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Calla

Being ugly

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Is this the right place to talk about being ugly? It's a thought that consumes most of my waking moments. I hate looking in the mirror, especially if I unexpectedly catch a glimpse of myself when I'm not prepared for it, for example in a window.

It's something I cry about a lot. I've had some abuse in the past about the way I look and was bullied at school for being fat. I've lost a lot of weight since then but still hate my face.

I try to tell myself thats life is about more than looks and I'm lucky to be quite intelligent. But I've been single for a long time and it's hard knowing no one finds you attractive enough to spend time with you. I'm not sure how to stop this thought swallowing me up all the time.

Thanks for any help.

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Hi Calla, I wish I could tell you to just stop doing that, it's not good for you !;) But that's the Mom in me speaking and I know that old patterns of seeing one's self die hard. I can also relate because I am now obese from years of SSRI medication and I'm not too fond of the mirror myself :) I'm not sure what to advise you to do to change that, it is an illusion, a distortion, but you are the one who has to see that.

Have you sought the help of a professional to help you see yourself in a better light? It's about reprogramming the brain to be less negative, but it's not an easy thing to do on our own...

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Calla,

Believing that you are ugly is a "Cognitive Distortion." Remember, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." It is not that you are ugly, rather, it is that you Think that you are.

Cognitive distortions can be changed. You need to work on that. Replace the distortion with a different thought: "I look good enough." None of us are Hollywood Stars" but we look "good enough" and that is all that matters.

Allan:)

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Hi Calla,

This is such a revolting and yet undeniable and unhide-able reality to too many people--- appearance seems to trump everything else--- intelligence, talent, heart, soul, compassion and just about every other worthwhile quality we have. I struggled with this for many years as a very dark-skinned, filthy, non-English speaking migrant worker who reeked of weeks old body odor, onions, garlic or whatever food product we were picking that season. The struggles left within me years of feeling like a 2nd or even a 3rd class citizen-- rejected and despised by others, and even myself over time. My heart goes out to you as I went down this path for years.

But soon I realized that there were 2 sides to this equation: 1) there is appearance based rejection sensitivity (a raw sensitivity to being rejected by others); and, 2) actual rejection for one’s appearance or ethnicity. Appearance-based rejection sensitivity is a belief system that involves anxious concerns and expectations about being rejected based on one's appearance alone. Actual rejection is just that, others reject me b/c I’m actually “ugly” or unattractive, or some other physical quality.

Note that those who score high in feeling that others will reject them (appearance-based rejection sensitivity) are more likely to have low self-esteem and self worth, high levels of being neurotic and anxious, have insecure way of attaching themselves to others (especially those who would show them attention), and they often over-estimate their value as a person based on their appearance. Thus, they tend to rate themselves as much less attractive than they actually are. This self assessment tends to contaminate relationships or poison potential ones.

Studies show, and I've seen it in my work, that individuals who are highly sensitive to rejection by others b/c of their appearance also report increased symptoms of eating disorders, lowered self esteem and self worth, self hatred/self loathing and self isolation. I had a parent once who had a child with ADHD and our office prescribed Methylphenidate (stimulant medication) to reduce the symptoms; however, we soon realized that mom had exaggerated the ADHD to get the meds, which she took every morning to lose weight. She soon developed a serious heart condition: she was now thin but also very ill.

Interestingly, those who are preoccupied with how others see them (again- appearance-based rejection sensitivity) state they feel more lonely, alone, rejected and isolated inside: conversely, people with similar physical characteristics but with much lower levels of concern about how others will view them, seem to not be negatively affected by their appearance.

One interesting fact is that those with excessive anxiety about being rejected based on their appearance tend to have fewer friendships or people around them who they can trust and feel bonded to: people with similar physical characteristics but with less concern about rejection based on their appearance tend to have more friends, more confidants, more meaningful interactions with others, a greater sense of belonging, and are less self isolating, alone and lonely.

