1. Tempered Ashes says

    My physical appearance has affected who I have become by the following:

    1. It has disclosed that I am no longer worthy;
    2. It has told me, over and over again, that I cannot do anything;
    3. It has screamed at me and chanted “ugly” as if it were in glee;
    and, finally,
    4. It has let me down.

    Now I want my physical appearance to stop screaming at me.
    I want her to settle down
    I want her to dream
    I want her to tell me that all of the lies were not true
    I want her not to fail me again

    I’m really really mad at my physical appearance. She acted as though she knew everything even though she did not. She acted as though her world was perfect even though it was/is not. She couldn’t wait to make her mark, only to fall into a ditch and never even surface for nearly 10 years. Now she’s mad. She’s mad at me b/c I’ve lashed out at her. I’ve been so angry at my physical appearance, that now I’ve “let her down.” I’ve told her to shut up, to go away, and to never come back. I’ve told her to back down, to sit tight, to never move again. And do you know why I did this? Because I hate her! I really really hate her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She betrayed me once and she will never betray me again. She put me in a prison, locked the door and threw away the key. She made me get hurt. She HURT ME!! (and I never even did anything to her)(!!) Well-!! ha ha–I sure showed her!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (now, for the past 10 years, I’ve locked HER in the dungeon and thrown away the key!!) ha ha physical appearance: what do you have to say to me now????? and here’s what she says:
    I’m sorry.
    I’m so so sorry. I didn’t know that I had done that to you. I didn’t know that you blamed me even though it wasn’t my fault.. I just didn’t know.. so then I scream to her:
    Yes you did! You knew full well what you were doing!!! Wearing those cute little shorts and half-shirts as a little girl!!!!!!! Parading around in the summer like a hooker on weed!!!!!!!!!! and–only 8 years old!!!! (what a “slut” you were, you little piece of sh**!! YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER!! Do you think we live in a convent!! Do you think the whole world is pure and prious and actually cares about some dumb little girl (and protecting her virginity!!) Are you ever going to let go???
    what do you mean let go?
    what the f*** are you freakin’ talkin’ ’bout–let go,,ha, as usual lil’ girl you aint’s gots two bis a sens in yas!!
    ha ya ‘gain suckas, got ya ‘gain
    let her go, i beg of you
    PLEASE let me go


  2. Fran Stekoll says

    I have always tried to encourage those in my outer world to look inside before
    judging another person. My physical appearance isn’t who I am. My soul tells
    my story. Therefor I smile quite a bit. I’ve found that when I do that, others
    smile back. I’ve been thin, I’ve been fat, Maybe I’m ignorant; but I don’t think
    one should be judged by appearance only. It’s the same as “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” My “Wisdom Bumps” verse for this is:”I’m quite a surprise
    behind this disguise, It’s a hard task Peeking out through my mask.
    Unfortunately people do judge others by appearance. Real People are able
    to check within. When others criticize me “Wisdom Bumps” Finding faults
    with friends? Try compliments and praise; Soon you will discover A change in both your ways. Another is: Pointing the finger in the other direction, is less painful than towards your own mid-section! Maybe I’m not in the real
    world; but I choose to believe my philosophy.

  3. Christy Curtis says

    When I was younger my looks were somewhat important to me not as important as my very lovely younger Sister were to hers but important. I never went out of the house without clean hair & clothes.
    Then I had a child late in life, 30, just getting the cranky, impatient baby out of the house for his doctor appointments was all I could do! Sometimes my hair wasn’t as clean as I had wished nor my clothes as it never failed, babies are insidious little creatures, who wait to spit up on you the minute you carry them out the front door. I used to joke my perfume died trying to battle the stink of regurgitated milk. Eventually you don’t wear perfume & wear an outer shirt over your good shirt for just this reason!
    I’m thankful I got to observe how society treats those of us who are beautiful as in my Sister. Because she is pretty no one thought she could be smart or funny.
    Thankfully I have always been OK in my own skin. I have a birth defect that is very noticeable twisted spine or scoliosis. Always having this glaring deformity I learned early on to avoid people who couldn’t accept me no matter how I looked.

