One day someone will tell you that you’re ugly. Very few people get to go through life without hearing this one time or another. Not because they are ugly people, but because the world has a lot of ugliness in it.
Before I had children I was scared of this idea, of the hurt that you would feel. Of what I could possibly say. Of the hurt that I would feel at hearing that someone thought something that I loved was “ugly”.
I’m not scared of it anymore, now that you’re here. Each of you.
I’ll sit down with you. I’ll ask you how you feel about what that person said. Do you think that they really think that you are ugly? Do you think that they were trying to upset you for some reason? What kind of situation must there be for a person to say something that they know will be hurtful?
Maybe they really do think that you’re ugly. Let me tell you a secret. Not everyone likes the color yellow. Not everyone likes the color red. Not everyone likes the color green, or brown, or black, or pink. Some people think those colors are ugly. And some people think that they’re the most beautiful thing. There are many people in the world. Too many to be something perfect, because each person is looking at certain things. Some people will think that you’re ugly. Does that bother you? I am sorry. Many people will think that you are beautiful too. And even if you’re the ugliest creature on the face of the planet with every attribute that this society feels is a negative? Physical beauty isn’t the summary of a person’s existence. If you’re really truly ugly? Embrace it and go chase all the ways of beauty that are open to you. Life is too big for there to be one measure of your value.
Or maybe they want to hurt you for some reason. Have you been mean to them? Do they feel ugly? Has someone told them that they are ugly? Has someone told them that you are beautiful, and when they look at you they see their own faults and everything lovely in you makes them feel sad because no one has told them about the beauty that they have? Maybe blonde hair should be jet black, maybe short legs should be long. Maybe brown eyes should be blue, or short lashes should be long. Maybe they have too much of something and feel that means you have too little. Maybe they are caught up in trying to understand what beauty IS, and they need to find one particular thing. Children can be simple like that. They’ll pick a favorite food, a favorite flower, and anything other than what they favor is ugly until they change their minds and love something completely different. Some grown people are like that, too.
Happy people don’t tend to tell other people that they’re ugly. Sad people do. Or sometimes innocent people that don’t think “ugly” is such a bad thing at all, just a simple fact of opinion.
Whatever it is, that word isn’t the huge stabbing insult that I used to think that it was.
In a long ago distant past I felt that a person telling me I was “ugly” was something sad. It HURT. Today? If someone told me that I was ugly? I’d smile gently. I’d tell them that I’m sorry that they feel that way, but that I am happy with how I look and with who I am. I’d tell them that I think that they are beautiful, and that I love the color of their eyes and the softness of their form. That I like how they move when they walk, and how their eyes crinkle up at the corners when they laugh.
Then I’d go and dig in the garden and get dirt caught under my toenails because the joy of being barefoot in the mud is one of the things that makes me beautiful. Or ugly. It really depends on how you view those things.
I like the opinions closest to me, because those are the ones that I will live with every day.
You will hear a lot about “ugly”. It’s this weird thing that we live with. You’ll hear about “fat” and about “stupid” and about “idiot” and a lot of potty words directed at a lot of different people. Look at the person that is using the words. Are they the best judge of these things? Don’t look where they are pointing. Look back at them. Look at the bad driver that is yelling at people on the road. They’re upset because other drivers that are just as bad as them? Make their faults more obvious. Look at the person that talks about how fat everyone is. Have they been told that they are too thin? That they are fat, so they need to point out the people that are fatter?
The ugly things that people might say about you often say more about them than they do about you.
You are not ugly. You are beautiful. As a child you might feel that my opinion isn’t important because I /have/ to feel that way as your mother. I have to say nice things to you and think nice things about you. I’m one of the people that is closest to you, so what could my opinion matter?
With time you will come to understand that those ARE the opinions that matter. The ones closest to you. Those are the people that you live with, that love you, that understand the complexity of you.
Who cares what a virtual stranger or casual friend might think? Do they know you? Or are they trying to summarize you into the box of a single word?