I feel pretty... hideous
August 19, 2013 10:20 AM   Subscribe

How do you feel pretty on bad days?

Hey mefites, it is easy to feel pretty when you are perfectly done up and you are in a confident state of being. But what are your ways of feeling more fabulous and beautiful in your own skin on days when you have put on a crappy outfit but have already left your house and are stuck in it, or on 'bad days' when you just seem to see only what is ugly about yourself?
posted by dinosaurprincess to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (35 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Well, the chances that anyone will notice you looking different today than on other days are vanishingly small. This is all in your own head. So try to do things that make you feel good (eat healthy food, for example) and stop focusing on your ugly pants. I am sitting in an office next to a conference room full of 6 people right now, all of whom I watched walk in there ten minutes ago, and I couldn't tell you what any of them are wearing.
posted by something something at 10:27 AM on August 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Honestly? I put on dangly, sparkly earrings.
posted by thank you silence at 10:32 AM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

Compliment everybody you can. Nothing makes me feel better than making others feel good about themselves.
posted by xingcat at 10:32 AM on August 19, 2013 [16 favorites]

I counter thoughts like these by listing out the things I really do like about myself, which usually helps me regain quite a bit of my confidence. I also try to rationalize this sort of thinking by reminding myself that there is so much more to me than my appearance. My competence, kindness, and self-value haven't decreased one bit just because my brain is telling me that I'm "ugly" that day.
posted by singinginmychains at 10:33 AM on August 19, 2013

A while back I was reading an article about the rise of "dollar stores" in the US and how, for a lot of people, they are supplanting Wal-Mart as their go-to place for cheap groceries. One of the people interviewed in the article noted that she liked the dollar store particularly because she didn't have to get "dressed-up" to go there, unlike when she went to Wal-Mart. If you've been in a Wal-Mart lately, you know they can set a pretty low fashion bar.

My point here is that, after reading that article, my wife and I now comfort each other when we don't look our best by saying, "Well, it's not like you're going to Wal-Mart." Just accept that some days you aren't on point, and make a little joke of it with a friend or loved one, and pledge to try a little harder tomorrow. Like something something says, no one but you even notices anyway.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:35 AM on August 19, 2013 [15 favorites]

Could you maybe focus on feeling smart or tough instead of pretty? Pretty is powerful, but other things are powerful too.
posted by amtho at 10:38 AM on August 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

it is easy to feel pretty when you are perfectly done up

Well I don't find this to be true at all, so you're already a step ahead there!

I was going to say what amtho said: if it's too late for pretty, try to feel smart or well-informed or friendly or some other good quality that day. Some people are never pretty, yet they get by, because they have something else going for them.

Also on a purely practical level, if you put on a bad outfit or something, make a note so you don't repeat the mistake. Maybe it's a question of noticing a pattern where if you wear too-tight pants, or don't wash your hair in the morning, or [insert beauty faux pas here], you feel bad. So over time you learn not to do that anymore.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 10:43 AM on August 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Fancy panties. Wearing fancy panties always makes me have an at least slight better day. All day, every time I go to pee or poop I see my fancy panties and think about how my panties are fancy and make me feel a bit secretly fancy. No one is ugly or blah when you wear fancy panties! I often wear fancy panties when I am home sick for just this reason. Fancy panties make me feel happy and special.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:44 AM on August 19, 2013 [17 favorites]

Seconding the fancy underwear suggestion, and also: my current self-esteem-boosting strategy is to fill in my eyebrows (either with powder or with a brow pen or even a dark brown eyeliner pencil if I am feeling especially authoritative, then finish with a tinted brow gel or clear mascara to hold everything in place). Even when the rest of me is not remotely made up and I'm just wearing jeans and a t-shirt, having really arresting eyebrows makes me feel like a million bucks. I can glower at myself in the bathroom mirror at work for a quick pick-me-up. And it takes barely any time at all in the morning, which is great because frankly I would rather have the extra few minutes in bed or clicking aimlessly around the internet before I have to leave the house.
posted by bewilderbeast at 10:47 AM on August 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

Buy quality clothes - even if their ugly you know they are well made. Thrift stores are great for this. Or, try not to think about it. For example: I'm about to go to the mall for an eye exam. None of my clothes are "mall ready" because I rarely go there, so I'll just walk in and pretend no one notices. Stand up straight and do your thing.
posted by thylacine at 10:58 AM on August 19, 2013

I think that the perfectly coiffed, perfectly clad look is kind of overdone, actually. There's a point of diminishing returns that you hit pretty quickly, unless you are going on TV or to your own wedding. As long as you are clean, smell nice, are wearing reasonably good quality clothes and have brushed (or whatever) your hair, then you're most of the way there.