  4. Rebecca Hudson says

    Appearance isn’t only about the structure of my face; it’s about the way I act. My action’s depends on how I look in front of people, the right attitude, respect, patience, and self-control. My good attitude shows who I am and who I have become, acting in a polite manner gives me respect and I give respect back. I only respect people who are worth respecting; I respect people who respect me. Patience can say a lot about a person, I didn’t use to be very patient with others, things, and myself. I would get angry, but I’ve learned that waiting will be all worth it in the end. Self-control isn’t only on the inside but on the outside. I can control myself when I get angry, I don’t yell, curse, and or say stuff I don’t mean.
    I use to think I was ugly, kids would make fun of me back in middle school; even my friends. I remember one of my friends would always apply make-up on my face and fix my hair all pretty. Once the years passed, I looked in the mirror more and realized that I had gotten pretty or maybe I was always pretty, I just kept the thoughts that the people said I was ugly repeat over and over in my head, as if little demons were screaming words through my ear and out the other. Once I got in high school, it was a new school and my thoughts about my looks had changed. I thought I was pretty and people said I was, that build up my self-esteem and made me confident about my looks. I do apply make-up every once in a while, only when it feels like I am ugly or I want to experiment with the art of make-up. I only apply make-up on my eyes, it brightens my eyes. I own over 180 eye shadows, some mascara and different color eye liner; black, blue, purple, and green.

    It wasn’t very exciting hearing negative comments about my looks and body, people still do it. I use to be really insecure about my body, I am really skinny. I know I’m not the prettiest girl in the world or the girl with the nicest body. My features aren’t perfect to others; it’s only perfect in God’s eyes. Every part of my structures has flaws. When it comes down to people saying stuff like that to me, my heart becomes weak and my spirit gets frail. People have no idea how it makes me feel. I mostly wear jeans, but when it takes guts for me to show my legs during the summer; I’m always paranoid about a stranger making fun of me. Most guys, not saying all guys, but most guys just want a girl for the looks and depending on the size. I’m glad I have someone who sees me as a beautiful woman with a nice body in his eyes. I can’t help myself with this, I can’t control it. I have a high metabolism. I was born weighing in at 5 pounds, 5 ounces. I came into the world like this. This just didn’t randomly happen out of nowhere. Therefore, God created my looks; He took His time to put all His might and took every power of His to be careful to add every little detail of my structures to the features of my face and body to make me how He wanted me to look. Every time someone makes a negative comment about my body or looks, I’ll look at them dead in the eyes and say “God created me like this. I may not be the prettiest girl, but I am the prettiest girl in God’s eyes. In fact, He sees us all the same. He thinks we’re all beautiful, on the inside and outside and it’s what’s on the inside that counts.” Girls, don’t be ashamed about how you look, God created your looks, He would want us to see ourselves as the most beautiful women in our own way.

    Beauty is skin deep but ugly is to the bone. In my opinion, it all depends on your actions and how you treat yourself and others. A person can be really sweet but on the inside, they’re evil and mischievous. Ugly to be bone can be people who disrespect others and themselves, a terrible attitude, no patience and no self-control. It can be people who are liars, thieves, backstabbers, two-faces, and who try to bring others down just because they have no confidence with a low self-esteem.

  5. Ilana says

    Tall order, Laura. I really struggled with this one and had to look at some pretty “ugly” stuff. Thanks for making me stretch and again, thank you for giving me a safe place to share. Well, here goes nothing.


    At 8:17am on a Saturday morning in late April of 1974 a baby girl was born.
    Her mother counted ten little fingers and ten little toes. She was a perfect baby girl, a pretty little thing but then aren’t all baby girls pretty?
    I didn’t get to stay perfect or pretty for very long. Growing up in my family was, how shall I put it? Complicated. It was like white water rafting when you can’t see the turbulent water until after you hit it.

    Mixed messages were always the flavor of the week.
    “Feelings aren’t good or bad they just are.” Just don’t complain if you’re unhappy.
    “I love you and will always protect you.” Except from your older brother; if he hurts you it is your own fault. So don’t set him off. Step around. And don’t make waves.
    “You are beautiful and precious and special.” But don’t you ever let that go to your head. Don’t go around thinking you are pretty.
    A child wants to feel that the world is a just and safe place. Sometimes she wants that so badly that she’ll turn any evidence to the contrary on herself.
    “I deserve to be hurt by my brother.” That is why my parents allow it.
    “I am ugly, dirty, disgusting and awkward.” That is why I don’t fit in at school.