This all gets to my question Calla, if you examined your life very carefully on this issue, which side of the continuum would be on? What percentage of your “ugly” side, as you say, results in actual rejection and what percentage on perceived rejection? Self rejection is much easier than potential (not actual) rejection by others.

Good luck Calla and I hope this helps

David

Edited by David O

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Thank you for your replies. I have read a self help book that says people who isolate themselves start to feel rejected, forgetting that it is them that has actually rejected others. I don't have many friends at all and it's partly down to this. But people seem to constantly say horrible things to me, which being sensitive really hurt me and eventually I have to cut people out.

I find it all hard to explain really because I feel like I'm not making sense.

When I feel very low I do tend to concentrate on one particular area of my face which I know is obsessive and more psychological than physical. And when I feel terrible I cry a lot which then makes the problem worse. I still feel a bit stupid saying it really. I don't want to ask anyone for help because I think they will be thinking "course there's nothing wrong with you mentally you are just ugly"......it would be laughable if it wasn't such a curse on me! I feel very lost. :confused:

I also wear glasses which I don't need to hide my face, hate making eye contact and often wear a hat to cover up as much as possible. But you are right that the other values in people are often ignored with image being all important. I've worked in a image obsessed industry for a long time too which hasn't helped. But I have had so called friends talk about my looks to my face and abuse in the street. And never get male attention.

Self help books seem to help me for a while but eventually it creeps back. Not sure what to do.

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Thank you for your replies. I have read a self help book that says people who isolate themselves start to feel rejected, forgetting that it is them that has actually rejected others. Calla, I realize this is most difficult and painful to the very core of your being. And I think that what you've said would strongly suggest that your solution has become the problem

I don't have many friends at all and it's partly down to this. yes, this seems to be the pattern with most folks who self isolate. My suggestion is that we make a plan of action for how to undo some of this. It would look something like this:

Days 1-5) Leave the house and walk around the neighborhood for >45 minutes per day. In the process say hi to 5 people no matter how hard it is-- you raise your eyes, look them in the eye (muscle thru your anxiety and stress) and say a genuine hi. No weak hi's allowed as this will diffuse your effort quickly. You want others to take note of your voice and the strength of your hello w/o sounding like an over-eager yellow lab.;)

Day 1-5) If you're at work, say good morning/good day to no less that 10 people that day. Again eye contact no matter what. You must learn to become desensitized to the anxieties of eye contact and possible rejection. If few people respond, shrug it off immediately, don't give it a second thot and go on to the next hello.

Day 5-30) Look around and join a book club, a social club, volunteer at the local soup kitchen, volunteer at the church or book store or library or local humane society (this can be very healing), or,.....etc., ...etc. The point is to get out and meet others and not isolate yourself to the point that you self reinforce and ruminate over your lot in life.

Day1-50) Keep saying hello to others and getting out. Keep at least this part of your routine going.

But people seem to constantly say horrible things to me, which being sensitive really hurt me and eventually I have to cut people out. I know this feels painful and very disconcerting. People say horrible things to each other all the time (and i never seem to know why), there's nothing special here. Understand that 80-90% of how people react to you says more about them than it does about you. What must and will be different about you is that you learn to be assertive when someone says something cruel or deliberately insensitive. Read:

http://www.selfhelpcollective.com/assertiveness.html

http://www.hodu.com/ECS-Menu3.shtml

http://www.workshopsinc.com/manual/Ch1L1.3.html

I find it all hard to explain really because I feel like I'm not making sense. You make perfect sense here, so you're doing very well.

When I feel very low I do tend to concentrate on one particular area of my face which I know is obsessive and more psychological than physical. And when I feel terrible I cry a lot which then makes the problem worse. I used to withdraw into a cave or caccoon and hibernate until the wound had healed somewhat, but it wasn't until I became assertive (w/o being hurtful) that things changed. I don't thubk I've heard an insulting comment in my direction in 10-15 years now.

