I think I’m ugly.
We all seem to think we’re dogs. Like, in a bad way. Kind of a stupid insult, isn’t it? After all, dogs are adorable. What is an ugly animal we should choose instead? Ah, the Marabou stork. A hideous looking creature with crepe-like old lady skin, weird neck bulges that look like selfie-chin gone wrong, and scraggly little curly hairs that look like you found them in the bottom of your shower drain. I think we all know where they come from.
They come from pubes.
So, yeah. I think I look like a Marabou stork.
And you know what? That’s stupid. I’ve never been called ugly in my life. I’ve been called other things, and other facets of my body have definitely been called into question, but no one has ever said I’m ugly. They didn’t need to. I’ve been calling myself ugly since the day I was born. Impossible, you say? Babies can’t talk? Shut up.
My point is, I’ve felt hideous for a very long time. And I’m not the only one. I’d say at least eighty percent of the human race are deeply dissatisfied with some physical aspect of themselves. (The other twenty percent are either the rare few who actually possess confidence, or, more likely, are self-centered pricks.)
But why is this? Why do we have such a natural instinct for self-loathing?
I blame all the usual suspects. Society, media, exploitation of women’s sexuality, misogynists, hormones, evolution, blah blah blah. And all of this holds a lot of water. Still, if I had to boil it all down to a single statement it would be this.
There are pretty people. We wish we looked like them.
Even if I am actually pretty, (I have no way of knowing this, since I’m sure as hell not going to believe you if you tell me I am), I don’t think I’m pretty. You can tell me til the end of time that my eyes are limpid pools of greenish brownish hazelish beauty, or that my lips are plump like unto a blossoming rosebud, or that my nostrils are delicately arched and distinguished beyond compare. All I’m going to see are poopy colored eyes, a crooked mouth and cashew shaped nostrils, and differently sized cashews at that. Besides that, my hair is thin, my chin is weak, and my eyelids are droopy so I always look like I’m falling asleep. Here. I’ll show you.
This, is my self-portrait.
It’s actually laughable. It’s such an exaggerated, ridiculous version of myself that even I can’t really take it seriously. And yet, that’s how I feel I look.
When I was young, I used to keep a compliment journal of all the wonderful things people said about me. I had a pretty decent collection through the months I kept it. Until, I realized that reading it didn’t actually make me feel better. Compliments, while always nice, are frail, flimsy things. They dissolve off into the ether as though they never existed for all the good they really do you. Don’t get me wrong, a good compliment can make someone’s day, and I highly encourage giving genuine praise when it’s warranted. But, making someone’s day is a lot different from making their entire psyche change. Not gonna happen. The only person who can do it is yourself. Myself. Ourselves.
My dad is a very blunt creature. Not in a mean way, mind you. It’s just, when he thinks you’re being ridiculous, he’s quite sure to tell you. Years ago, I remember being on a family road trip (a truly hellish time, as all family road trips are). I was in the throes of mid-teen puberty. My face was dusted with a constant smattering of blemishes and frequently treated with nightly applications of aquafresh and tears. Yup. Toothpaste. Dries the little fuckers right up.
On this road trip, per usual, I bemoaned my fate aloud. “I’m so ugly!” I wailed. Without missing a beat, my father launched into an off the cuff, completely improvised little ditty all about my acne and how hideous I was. It was so over the top, so outlandish and absurd and heavy handed and mocking that I just had to laugh. I wish I’d gotten a recording of it, but he just pulled it right out of his ass unexpectedly. I do remember the last line though.
“My face is a crater-ridden planet, if you want ug-ly, I am it.”
I suppose some fool will think he was being rude, but that’s dead wrong. He was calling my bullshit. Showing me how utterly ridiculous I was being by taking my complaints to the extreme. To this day, when my self-loathing gets out of control, I think about his song and laugh. We all take ourselves too seriously. It’s so easy to spiral into self-hate. The world seems to encourage it, but fuck em. Even if I were ugly, even if I were the cashew shaped nostriled monstrosity I believe myself, so what? Why the hell should it matter? If that’s my worst case scenario, is that really such a big deal? A lifetime of media and society and evolution will scream, “Yes you haggish bitch! Of course it matters!” But nah. It doesn’t. I still have my mind, my hobbies, friends and family, sense of humor, and my hope for wonderful things. Those all have far more value than what my body looks like.