    You asked me how my physical appearance has affected who I have become. The answer is, it hasn’t. I don’t think I’ve ever known how I physically appear to others at all. My view of myself has always been distorted.

    However, my perception of my physical appearance has shaped my life to this very day.
    -I was too anxious to eat and so I was painfully thin. Others claimed I was anorexic. How can that be? I don’t think I’m fat.
    I was “ugly skinny”, flat chested, straight line, asexual.
    -My hair was stringy, my clothes hung on me. I was tiny, awkward and shy.

    When my husband told me I was beautiful I knew I still had him fooled.
    When I gave birth to my children I went from being “ugly skinny” to fat.
    Then one day it happened. I looked at my second daughter who had always been my spitting image. “She’s gorgeous.” I realized, stunned, and confused. “How is that possible?” “Because you are beautiful, Ilana. And there is nothing wrong with that.” My husband responded.
    ‘Nobody knows.’ I whispered to myself. ‘Nobody knows how truly ugly I am.’

    “Ugly” is a big word for me. Whenever I think of something that makes me feel scared, or ashamed, or embarrassed I involuntarily whisper to myself “Don’t be ugly.” And for a brief second that relieves some of my anxiety. “Ugliness” is the word I have given to all the bad things I believe about myself. I absorb the ugliness. I contain it and hide it so that no one else can see. I can feel it swimming around inside of me, poisoning me, making me sick, weak and uglier. That is the price I pay to keep it hidden from the outside world. It is worth that heavy price because nothing would be worse than other people seeing my “ugliness.”

    To combat that “ugliness” my friends, my children and my husband have given me the most beautiful weapon in the world. That weapon is hope.

    One day, many years from now, that perfect baby girl will close her eyes for the last time and her life will be over. I hope that before then the day will come when I’ll look in the mirror and see what is truly there. I dream that what I will see will have nothing to do with “ugliness.”

    • Debbie Owen says

      Ilana – your story was powerful and that last paragraph really touched me. I think I have the same hope about what the mirror with show. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Debbie Owen says

    I still remember like it was yesterday. Each morning I would throw back the covers, make a mad dash to the bathroom, flick on the light and shyly look into the mirror. Today, will I look like Cheryl Tiegs, the all American supermodel? And each morning, I would stare disappointed at my limp, stringy hair, big nose, crooked teeth and thin lips in disappointment. Nope, not today. Maybe tomorrow.

    The second memory is just as clear – the day I decided it would never happen. I would never, ever look even remotely as beautiful as Cheryl Tiegs. So, I pragmatically decided, if I wasn’t going to be pretty, I had better be smart instead. From that day forward, I have never believed I was attractive or had much to offer in the physical looks department. Looking back now, I was wrong. In the old pictures I see a shy, insecure teenager with a cute figure, clear skin, pretty eyes and soft, blond hair. Yet the internal picture of myself was much harsher, less attractive and completely undesirable.

    So I was easily seduced by someone else’s compliments, the special attention and proclamations of my desirability. That shy, insecure teenager was ripe for the clever manipulations of the older, more experienced man who wanted a “trophy” as his middle age status symbol. I thought it was to please him that I would endlessly try to make my fine hair curl, or wear the slightly too tight evening dress or have that extra cocktail to make conversation with his friends a little easier.

    I was naïve, and very young. That night the stranger’s hands strayed beyond friendly touches, I looked to my husband for chivalrous protection. What I saw instead was the first glimpse into the darkness of his soul. This is what he wanted to happen. He honestly believed I belonged to him in the style of a possession you could loan out to others. It got worse from there.

    I was trapped. Or at least that is what I believed for the next few years. I had no economic resources and had fallen completely under the spell he wove around me. No one would ever love me like him. No one would ever take care of me like him. I would be nothing without him.

    In an act of desperation and survival, I started to eat. Somewhere in my befuddled brain, there was something passing for logic that said “If you are not attractive to them, they will leave you alone.” It was the only way I could find to fight back. And it kind of worked. As I gained weight, there were less suggestions to wear slinky, seductive clothes. There were less public appearances and social outings. It all went private after that. My transgression, this pitiful attempt at willfulness had to be punished less it go too far. And I continued to eat – now for comfort as well as protection.

    But I survived. After the divorce, I actually lost almost all of the weight I had gained over the last years of my marriage. I was coming back to life, active, engaged and enjoying a sense of freedom I had never had before. Food was so much less important and I found comfort in other vices instead. I thought I had not only survived but won.