I still feel a bit stupid saying it really. No need to feel this way, this is not easy stuff to overcome and it can take years and years to begin to feel the strength and self empowerment to be assertive and strong within yourself. I realize I make it sound easy, but I know it's not. I also know that it was consistent working at it for days and week and months to get to where I am.

I don't want to ask anyone for help because I think they will be thinking "course there's nothing wrong with you mentally you are just ugly" There's that voice of dis-empowerment, of self denial and self deprecation. It's all self feeding and eventually pervades everything until you don't feel like you even deserve to be heard or seen. Well that's not true, but you have to believe this, not me or us. And the only way to believe this is not to tell yourself it's true, but to act on what has been suggested and as you become successful the byproduct will be a channging self image and worth.

. ......it would be laughable if it wasn't such a curse on me! I feel very lost. :confused:

I also wear glasses which I don't need to hide my face, hate making eye contact and often wear a hat to cover up as much as possible. But you are right that the other values in people are often ignored with image being all important. I've worked in a image obsessed industry for a long time too which hasn't helped. But I have had so called friends talk about my looks to my face and abuse in the street. And never get male attention. Men aren't as purely visual as we make them out to be, We are also creatures that are attracted to spunk, life, energy, intelligence, charm, warmth, wit, etc.

Self help books seem to help me for a while but eventually it creeps back. Not sure what to do.Try the exercises above as a start then we can go from there. You should do them consistently for 30-45 days before you begin to sense a change within yourself and will notice how others will respond to you.

Calla, I don't want to minimize that your appearance and weight are not an issue, what i do want you to understand is that irrespective of this, like the studies show and I indicate above, the lion;'s share of the response to you from others will be how you carry yourself and not what you weigh.

Good luck and I hope my very direct and too straightforward approach does not suggest I'm not sensitive to your pain or what lies ahead. Stay with it, we got your back and my heart does go out to you,

david

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Hi Calla. I've struggled most of my life with this as well, but do feel much better about it now. I think once I got in touch with the parts of myself internally that I loved, I've looked at myself from the outside a whole lot differently. What you feel internally is what you present outwardly. Inner confidence makes you naturally attractive to others. It is also very true that being fearful to approach others often makes you unapproachable to others. This was also me for much of my life. Things have changed dramatically for me over the past several years. I'm certain they can for you as well. As David has suggested, putting yourself in situations where you are around others is a great way to start.

Sometimes changing small things can alter your self-perception as well. I find that I like my appearance much better when my hair has a bit of curl to it. It makes me feel more feminine and content with myself so I have been going with it lately. Maybe do something nice for yourself. What do you think?

I hope you feel better very soon, Calla.

Edited by IrmaJean

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I would like to comment that I love this thread since it addresses a core shame issue I have always had about my appearance and sexual attractiveness. Objectively, I am fat but work out in the gym regularly and am otherwise average to above average in appearance.

I sure hope David and Allan are right that there are men who can love me for myself and not just see me as too large to be appealing.

Thanks everyone for the input here, although obviously I wasn't the original poster. And thanks to Calla for bringing up an issue that I was too ashamed to even talk about, to be honest.

Catmom

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I really do appreciate the time people take to reply to me. But I'm afraid there is no way I can follow the advice of saying hello to people. I really don't feel up to it at all. But I also live in a not too nice area and I would actually be too scared to say hello to anyone. If you look at someone the wrong way round here there's trouble.

As for the volunteer work the problem is the work that I do. I would love to volunteer more and feel it's something missing from my life. But I'm self employed and get last minute calls to do some work so I can't commit to anytime or day as I don't know if I'll be working. And I can't afford to turn down work. I do some volunteer dog walking at a dogs home because you can just turn up and thats good but you don't talk to any people.

I do an exercise class where I've met some people and thats been very good for me. And my weight is not as much of a problem now, just the face. But I'm lonely and have a lot of time to obsess about things. not enough distractions I think.

And I do sometimes try making more of an effort and indeed I like curling my hair. But often it weirdly makes me feel worse because I try make up and nice clothes and still feel just as bad.

