterclass on love and intimacy is a wonderful resource to help you do this.
3) Find beauty within yourself
If you struggle to find parts of your appearance which you like, try focussing on other areas of your life.
Beauty can be found in the smallest of things, in the most unexpected places. And the great thing is, no one can really disagree with you, because like with art and music, beauty is subjective.
So, if you love singing, keep singing. If helping others is your passion, do it more. You can choose what you find beautiful about your personality or lifestyle, and build it up.
Doing activities which make you feel good can be a great reminder that there’s more to beauty than just looks.
Even if you think you’re ugly, people won’t be able to resist seeing the beauty in you if that’s all you project into the world.
Now, that’s not to say you need to be the next Mother Theresa to get over your appearance issues, but do you see anyone commenting on her looks?
Think of the great people in the world; you’ll find that their looks don’t affect how the world views them, because they followed their passions and stayed true to themselves.
4) Learn to accept yourself
Acceptance of ourselves can be really difficult. We can learn to accept others, but when it comes to our own flaws, we’re often very critical of ourselves.
Justin Brown, the founder of Ideapod, talks about self love and learning to embrace yourself as you are,
‘It’s important to regularly put in some time thinking through the things that you love about yourself so you can get into the habit of continually appreciating this about yourself.’
It can be easy to shy away from the things we don’t like about ourselves. When it comes to looks, maybe you avoid mirrors or having pictures taken.
But every time you repeat this habit, you’re reinforcing the idea that you don’t like yourself. Instead of becoming closer to accept who you are, you’re running from it.
Try facing these issues head on. Self love isn’t just about focussing on your positive qualities, it’s also about embracing your flaws and making them a part of who you are.
5) Avoid jealousy
It’s so easy to compare yourself to others. We all do it without even realizing it.
But, jealousy does nothing but make you feel worse about yourself. Cheri Bermudez describes the what jealousy can do in her article on Owlcation,
‘[The] effects of jealousy include a decrease in one’s perceived self-worth, emotional instability, feelings of bitterness, the breaking of relationships, prolonged depression and extreme anxiety.’
It’s a tough emotion to deal with, but if you truly want to feel better about yourself and your appearance, it’s definitely something to work on.
The truth is, there’s always going to be people who have it better than you.Better looks, more money, a dream lifestyle.
Keep in mind that there’s always going to be people who have less than you, too.
Whilst you’re busy comparing your life to someone you’re jealous of, someone else is doing the same with you and your life.
This is a negative cycle, which ultimately you can’t gain anything from. The sooner you quit comparing yourself to others and learn to accept who you are and the looks you’ve been given, the quicker you’ll come to peace with it.
6) Keep those who love you for who you are close
There are so many factors that come into good friendships and relationships. Usually, it’s things like having a sense of humour, or being a good person which are the qualities we think about when making friends or looking for a romantic partner.
Have you ever heard a couple, married for many years, say that the reason they’re still together is his/her good looks?
Probably not, and the reason is because our looks only take us so far. After that, it really comes down to who we are as people.
In your life, surround yourself with the people who genuinely love you for who you are. The people who don’t care what you look like.
When someone genuinely loves you (as a friend, family member or more), they don’t even notice half the things you dislike about yourself.
Take it from first hand experience. I spent years obsessing over the gap in between my front teeth. When I finally got it closed at the dentist, I waited excitedly for everyone to notice and comment on how much better I looked.
To my complete disappointment, no one even noticed it. And when I brought it up, they were honestly surprised and hadn’t realized that I had changed anything.
I learnt from this, that when you really care about someone, you don’t see physical aspects of their appearance as important. A lot of what we believe is wrong with us is actually in our heads.
7) Cultural differences are important
As mentioned earlier, the definition of beauty changes from country to country.
The western world tends to think that being skinny is attractive, but in some communities like in Mauritius, being curvy and full bodied is seen as beautiful.
This shows us that beauty comes in all different forms. What one culture considers gorgeous can often be seen as weird or unusual in another culture.
Dr Sunaina writes about how culture influences beauty around the world,
‘What is considered beautiful today, may be ridiculed tomorrow. When society changes, so does our perception of beauty. What will be the next definition of beauty a 100 or 1000 years from now?’
She mentions how the current fashion and styles of our generations play a big role in what we see as attractive. Since this is subject to change (constantly) how can we really define what is beautiful and what isn’t?
8) You are more than just your looks
Looks, whether they’re attractive or not, all fade eventually. Old age, wrinkles and white hair is guaranteed to us all (unless you age less naturally using cosmetic surgery).
Think about all the qualities you love about yourself. Now think about your appearance. Does your appearance stop you from being all those wonderful things?
No. What stops you from embracing them is your mind. You are the only one who can allow yourself to focus on the positives instead of the negatives.
As Justin Brown describes in his video on ‘How to deal with being ugly’, one of the exercises involves imagining your 5 or 6 year old self, and telling them all the things that you hate about your appearance.
It’s a tough exercise which can be quite emotional, but it can really help you to realize that we are so much more than just our appearances.
The child you once were probably dreamt of having a cool job, great friends or fun experiences. Go back to that person, who chased their dreams without letting their appearance stop them from being who they truly are.