    Inside my soul, though, was the terrified young woman who became instantly uncomfortable with any attention directed her way for anything other than demonstrations of mental prowess. A compliment on my physical appearance could send me into a full blown panic – calmed, or course, by food or any of the vices that could drown out the voices, stop the movies from the past.

    So I shouldn’t have been surprised that the weight came creeping back. Even in the arms of my loving life partner, I could not be present. I never felt normal. I needed help, a crutch, to “perform” my role. And that is how is always felt; like a performance where I had to anesthetize the stage fright to deliver my part in the play. Over the years, the pounds slowly built up. What was once my protection became my prison.

    Here I stand today. My life driven by the tyranny of beauty, or at least sexual desire. My soul shattered by the abuse. My voice silent with shame. I still stare at the mirror. Now trying to reconcile what I see, a surreal image of an overweight, middle age woman, with image I hold inside.

    I may yet have tears to cry over the past but don’t cry for me. I have evolved. This life has given me insights into the wounds of others and birthed a creed of kindness. I am bruised but it helps me to understand other’s pain. And it taught me I can survive the unthinkable, maybe not undamaged, but still able to serve others.

    I am convinced my weight has hung around to teach me something I have not yet learned. And when that knowing is released within me, I won’t need the old armor anymore. And somehow, this writing community, this sharing is part of the journey.

    • Ilana says

      Debbie- It’s beautiful. I love the way you take us on your journey from the beginning, rather than fill us in on what we missed. I have come to look forward to your posts and your comments. You always make me think. Thank you for that!

    • Andrea Jones says

      Wow – you are so brave. I feel so blessed to know you and appreciative that you are fearless enough to share with us. You give me courage.

      • Debbie O says

        Your comment makes me want to share a quote that I will mess up I am sure but it goes kinda like this: “Courage is not being afraid. That is not courage but foolishness. Courage is being afraid and pushing forth anyway.” It is clear from the response to Laura’s prompt that there are a lot of courageous women in this community!

        • Ilana says

          I’ll second that. She really threw a tough one at us this time. I find all of your courage very comforting and it helps me to feel less alone.

  7. Linda says

    My appearance has greatly affected who I am. It has helped me to shape my personality into the person I show to the world. It has gotten me jobs, friends, and men.
    Beneath my make-up, I am plain. You would not notice me as you passed me on the street. But given the fact that I must compete with my sisters, with the world, I hide behind a great deal of make-up, which makes me look very attractive. Men stare. Women envy. But it is fake. I almost convince myself the face staring back to me is real, until it washes away. And then I am blank. My pretense is gone. It’s just me. But when it’s on, I must behave a certain way: I am kind, I am sweet, I am submissive in my gentleness, so as not to be a beautiful bitch.
    But once it washes away, I am invisible again, and I go back to not counting.

    • Ilana says

      Linda- It clearly took a lot of courage to write this. I can’t see your make-up but I can see your beauty. And it is very real. Thank you so much for sharing.

  8. says

    thank you all for your sharing. I’m engrossed at present preparing for holidays and my son returning from college. haven’t been able to visit the blog as much as usual. but I love your posts….and your courage! keep coming back.

  9. Bobbie Anne says

    Ladies, you are beautiful in God’s eyes! We need to know that we are lovely and look great to the people who love us. I went to my sister’s for Christmas. She is in her early forties. She gave her daughter a blond- haired barbie in tank top and “skinny jeans”. Looking at the doll, I wondered what message was she sending? I said that she could be a model or an dancer, referring to the doll. My sister said why couldn’t her daughter be an engineer or teacher? Indeed, she could have bought the dark-haired “teacher” barbie or the “doctor” barbie. They have been around for sometime now- although not when I was a child. I remember that I used my imagination. I designed clothes for my doll and put on plays. My sister did remind me that if Barbie was a person, her proportions would be unrealistic and not possible for a healthy woman. Good for her. However, she missed the boat when she proudly told me that she fit into her 9 year olds jeans. That is so sad. How can a woman fit in child size jeans? And the child is thin.