I know there are a lot of terrible things that people go through. And it seems so shallow but I feel so envious when I see a beautiful woman. But again todays society is so obsessed with image. The beautiful woman could be spiteful and cruel but she's would still be more respected and acknowledged by most people. And Catmom I think because of the world we live in a lot of people feel like this.

The most cruel thing about feeling low is that I know I should ask for help but I just can't do it.

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Catmom and Calla,

I'm so very sorry for how this has hurt both of you. I recall some 30+ years ago being madly, passionately in love with the heiress to much, much wealth and power (not my interest at the time tho). We dated for 2+ years and made plans to marry soon after high school and midway thru college. Then came that fateful day when her parents invited me over to spend a week at their plush home in Brentwood LA (where OJ Simpson and other wealthy folks live).

It was a disaster, my skin was alas too dark and I was not, as her dad said, "of good stock for you dear!" They continued on with pressing her to consider Steve the Harvard Law Graduate, or Pete the newly crowned neurosurgeon fresh out of Case Western Reserve and from good stock... but never was she to consider an Hispanic whose skin was, at that time, so dark that it rivaled/surpassed that of a Black person.

Soon I went off to college and graduated, and was soon therafter accepted at UCLA Med school in their Neuropsychiatry but instead when the ckinical psych route. Undeterred, her parents insisted that a minority would not be acceptable in the family-- eventually I did get my dear John letter and I was devastated

Just recently I was assigned a case in the city and the family loved me over the phone and wanted to meet ASAP. We arraived, myself (Dr. David) and my partner Dr. Ben -- both of us highly competent, accomplished and well educated--- but there was just one small problem, we were not permitted into the home from the front entrance for fear the neighbors might talk about the "darkies (and I'm no longer as dark)" in the home. Although our goal was only to provide psychiatric services. We refused the case!

It seems to plague me no matter where I go and it isn't something you can hide, especially when your first words have a slight accent.

Calla, you need not do it all at once, do one small part, just a small piece that gets you in motion. Think about it.

My heart is, as always, with both of you and I understand all too well what it means to be less than in ways that many never will.

I wish I had more time to write but my 1st appointment has arived... lets talk more later. Oh, and one last comment--- yes, many men will see life, intelligence, wit, humor, inner beauty, warmth, compassion and just that raw beauty long before they settle on one's appearance. The key is to not reject oneself before others will.

So much more later, sorrry I have to go for now,

Ciao,

David

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That's awful David. Both stories. And that sort of attitude has never been acceptable at all and you especially don't expect it to still happen in this day. I always find people's stories of such ignorance so hard to comprehend.

I think I have made a tiny step today....albeit very tiny compared to some people. I had to make a doctors appointment about my shoulder pain. And different doctor to normal....so pleased. I am being tested for Lupus and I managed to mention that I experience very low moods and was this connected. I didn't make a big deal out of it as I felt I might cry but it was a step. And it gives me a base to start from. I don't know if anyone knows much about Lupus and depression. Although of course this may not be what I have.

I also spoke to a women briefly on the way back about the weather and we had a laugh. So that was a second step. I do feel a bit like I want to cry now because it somehow felt a bit overwhelming but still pleased I did it. One bit at a time hey?

