“I used to think I was ugly”

Like probably many of you, I saw the recent video of singer Pink winning an award at the VMA awards and sharing an intimate story about her daughter. Her daughter had told her how she looked like a boy and felt ugly. I loved the sweet manner in which she shared with both her daughter and the audience, the importance of Being You. Accepting yourself and your own beauty. How your looks will not stop you from being who you are. From being the successful you. And I thought: ‘What a lovely role model to have for a mother. What a lovely role model for us all’. The role model for every little girl who once thought that she was ugly.

This little girl has been me. I too have been that girl who so needed to hear those words about Being You, beautiful and awesome.

Pink, daughter Willow and husband Carey Hart – Editorial credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

The banter

By now, I can look back and understand how our bodies develop. And how when it is developing, new features are coming out. Sometimes changing our entire look.

Some may call it child’s play or general banter, when during that process, comments are made that might include: “Well, you are skinny”, “You are tall”, “You are ugly” and then followed by laughter. Laughter is supposed to mean that we should take such comments in “jest”. Not take it too seriously, too personally, or to heart if someone teased you.

But let’s face it that is rubbish when people are picking out a trait or feature. We all have feelings. I am a firm believer that within every joke lies a core of ‘truth’. There is an honesty about someone’s opinion in there. Whether it is actually true is subjective.

 

Looks apportioning great value

I grew up seeing how beauty was used as a measurement of value. How it was a blessing to be graced with beauty. For example having long hair as opposed to short hair, as it was your crowning glory, especially if you were a girl. My hair did grow very well but due to the texture, it curled and could shrink, especially if it was touched by water. I would cry if my hair was cut short, as I would associate that with my beauty.

At home, there would be banter about beauty and looks. There was the reference to that tale of the ugly duckling that had blossomed into a beautiful swan. It was the other way round with me. My parents would say how I was a gorgeous baby but how I was different now. At this stage, my body and features were changing. I took this to be, “Well you used to be beautiful but not anymore”.

So, for the longest time, I thought of myself as being ugly. I was also tall for my age and was slim. Yes, young people can be great teasers. I was often teased about my height.

At school, it was highlighted, even by a teacher, how it was nice to be tall. It was positive. How models were usually tall and slim and looked at as being beauties. So another belief that I also held onto was how me being slim made me desirable. Guess what happened when my body shape changed? I had a crisis of confidence, especially when an uncle commented: “What happened to you? Both you and ‘X’ were the pretty ones?” He was referring to how I had put on weight after attending University. Yes, my body did change and I had been eating unhealthy meals. Later on, I did lose the weight, slowly, but it stuck with me that I could not get fat, as I would be considered ugly. It was not until my early thirties that I started to have a new approach to beauty. Accepting myself wholly whatever shape or size I was.

You are what you believe yourself to be – feeling sexy and beautiful

Feeling confident, comfortable and at ease in Amsterdam. My inner beauty light shining through.

I’ll never forget reading the opening of Pam Grout’s E-squared book where she shared how she perceived her self to be when she was younger. There was mention of her curly hair and chubbiness. The ending to that was amazing, and shared how now she saw this beautiful woman looking back at her.

I could relate to this story, especially when I looked back at my photographs where I had grown from the once awkward and unconfident teenager. The one who was tall, slim and had slightly bigger feet than her peers.

Looking at those pictures now, I think I look so nice and pretty, but there is something missing there. My light coming through, that radiates my inner beauty. It was there all the time, just not visible yet.

It was a journey, it did not happen overnight. Part of it began when I realized I had not been kind to myself. Kindness can be misinterpreted in everyday society. I was not surprised with some of the initial feedback that I received when I posed a question in my Age of Honesty Community recently, asking: ‘What does being kind mean to you in your everyday life?’ There was an emphasis on being kind to the others around us, almost forgetting about being kind to ourselves.

Kindness is one of the essential acts of love. To start, I needed to connect with the love I have for myself, a connection that had been lacking. This was manifesting in my self-perceptions. How I viewed my outer self and not truly seeing the beauty within. It has not been easy. But I have gotten there. And today the brand I have created; LoveHappyBody, is about accessing your Being and inner beauty; about not being ashamed of your beauty and sensuality.