9) Build your confidence
Confidence is an amazing quality to have. But it doesn’t always come naturally.
Luckily, there are ways to learn how to be confident. Once you have mastered it, you can use it to your full advantage.
You might not ever feel 100% confident in your appearance, but you can make sure that you’re confident in yourself as a person. And this confidence will make you more attractive than ever.
WeAreTheCity defines how confidence can make you more attractive, ‘When someone is confident within themselves, they transform the energy in the room. We are drawn to them; we want to be their friend, to talk to them; and to date them.’
So, you might not be able to change your appearance, but you can improve your confidence. This will take you much further than just having pretty features, as you’ll draw people into your personality and vibe.
10) Be you
Being yourself is an exercise. We can be influenced by the people around us, society, school, all sorts of things can lead us away from who we really are.
But in your quest to find peace and acceptance within yourself about your appearance, you must be who you are. Or, who you want to be (as we’re constantly learning and evolving).
Your appearance is just one small part of you. Granted, it often feels like a huge part, and the fact that people can be judgemental doesn’t make it easier.
But if you break it down, at the core of each of us is our spirit, our personality, our thoughts and feelings. We’re made up of so much more than just our physical appearances.
Be yourself, and you’ll attract people who are like you, and who will like you for you.
If you spend a lifetime faking it and trying to fit in where you’re not really comfortable, you’ll end up with friends who aren’t genuine and a lifestyle which isn’t really for you.
11) Consider change only if you really must
If your appearance really brings you pain and limits your quality of life, there are things you can do to improve it. This is your choice, and it isn’t something that should be judged by others.
But, whether you want to go for plastic surgery or non-surgical procedures, it’s important to know that self-love and confidence comes from within.
Surgery can help improve your appearance, and in some cases it can help with confidence and feeling socially accepted. What it won’t fix is your mindset and view of how you perceive yourself.
If surgery is too expensive, you might want to consider smaller changes that you can make. Here are some tips:
- Dress according to your body shape instead of just following what’s in fashion
- Keep yourself well groomed – personal hygiene, clean clothes and healthy hair and teeth can all make you look more attractive
- Invest in a good skin care routine, for both men and women, as this can help keep your skin clear and youthful
- Eat and exercise well – choose a healthy balance which will keep you in shape and feeling good about yourself
- Experiment with different styles. Maybe a particular style gives you a quirky edge and brings out your personality. Avoid being bland just to fit in
- Avoid bad habits such as smoking or drinking – both can increase signs of aging
12) Maximise your best features
Maximising your best features doesn’t have to be just physical, it can be your personality as well. But for arguments sake, we’ll focus just on how you can maximise your looks.
At some point in your life, you will have been told you have nice ___. It could be your teeth, eyes, smile, hair, smell. Whatever it is, work it.
If you have sparkling blue eyes, wear clothes that make them stand out. If you have a nice smile, smile until your heart’s content. Got a good head of hair? Learn how to style it so that it frames your face perfectly.
Don’t waste your time thinking about all the things you wish you could improve. Work on those small features which will stand out and make you feel good in the process.
Sometimes it’s not the overall appearance that attracts us to someone. It can sometimes be the small details, the way someone bites their lip when they’re nervous, or the way their eyes crease when they laugh.
13) Avoid spending too much time on social media
Social media is a huge factor in this generation’s issues with their appearance. As someone who has often struggled with my looks, I took a conscious decision to remove some of the pages I followed on Instagram.
These were beauty pages, filled with models, the latest fashion and makeup. But I quickly realized that I was comparing myself to those models, and had started to form a really negative idea of how I looked.
I passed this advice onto friends who were also critical of their appearances, and by unfollowing these pages, they too began to feel better about themselves.
With that being said, technology and social media can be wonderful tools, but when it comes to ideas of beauty, what we often see is fake.
Filters, editing, airbrushing and touching up all goes into the pictures we see of perfect people living perfect lives. What we sometimes forget is that the camera only takes a snapshot of that person’s life.
Use social media to empower you. Follow accounts which make you feel good about yourself, instead of constant reminders of what you don’t have.
14) Stop putting yourself down
There are enough people in the world who’ll try and put you down, don’t be one of them. To combat outside negativity, many people believe in using affirmations to change the way they think.
Amy Harman, a marriage and family therapist, speaks about the importance of affirmations to remove negative thoughts,
‘A well-trained mind can overcome pain, fear, and self-doubt. A well-trained mind can also become negative and convince our bodies of physical sensations or conditions that aren’t actually present.’
Not only does Harman reference the fact that training your mind to think positive thoughts can be effective, she’s also making the point that continuously putting yourself down, or thinking negatively, can cause you to think and feel things which aren’t real.
If you constantly tell yourself you are ugly, you’ll feel ugly. If you change your mindset and focus on the positives, you’ll eventually learn to give less importance to your flaws and appearance issues.
There’s no quick fix to change your mindset when it comes to feeling good about your appearance. But if you do one thing after reading this article, it’s to go a bit easier on yourself.
If you’ve been feeling down about your looks, try making small changes in your lifestyle and mindset which will serve as a reminder to you that appearance isn’t everything.
Ultimately, whatever the world’s definition of beautiful is, you have to learn to accept, embrace and love yourself for who you are.