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personally i feel confidence is the sexiest thing about a woman and her mind you know intelligence, over everything, i wasnt always like that though i use to be a player back in high school i always had 4,5,6 girls from like 6thgrade till i was about 17, and hung out and was friends "literally" with everyone i've always had love for everyone long as i can remember just because everyone has something positive about em or thats how i use to view life from what i remember, and im sure im not the only one who feels and felt this way, but yea i came to realize that its not all about looks you know, im sure if you look at enough couples and pref. not those that you see on t.v. cuz thats not really a good example and not reality for most of us anyways "'I', like to think" anyways, cuz it makes me feel good about myself and life you know, and some of the people you probably look at and think are beautiful people because of there looks only, feel insecure about theirselves, but yea try not to focus on what you dont like about yourself because, I like everyoneelse has flaws by that i mean things they dont like about thereselves i just dont focus/look at or put much thought into those things i focus on my features i like, and as for being fat thats all just an opinion, weither you put much thought into it or not depends on you, but im glad to here you did lose some weight for health reasons, but most people your everyday women you know are by whatever its called overweight, but just because some people view it as that doesnt mean everyone thinks that me for example i love a healthy woman i dont know i look at smaller women and they look sick to me unhealthy gotta eat to survive you know, i've went through your pain to an extent i use to be 170lbs and 5'9" and i thought i was just the fattest person on earth and i developed a eating disorder/'s i was anorexic and bulemic i made myself puke from the start and quit eating altogether eventually and went down to 105lbs and stayed like that for about a month and couldnt lose anymore and now looking back at the pictures i took of myself then i looked sick as could be...yeah im sorry ive lost all train of thought on this one so im gonna stop here, gotta think positive, positive thoughts lead to positive feelings, so find a reason to tell yourself your beautiful, but like i said if you dont know where to begin start by finding the small things you like about yourself weither its one toe lol / your fingers, eyes, whatever and the rest will fall in place but just get up everymornin and tell yourself your beautiful and think of one reason why and then try to think of another, but one thing helped me overcome my weight issue was getting rid of the scales and mirrors in my house not that your worried about your weight that much anymore i think you said it was your face you wasnt that comf. with so try to avoid looking in the mirror not that that necc. works for everyone 'it just helped me' and well i can look at myself in the mirror confident as can be today and know im beautiful and sexy as can be lol or so 'i think' i dont really care what anyone else thinks you knon honestly, a positive anything is better than a negative nothing and i choose to ignore the negatives because the only thing a negative is good for is something negative, and well you know first hand that cuz you dont like the way you feel about yourself and there fore shouldnt feel that way and have the right, freedom, & will not to...but yea im not a professional anything in anyway, i just thought id share my personal thoughts with you in hopes that you would find enlightment in something i said that can help in some way in overcoming your problem, ever wanna talk im here to listen and try to help you, because i care and i like you even though i dont know anything but one problem your having or have never seen you because i can relate to you in some way, and that makes you beautiful in my eyes.

i also wanted to add after re-reading your post: you said you was bullied about being fat, why would you care about what they think, all they did was try to make you feel bad about yourself, weither they realized it or not for whatever twisted reason they had, so ***** them you know, and yea thats how i feel and look at things today, but keep in mind i use look at things how you do/did, but yea guess im really just tryin say that you'll overcome this, and, and believe me looks isnt everything, too 'most' everyone, "i know" & i dont just think that you know ;)....also have you ever thought someone was beautiful, hott, sexy whatever and found out that someone else didnt feel the same way about that person as you, but point im tryin get across there is that everyone finds something beautiful, sexy, ect. different than someone else, you kno, and yea lol like i said before i like bigger women, and some ppl i've known you know they jokingly 'try' make fun of me(because you know we dont see things the same way but thats ok we can still be friends & civil, i dont hate those ppl because we dont see things same way), but i dont give a s**t you know, i am who i am and like what i like and thats all i can be and do...im done this is too much...but yea hope you get what im sayin really though.

Edited by LostSouls

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Thank you for your comments. I have heard it said before about confidence. I've tried to "fake it" ...with the theory being you come to believe it. But it's never really worked for me. And I've also tried concentrating on the good things and telling myself its not so bad. But that nasty little voice that lives in my head is always a bit louder than the good thoughts. It's a tough battle. I always think it makes me sound so shallow and there are much worse things to happen. But it is also shallow that society places so much on looks and that makes it all seem so unfair.

And it's about being lonely. I am very lonely and have too much time to obsess over such things.

And I know I shouldnt care what other people think but again the very fabric of society is to be accepted by others and we all want to be loved and found attractive.

I think I can still be quite sensible though. I would LOVE to have surgery but I do know that being a more psychological problem I would just find something else to obsess and worry about if I "fixed" my face (plus I couldn't afford it anyway!!)