My personal standard is: Would a man care more about his appearance than I do right now? If not, then I probably look fine.
posted by carolinaherrera at 11:01 AM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

Fix your hair. I find that if my hair looks good, it's hard for me to feel ugly.
posted by caseofyou at 11:07 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I am having days like this, I like to give myself an attitude that I refer to as "fiercing my way through the day". I try to reframe my feeling as that I am exuding a level of beauty and fierceness from within, and I work to channel this to remind myself the whole day to project confidence. 9 times out of 10, this works really well for me to make it though the day.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 11:10 AM on August 19, 2013 [9 favorites]

My tactic for this is what I call "fiercing it out." Walk like a super model and pretend you are wearing that ill-fitting skirt and suddenly lumpy sweater on purpose. If you look like you believe it, other people will too.
posted by chatongriffes at 11:14 AM on August 19, 2013 [12 favorites]

If I'm feeling unattractive at work, somehow brushing my teeth, washing my face, and brushing my hair oftentimes makes me feel better. So keep toothpaste, a brush, and maybe even some face wash and lotion in a drawer at work.
posted by megancita at 11:19 AM on August 19, 2013

I am having one of those days. I don't think I noticed what I do until you asked:

I started walking around like my husband just complimented me on how great my ass looks. It's something he's done before, so I played a mental trick to boost my confidence by recalling it as if it had just happened this morning. The fake confidence worked, too: One of my workmates said I looked really great today, and had I lost weight? HAHA! Little did they know I spent the last two days eating beef tenderloin and chocolate!
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 11:21 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I work a version of 'fierce it out' but for me the key is - once I leave the house, I am done. I'm not allowed to criticize, touch or fidget with my hair, makeup or clothes. Especially on low self-esteem days, the more I fuss the worse I feel.

So, what's done is done. I'm fabulous because I say so, and I don't consult mirrors because I know better. Feeling hideous is the worst (and is virtually always a damned lie that depression is telling you.)

I hope this helps and you feel better.
posted by Space Kitty at 11:27 AM on August 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

My tactic for this is what I call "fiercing it out." Walk like a super model and pretend you are wearing that ill-fitting skirt and suddenly lumpy sweater on purpose. If you look like you believe it, other people will too.

YES! The walk always does it for me. Let the hips move, throw those shoulders back, and shift the weight to the balls of your feet like you've got four-inch heels on. There are two songs that instantly start The Walk for me: "Sweet Transvestite" from The Rocky Horror Show and RuPaul's "Cover Girl (Put the Bass in Your Walk)." I start one of them playing in my head and I'm good to go.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:29 AM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

I look in the mirror and try to see myself the way someone who really loved me and thought I was really beautiful would see me. It helps.
posted by whalebreath at 11:30 AM on August 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

I agree that well done hair is key to looking good. Shoulders back, head up is good advice also. Walk, sit, stand, like a confident person, and you will look like one.
posted by Cranberry at 11:31 AM on August 19, 2013

Do you have a space at work where you can keep a Feel Better Emergency Kit? I keep a drawer at work just for this purpose. Inside: a selection of hair doodads, samples of matte powder and mascara, dry shampoo, a couple of pretty scarves that would spice up any monochrome outfit, etc. Alter to suit! You could, for instance, toss in a couple pair of pretty panties. I'm thinking a simple top-quality black shell would be great too, because you could always swap out the top half of your outfit with a black shell and scarf and feel somewhat transformed.

I also agree that on those days focusing on ingesting only really healthy foods also helps!
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 11:58 AM on August 19, 2013

First of all, you are your worse critic. You probably look awesome on your bad days. Only you know what isn't right with you. Everyone who sees you has no idea. Put on some lipstick and smile, if you smile, you will light your whole face up.

I'm also with xingcat. Tell someone how fabulous they look! I usually tell a girl because I'm afraid guys think I'm making a pass, but usually when I am feeling badly, it makes me feel good to make someone smile and feel good about themselves.
posted by Yellow at 12:08 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yea, I feel you. On blah days, I look up "bitch I'm fabulous" on tumblr and scroll through the memes. Hard not to feel a little sass when you see animals being fabulous.

Here you go 1 and 2 and 3 and 4, and etc.
posted by inevitability at 12:26 PM on August 19, 2013 [9 favorites]

I spend those days cultivating a feeling of being important and busy and perhaps superior to those I pass who I imagine to be doubting me based on outward appearances. It's similar to the "fiercing" strategy some have endorsed above, but kind of the opposite because instead of trying to trick myself into feeling beautiful I convince myself that what I'm doing is way more important than something so trivial. And this is not to suggest that looking good is a trivial concern: I do try of course! But on those certain bad days I let myself take on a mindset of "screw you, universe, and screw the judgmental folks at the mall. I'm a big shot here with big shot concerns and you are worried about whether I have lipstick on? Pfft!"
posted by Pomo at 12:47 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

First my non-answer answer is: Get over it. You're not going to be pretty forever. Prettiness isn't something you owe the world because you're a woman. I know it sucks and I'm saying this as someone who wears a dress EVERY SINGLE DAY even to Wal-Mart/the gas station/whatever. But I'm saying this from a place of caring because I wish I'd learned it sooner--you should feel good about yourself regardless of your looks. It will serve you well for much longer.

