Dear little girl, you are not ugly.
I say this because currently, over 78 percent of American young girls think they are ugly. Over 78 percent of girls hate their physical appearance. Seventy-eight percent despise their own self-image. Seventy-eight percent are disgusted with themselves.
You know who you are. And you know how you feel about yourself.
You are bombarded with an onslaught of online images from a body-obsessed culture. Your sense of self-worth is sinking. You constantly compare yourself to the phony models you see on your phone screen.
Social media is full of such plasticized figures with impossibly tiny waists, pronounced cleavage, and enlarged assets.
And even though all these online images are fake, they make you feel unpretty. Unspecial. Unseen. You walk into a room of your peers and you feel less-than. You feel under-confident. Underloved. Under everything.
Maybe you feel overweight. Maybe you think you’re too skinny. Too tall. Too short. Maybe you think your hair is too curly. Too straight. Too stringy. Too thick. Too coarse. Maybe you have a particular physical feature you hate. Maybe it’s got you depressed.
Maybe you have complexion problems. Maybe you have acne. Maybe your teeth aren’t the way you want them to be.
Either way, you feel unbeautiful. Unlovely. Unattractive. Un-spectacular. Un-special. Uncool.
Oftentimes you see yourself in the mirror, or in photos, or in candid cellphone videos (God help us all), and you dislike what you see. Namely, because you’re comparing yourself to an image you’ve seen in a magazine, or on TV, or social media.
Over time, this distaste for yourself festers. Soon, you start to dislike yourself. Soon, it’s not just your appearance you hate, it’s the whole enchilada.
Is any of this ringing a bell?
I thought so.
Well, you aren’t alone. And it’s not much better for boys. According to research, 58 percent of boys dislike their bodies. What are we doing to our children?
Believe me I get it. I grew up chubby, with corkscrew-curly red hair, and an overbite that was not unlike a jack mule. I had legs that were unnaturally scrawny, and a midsection shaped like a blueberry muffin. I looked like a guy riding a chicken across the front yard.
I hated photos of myself. This was exacerbated, of course, because my mother would show Kodak baby-photographs to everyone who visited our home, including those who came to read our gas meter. Many of these photos depicted me as a plump, completely naked toddler. I still cringe at the ugliness in those photos.
But, keep in mind, I am a guy. Growing up is tough for guys, yes, but it’s harder for girls. Especially in today’s world.
Girls have it the worst.
So, whoever you are, I want you to know that you are not a photo. You are not a reflection. You are you. And that’s quite a different thing.
Photos are not the real you. Cellphone videos are not the real you. Instagram images are not the real you. Neither are complicated TikTok dance videos which require no coordination skills greater than moving your arms and shaking your Blessed Assurance.
The real you is way down inside. Deep beneath your sternum. Beneath your ribcage.
No surgeon could find the real you if they were to cut you open. There is no actual location in your body where the real you resides. The real you is invisible. The real you is your spirit.
Moreover, the real you has nothing to do with the size of your waist, or the shape of your nose. It has nothing to do with your clothes, or with your hair color.
The real you is deeper than that. The real you is that itty-bitty voice within your innermost being. The piece of your soul which has the ability to reason, to feel empathy, to exercise compassion.
I wonder if you truly know how amazing you are?
Out of all the mammals on earth, your species alone has the ability to speak, read, write, share ideas and conceptualize the future.
Which means you have the capacity to love. To give charity. To care. To help others. If you wanted to, you could change the whole world.
And maybe someday you will. Maybe someday you will transcend your own self-doubt, your own under-confidence, and realize that you are not an objectified female. You are so much more than your culture says you are.
You are a brain. You are a soul. You are a heart. You are yourself.
You are perfect, not because this sounds like a clever thing to say, but because God made you that way. You are so beautiful it hurts.
You are not ugly. And if you need to hear that today, darling…
Well, you just did.
stephenpe - May 10, 2023 12:02 pm
Wonderful story today. Our culture, in the pursuit of profit, will say and print anything to promote “beauty”. And causes all those things you wrote about. Now if we could just get all those young people to read this one.