 

How do you connect with your inner beauty:

  1. It starts with loving yourself first. It is difficult to love others if you do not love your Self first and don’t like or see your inner beauty. From this place, you can begin to be kind to yourself.
  2. Purchase a note book, or create an electronic one and name it, “I am beautiful”.
  3. Look at all of yourself. Start looking at your different features. Write down the stuff you like about yourself on one side of the page. Then on the other side name the things that you are not confident about. On the side where you list your favourite features, write down what you like about them. On the other side of the page, looking at your least favourite features, describe why you are thankful for them anyway. I would like to invite you to practice being kind. For example, I may say about my feet: “They have made it possible to visit many different places and carried me whilst I enjoyed some amazing experiences”. Get into the habit of loving all of you: Even what you may consider a “wart”.
  4. Connect to your inner God/Goddess. Sex is a potent force. Connect to the power of it. The energy. It is a combination of body confidence as well as self-confidence. This is very sexy and attractive to your potential partner. You will be amazed how what you may consider being an undesirable feature can, in fact, be a turn-on. Or your lover may not see what you consider to be undesirable the way you do at all. You may think your bum is big, like a shelf. However, with the rise and notoriety of the Kardashians and before that Jennifer Lopez, it is, in fact for many men, a turn-on. The same goes for a man who may think one of his features is unattractive, but can be seen as gorgeous by women.

    Bringing out my sensual diva – Photographer Elin Robinson

  5. Feel comfortable with touching yourself. Yes, I am talking about pleasuring yourself. It is a natural act. If you do not feel comfortable due to beliefs and faith then do not practice, but it will help with step 3, connecting with your inner God/Goddess.
  6. Make a date at least once a month to pamper yourself. This could be having a massage, going for a facial or even doing-it-yourself from the comfort of your home. Remember ‘Being Kind’?
  7. Eat well and look after your body. Learn to listen to it. This includes taking note of how your body reacts to specific foods. Is it causing a reaction? Making you feel like your energy has been sapped? Worship this body that you were born in. Spend time of focusing on your favourite attribute. Maybe giving your feet a pedicure.
  8. Write down a list of your personal attributes that make you awesome. Of those things that you have accomplished with that body and mind of yours. Ask yourself: ‘Have my body and looks prevented me from achieving my goals? Achieving my life wins? Prevented me from building and developing relationships?” Beauty starts from within.
  9. Recount the times that people have asked you out on dates, paid you a compliment about your features. Perhaps also write those comments down in the “I am beautiful” note book. Remember that you are the one who needs to see your beauty first, and the way people respond to you is a projection. Not a validation that you are beautiful.
  10. Accept that there are going to be days where you are not going to be feeling your sexy, awesome, and beautiful self. I get these days too. Sometimes it is during my period. And I know something here: “It will pass”.

 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – the world view

Beauty is subjective. Just like art, someone is going to have his or her own interpretation of beauty. One guy may be a “breasts man” whilst another guy may be more of a “bum person”. Just as some women like beards and others don’t. As mentioned before confidence and how you carry yourself is an attractive quality. Look at certain celebrities, who have the “X-factor”. The French actor Vincent Cassel may be seen to one person as being villain-like, like some of the dark characters that he has played; whereas to another person, he can be devilishly handsome. However one views him, the fact is he is currently dating another model after being married a number of years to what some people describe as the most beautiful woman on earth.

In this Western World, yes, it can be hard to not get caught up sometimes in a distorted view of beauty. But you need to question whose view is it. Is it a fixture of social conditioning? A fashion trend? And we know what happens with fashion: it is feeble. True beauty lies in emanating the feel-good. Projecting and being at ease and comfort with yourself. Being damn comfortable with who you are, not striving to be an image that may have been “airbrushed”.

“Be sexy, be awesome, be happy and be you. And screw those images that tell you otherwise”.

Unpolished, no make-up, no filter selfie – Just being me

 

Being carefree and in the moment – no filter – Photo taken by friend Martine Sanders

I love this photo with my fellow writer friend, India Ameye. Yes, the humidity got to my hair

Question: Were you once the ugly duckling? How did you sprout into the Swan – the best version of you? I love to hear your thoughts.

6 replies
  1. Ariaa Jaeger
    Ariaa Jaeger says:

    WOW what a wonderful article and the pictures are captivating. You are beautiful and have always been so in my eyes. The outer is such a reflection of your wise, kind and playful spirit and I love watching you grow into your skin. Thanks for sharing your story. Blessings and love, Ariaa

    Reply
    • Sophia
      Sophia says:

      Thank you, Ibrahim. Yes, a part of my inspiration for sharing this story is to relate to people who have experienced insecurities and doubt about themselves at any point.

      Reply
  2. Roger A Burnley
    Roger A Burnley says:

    The experience of looking back at an old high school graduation picture and seeing that I was actually an okay looking person but remembering I didn’t feel that way at the time, showed me how judgmental I was of myself.

    Reply
    • Sophia
      Sophia says:

      Hello Roger,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, we can be hard on ourselves instead of being more loving and gentle. I know a lot of people who can relate to that comment of seeing how there was always beauty there.

      Reply

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