I'm glad you got through your eating disorder. And it's nice to hear the point of view of someone who has come through something and got out the other side. I'm just not sure where to start. I have good days and bad days.

What always amazes me is how the slightest tiniest thing can send me down after a relatively good mood.

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Hi Calla, I am so sorry you are feeling like that. It seems PTSD is playing a role and I would like to ask if you have received any type of counseling? Any type of counseling or is there a womens program in your area you can join? DBT therapy is also a good type of therapy and also womens trauma support groups. These can be beneficial and it is a place to find acceptance. It's ok to not be perfect, but if someone feels bad about themselves, then that is how others will treat you. Try to find the goodness in yourself and start by focusing on those. The people who judge us by our looks aren't even worth our time.... step by step, good luck ;)

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Thank you for your reply. I'm not really up to speed with all the things involved. I had to look up PTSD. Do you think that is from bullying at school? It is amazing what an effect such a thing can have and I wish children could somehow be made aware of that. I know kids will be kids but it stays with you.

I'm not sure what DBT therapy involves. I haven't had any counselling and I'm not sure how to get it. I can't tell my doctor about this, I'm too embarrassed and I'm not sure I can afford to pay for it privately.

I don't think Britain is as good as other countries when it comes to this sort of thing. With a sad lack of support groups.....unless there are more than I know about...especially if you are outside of London.

I do try and see the good in myself. Its the not ever having anyone else to validate that. I've never been very popular. But then maybe it's because I am so negative! It's a vicious circle I guess. But I am trying to put things in perspective.

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And I've also tried concentrating on the good things and telling myself its not so bad. But that nasty little voice that lives in my head is always a bit louder than the good thoughts.

Where do you think your critical voice and its negative thoughts might originate from, Calla?

It's a tough battle. I always think it makes me sound so shallow and there are much worse things to happen. But it is also shallow that society places so much on looks and that makes it all seem so unfair.

Try not to minimize your feelings, Calla. If it's hurting you, then it is important, don't you think? I agree about society and don't like commercialism and the emphasis placed on appearance either. Do you think the way you feel inside might play some part about the feelings you have about your appearance?

And I know I shouldnt care what other people think but again the very fabric of society is to be accepted by others and we all want to be loved and found attractive.

I think it becomes much easier to feel accepted by others once we are able to accept ourselves. You have to truly believe you are deserving of it to allow it.

I think I can still be quite sensible though. I would LOVE to have surgery but I do know that being a more psychological problem I would just find something else to obsess and worry about if I "fixed" my face (plus I couldn't afford it anyway!!)

I have a strong feeling that your face is beautiful just as it is simply because it's your face. Once you are able to feel inside that you are worthy of love and acceptance you may find yourself appreciating all that is you.

I hope that you feel better, Calla.

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my only other advice that i can give you right now because well i cant think/focus really is, if you feel(currently anyways) that you cant be happy & secure for you be happy and secure for other people who may look &/or feel like you, and just know if you search for an answer long enough you'll eventually find it, its only a matter of time and effort and i promise you that, but yea i can remember being insecure about my weight and looks and seein people who was way way bigger than me just being happy and carefree and doing what they wanted and enjoying life to the fullest and going out clubbing ect. and i couldnt understand it at the time, but i thought about it often infact it became an obsession to learn the answer to this very positive question that i knew deep inside of me that would make me feel better and happy and would affect me in so many positive ways if i just found out the answer too it, so i searched and looked and eventually i found out the answer the right answer and i know its the right answer because it made me feel so wonderful and deal with and accept and conquer my problems, i would tell you the answer but i know from experience its easier to realize things on our own sometimes than to be told....read and think hard about what i just said and find the "one right question" you'll know when its the right question cuz u know it'll make you feel so much better inside and out it may be the same question as i too pursued i dont know but when you find it you look for the answer and dont stop till you find it....one luv...wanna talk some more just let me know.

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