    While my sister cooks a lot for family and friends, I wonder if she is eating a lot. Or starving herself She cannot live on a liquid diet. If she wants to be there for her daughter she needs to eat. The pressure that she feels she has, both real and imagined, is scary in that she is passing on this image that thin is in. She said her daughter sees her friends and tells her mother she is fat. She isn’t. And so the cycle continues.

    • perspicacityscw says

      hi bobbie anne. the doll brings back a lot of memories. my kids are of color. i was “prepared” when i adopted them. i bought the dark skinned doll for my little one. i had, in fact, my own when i was a child, so it wasn’t a big issue for me. our entire home was very ethnic and not what one would deem as “white”. my child, however, wanted the blonde doll. but, my friend’s blonde child wanted the dark skinned doll. there was a G-d! i gave up:) as long as my kid was the doll’s mom, all was well and not all that different from me being her mom.

      in retrospect, i should have told both the girls that both the dolls went to college!

      my eldest toyed with eating issues. she discovered it all on mtv and wanted to be “normal”. fortunately, it did not last. but, for the short duration, it was a nightmare as she found many things to emulate. it takes a village to raise today’s kids. i am sure your voice will be part of your niece’s village. i have learned that a little sense of humor goes a long way, when they start being teens.

  10. perspicacityscw says

    i went from ugly duckling and being teased to suddenly doing some modeling in my early teens. i thank G-d, i was born a long time ago. because there is no doubt in my mind, that i would have been cyber stalked by the accepted kids at school. they seem to pick up on a kid that does not have it right at home. they prey on that, unless she or he can figure out how to play that game. for me, it simply was not in my vocabulary. i marched to the tune of a different drummer, i was told much later in life when looking back.

    it was at that point of my modeling and kids looking at me in a different way, that i lost myself inside. but, at the same time, was grateful for the shell. i knew it was makeup, an image, a bit of a game and really not all that. but, i was not “at one” with it. it was still me inside. deep deep inside. hiding.

    i was “always” different though and feeling that…not having a brother…having a crazy father….et al…i just did not know really how to relate to men or be one of the girly girls, until i found my career and suddenly was deemed “leader”. that formed a second line of defense. i addicted to my work.

    at the onset of my second marriage with ten years in between the two, which i deemed my “self development hiatus”, i became very ill.

    not sure how it happened but i somehow managed to avoid looking at my body. it started to grow round and very very frumpy. being tall, i stood out. i felt as if i moved out of my body, to where, i have no clue looking back.

    clothes were hard to find. mostly i needed to cover things up. i pretty much lost myself. the teens i adopted were raging, i was sicker and sicker, my marriage was a nightmare. i was fighting constantly for the kids in courts.

    then, in the midst of it all, the divorce granted me asylum. it was heavenly. even the kids became more manageable and when not, i was able to detach. i had read all the literature, but talking about detaching and actually detaching are two very different things. i put the focus on myself and to do that i needed a self.

    slowly i peeled off the weight. slowly i started to once again really look at the mirror. slowly clothes started to fit. i stopped covering up. in my 60’s i looked better than when i was 50. my labels expanded. i pulled them out and wore them as needed. i did not need them personally.

    i had dealt with a lot of things in my life, but not really focused on looks. just used them, when i had them. but, all was not “integrated” and suddenly it seemed, it was.

    now for the first time, all of me is coming together and evolving in an integrated manner. i can look good or bad on any given day and the man in my life seems not to care. both of us are givers. it feels good to take and know it well intended and not a chore to give to me.

    it is on a day like this, when i am physically hurting from my disability and up late at nite “thinking”, that i can look into the mirror, no makeup, a bit messy, perhaps fatigued and yet somehow still feel pretty.

    on a good day, i get dressed up, feel good, go dancing, get flirty, laugh. dancing for me, is the energy that somehow kept me together as my work (on me) was in progress. everyone should dance. it is a way to find one’s mojo and to both look good and to feel good. it’s about the energy, not about the makeup. but yes, the makeup for me is still fun when i am up for it. might not be the politically correct thing to admit publicly. but, if it makes me happy, that is all that counts–as long as i am not counting on it to be me.

  11. Bobbie Anne says

    When you are good and kind, you are beautiful. When you are positive and uplifting, even in the face of trials and tribulations, you are beautiful. When you help another person or persons out, or live by the divine “Golden Rule” of “Do unto others as you would have done to you”, you are beautiful. Ladies, reading the comments on this subject, I must say that you and I are definately beautiful!

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