That said: wear a dress or fancy shoes. Even a shuffling-around dress and leggings makes me feel about a jillion times prettier than wearing pants. Mascara also makes me feel put-together even if I'm feeling otherwise hanky. A haircut can help, if you have time. Or using your favorite smelly stuff (lotion, perfume, a candle, whatever)! Painting your toenails a new color is a good one, too.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 12:53 PM on August 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

If you think about it, are there certain things that usually seem to make the "ick" feeling worse on those days? (Or, that seem to get those crappy feelings all revved up in the first place?)

For me, letting a couple of little, grooming-related things slide during a really busy week can suddenly snowball into an overarching "ugh, I feel DISGUSTING" kind of day - sort of the personal care version of the sneaky hate spiral. Noticing that I should trim my nails or shave my legs can turn into a nitpicky, whole-body scan (skirt is ill-fitting! hands are dry and flaky! overdue for a haircut!) before I even realize where that train of thought came from and put the brakes on it.

The thing that's worked best for me is realizing which specific, tiny things tend to bug me the most, and then being mindful about taking care of them daily/weekly/whenever. For me, especially in the summer, it's clean-shaven legs and painted toenails: even if I'm wearing gym shorts and a t-shirt to run to the drugstore, I just feel way less self-conscious when those things are taken care of. Pinpointing that has really, really cut down on my "I feel ugly" days. (And, when I do have them, it gives me something specific to do in the evenings to make myself feel a bit nicer.)
posted by Austenite at 1:33 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do you carry basic makeup with you? My "dumpy days" I'm usually not wearing any, or my hair's not done because I left the house in a hurry. I had an emergency kit in my desk at work with this stuff in it:

- Dry shampoo, hairbrush, hair bands
- Travel size deodorant
- Pressed powder, lipstick, mascara (you'd be surprised what a difference just these things make)
- Toothbrush/toothpaste
- Cucumber body mist

If I was feeling really bleh, 5 minutes freshening up in the bathroom helped me feel better and more put-together. The cucumber especially helped (I think mostly just a scent association for me, but those can be very powerful triggers!)
posted by annekate at 1:40 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Since I don't really wear make-up or get too dressed up my advice is less tangible, but I find that Doing Something Confidently really makes a difference, whether it's The Walk or smiling at a cute guy even if I'm out jogging and feeling gross and sweaty.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:52 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is exactly why red lipstick was invented.
posted by kinetic at 4:05 PM on August 19, 2013 [5 favorites]

I agree with "caseofyou" - your hair is everything. If that flops you are screwn so no matter what is going on - be sure its well styled at the salon - so even when its not great its not too terrible, either.

Also "xingcat" - so true. I heard a long time ago that if you pretend everyone you meet has a little invisible bucket around their neck and don't leave their company without putting something nice into it, i.e. a compliment of some sort. You will both feel better.
posted by Tullyogallaghan at 4:37 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I cultivate a fine sense of IDGAF. Based on 'I don't notice what other people look like mostly' and 'since when do I have to be fucking eye candy for every fucker I meet' and 'I have better things to do'.

Lumpy because of underwear issues? IDGAF. Hair like a wild beast? Bun that shit and IDGAF. No makeup and it looks like I had chicken pox? IDGAF. Pants too tight? IDGAF (they're going in the donate drawer when I get home). Limping because I slept wrong so I'm rocking the Quasimodo-lurch? Nurofen and IDGAF. Cold sore? Medicated cream and IDGAF. Psioriasis and eczema making my face look like I have road rash? You can bet I medicated cream that shit, look like I slicked myself in goose fat and IDGAF. Dandruff like I walked under a shedding jasmine tree? Brush off the worst of it and IDGAF. Sweating like a bastard? Wipe it off and IDGAF. Forgot ALL the things, everything going wrong, and all of the above? Take a breath and IDGAF.

I find it works better than any amount of prettifying kits and tricks and make-up and scarves and hair things because it doesn't matter why I feel kinda bleh, all that matters is IDGAF, I am here to do this thing. I am presumably out of the house in order to achieve a goal and by God I am going to achieve that goal. Looking pretty is not a goal, unless that's your job.
posted by geek anachronism at 5:44 PM on August 19, 2013 [13 favorites]

I do my hair and get some shine on my lips. Even in sweats, I feel like a million.
posted by PeaPod at 1:43 PM on August 20, 2013

I make beauty appointments: waxing, hair, nails, eyebrows, etc. Even if I can't go to the appointment that day, knowing I am doing something in the near future that will make me feel prettier makes me feel better.
posted by unannihilated at 11:44 AM on August 21, 2013

Loved these answers! Stay sassy mefites :D
posted by dinosaurprincess at 10:41 AM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have started wearing bright red ('bitch red') lipstick every day, even when I'm wearing jeans and a t-shirt, ESPECIALLY when I'm wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and I have been filled with the force of fierce every damn day. I've never felt better about myself. So it could take just one little thing.
posted by whitneyarner at 4:52 AM on August 27, 2013

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