I remember seeing once, on YouTube, some viewer had written in a question about feeling ugly and what to do about it. The host responded that they weren’t going to tell them they weren’t ugly because, first, they had no idea what they looked like, and second, the fact that they FELT ugly was what needed to be addressed. I love that. No one can talk you out of how you feel. People can disagree with you til one of you drops dead, but it’s not going to change your mind. YOU have to do that.
So stop being an ass-hat. You’re probably not actually ugly. And if you are? So what? So. Fucking. What? Doesn’t mean you’re not awesome. Or funny. Or smart. Or even sexy! If you think “ugly” people can’t be sexy, you’re an idiot. I’ve been attracted to so many unconventional looking people simply because their inner awesomeness radiates through them like a lightning bolt straight to my vagina. Yup. I said vagina. It’s going to be that kind of blog.
Long story short, there are so many more important things to worry about than how we look. Like maybe the freaking pandemic? Racism? Sexism? The end of our planet? Why do we put our physical appearance at the top of our worry list again and again? I’ve been guilty of it, most of us are, at least in terms of dwelling on our imperfections. Cosmically speaking, though, it’s so stupid to waste our happiness on something we can’t control and, frankly, offers us little value.
However, you are allowed to feel ugly. You are allowed to experience self-doubt and dislike things about yourself. It’s really hard not to feel like we’re lacking, I’m not going to begrudge you feeling down from time to time. Hell, I’m right there with ya. You can wish you were taller or shorter, thinner or curvier. It’s human to feel those things and telling you to stop would be a waste of time. You can’t help the way you feel. I get it. But don’t waste too much energy on it, ok? You do get to decide how important these insecurities are in your life. You do get to choose how much you obsess over them and what extremes you take to rectify them (or not, hopefully). You do get to choose to look for the good in others and in so doing, perhaps find it in yourself.
And on days where you see a photo that makes you look like the love child of a hippopotamus’s asshole and an expired tub of cottage cheese? Maybe write a witty limerick about your crooked nose, or doodle an exaggerated caricature of your saggy earlobes, (or saggy breasts, as the case may be.) Then, look at it and laugh, realize you’re being a silly little dum-dum face, and go about your day.
Just remember, there’s a 90 percent chance you’re not really ugly. And even if you are? I bet you’ve got a great personality. And that’s sexy as fuck.
6 thoughts on “To All my Fellow Grotesque Creatures”
Oh, my dear friend, I soo relate. Unfortunately, my family reinforced the idea I was grotesque and undesirable. “Oh dear Lord, there is Paul ruining another picture.” (I kid you not.)
I’m still very uncomfortable with my physical appearance. Hence, no selfies and Anpu as my current avatar. And even after 60 years on this planet, I probably look into mirrors less frequently than your average vampire.
You, my friend, enrich my life so much. I love your snarky sense of humor, your creativity, your intellect, and your slightly tilted view of the world. You are a gift. You are beautiful.
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Oh wow, I’m so sorry you went through that! That would be so difficult, no one deserves that. You’re an absolutely wonderful person and I’m so incredibly lucky to have stumbled across such a great friend! Thank you sooooo much for your wonderful compliments. I absolutely cannot tell you how much they mean. I even saved them to look back on when I’m feeling wretched, because from time to time, I still do that, lol! You are absolutely beautiful too.
This was a great entry. I felt this on many levels and I loved that you focused on how even if we *were* ugly (who decides that anyway?) so what?
I’ve spent the last few years coming to terms with my averageness and that’s exactly the mindset I took. Looks are not even close to the most interesting thing about humans.
First off, you’re SOOOO not average! But, I also know exactly how it feels to think of yourself that way and it’s something we all struggle with. You’re magnificent in so many ways. And though you’re stunningly beautiful, your kindness and warmth are what matters and what makes me truly love and appreciate you.
Wonderfully written. I had never heard of a Marabou stork, better believe I Google’d it. I enjoyed reading how your viewpoint shifted, your exaggerated self-portrait and your dad’s song. No matter how we look, there is some impossible standard we hold ourselves to and we choose to pick ourselves apart. And you’re right, it’s our choice to do it. Again, really enjoyed this and thank you for sharing. 🙂
Thank you so very much! I really appreciate such kind and supportive words!