I hate looking in the mirror
October 17, 2007 11:05 PM   Subscribe

How do I stop letting my self-image ruin my life? (Kind of long)

I am a 31 year old woman and I have been single, or not in a LTR, for over 3 years, maybe longer... lost count. I guess my main problem is, I have very low self-esteem, and a possible distorted body image. See, ever since I was young I was criticized and ridiculed for the way that I look. Until I was about 16 or so, there was a certain part of my face that was oversized and that I blamed everything on. Well, I ended up getting plastic surgery on that part of my face at a pretty young age, I believe I was 17 years old. For a while I was extremely grateful and happy with the way that I looked. But then I overheard a guy that I liked telling his friend that he liked my body but that I had an ugly face. Well this was AFTER the surgery, and he did not know I was listening, and he did not even know that I had plastic surgery. When he found out I had heard him, he apologized and felt really bad, which made me feel even worse. If he had known I was listening, I could have just assumed that he wanted me to hear, to repel me or whatever. But since that was not the case, and he truly did feel bad about it, I was really scarred by these words. This was just one incident, a very hurtful one that I still remember very clearly, and I'm just giving you an idea of where I'm coming from. Since that time, I have struggled with my self-image, not only because of that particular situation, but because of all the cruel words before my surgery AND after my surgery. The surgery did make a huge difference, but I still feel ugly, and some hateful people I have had the pleasure of encountering have said I was ugly also. For example, I was at a party and there was a girl there who for some reason did not like me. I don't know what I did being that I never even talked to her, but she was a little drunk and just picked me as her target and started saying things to her little group of friends, loud enough for me to hear. Things like how ugly I was, etc. Then there was another girl who, to make a long story short, also attacked my looks, not even knowing how insecure I was, but somehow knew that would break me down.

I know I'm rambling, but I'm just trying to give a clear picture as I can here. I'm not that great at explaining things. Anyway, I'm confused because, there have also been many men who have been attracted to me, who tell me I'm cute, sexy, hot, etc...And sometimes I almost believe them. I have had boyfriends, and been in long-term relationships, so it's not that I haven't been able to attract the opposite sex. But in most of my relationships, I have had to chase the man, and I still blame my looks. I am far from a shallow person, but I am very obsessed with my looks because I still hold the belief that I am ugly, and this has gotten in the way of enjoying life. Here's where things start to get worse. I avoid mirrors. I will not look at myself directly in the mirror if I can help it. When I get ready to go out or go to work, I will only look at myself in the mirror I have set up in my room. I have certain lighting around this mirror so that I can handle looking at myself. In this mirror, I am ok with the way that I look, sometimes I even think I look good. But if I go in the bathroom or anywhere else there's a mirror, and I look at myself, I get really depressed and don't even want to go out and subject other people to what i see. If I do look at myself in "other" mirrors, I will only look at my profile, and not straight at the mirror. If I do look, I see ugly ugly ugly. I see dark circles, puffy bloodshot eyes, crooked big nose, ugly twisted mouth, dead skin, just horrible. It's the same exact thing with pictures, I absolutely hate pictures of myself, and most of the time they make me sick to my stomach. So I avoid them. Which makes internet dating extremely tough because I only have about 2 pictures I'm ok with. Which is why I don't internet date.

I guess the main problem here is that I wonder if I am fooling myself into thinking I might be attractive. I'm a strong believer in how you feel about yourself is how other people will see you, and so I wonder if the times when others have found me attractive, it was because I felt attractive in A Certain Mirror. But how do I know? Why have I been single for so long? Why do most guys I meet only want a sexual relationship and nothing more? How can I stop blaming my looks? How can I get past my looks? How can I accept myself, even though I don't even know who I am or what I really look like, being that if I do force myself to look in the mirror, I plummet into depression that lasts far too long? I guess part of the reason I stopped looking at myself was so I could just SURvive. How do I know if what I'm seeing is a truly distorted image in my mind, like Body Dysmorphic Disorder? Like I said, men are attracted to me, but I don't know what they are attracted to. When a man does pursue me, I can't help but wonder in the back of my mind...what's wrong with him? I rarely give anyone who pursues me a chance, I get really scared and think there must be something wrong with him, mainly because I'm confused.

Obviously, there are alot more issues at hand, and I don't expect any kind of answer here. Just maybe some insight. I just recently started therapy again. I had been in therapy in the past, but never really brought this up because it's so hard for me to talk about, since I'm afraid the therapist is going to tell me something nice while secretly thinking I am ugly and no therapy can make that go away. But I can't live like this anymore, and I guess posting this on here is a start. Obviously I need to talk to my therapist about it, but any advice or insight would be greatly appreciated!
posted by Alive N Kickin to Human Relations (21 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
but never really brought this up because it's so hard for me to talk about, since I'm afraid the therapist is going to tell me something nice while secretly thinking I am ugly and no therapy can make that go away.

Well ... it seems kind of central to the reason you need therapy at all. Believe me, self-image issues are extremely common--arguably universal--and your therapist will be not be offended, will not disbelieve you, and will not ridicule you, any more than they would do the same to someone with, say, anorexia, or anxiety attacks, or phobias, or any of the thousands of other psychological troubles that plague human beings. Your therapist is there to help you. The more complete the information you can give them, the better.

That aside, the people who find you attractive are not lying, and the people who find you unattractive are not telling the truth. Both are matters of opinion, not facts, and are largely outside of the person's conscious control. Since most people don't exactly think much, they tend to consider their personal subjective opinions and prejudices as objective fact. That's their problem.

You sound like you do have a kind of dysmorphia (talk to your therapist about it), and you certainly are sabotaging your own chances at happiness if you're assuming any man who finds you attractive therefore has something wrong with him. That, also, is a regrettably common delusion.

"Just wanting a sexual relationship" is the default for men, speaking frankly. Don't take it as a criticism (or even as praise) of you personally; most of those men would want the same thing with Cindy Crawford. "LTR-eligible" is a subset of "sexually attractive". How large a subset varies.

Regarding your particular looks: not everyone finds the same kind of faces pretty, or even interesting. Some people have distinct preferences towards high cheekbones, or particular shapes of lip or eye colors, and will respond positively to faces that have those characteristics even though the faces are otherwise "flawed" in the sight of the average person, who personally likes some other characteristic. A lot of men find body shape a far stronger influence on preference than face; has it ever occurred to you that that guy you mentioned probably would have dated you? (Maybe he was a decent enough person to just apologise because he should ... but maybe thinking that he'd blown any chance he had with you factored into his reaction too.)

Look, women who look like Robbie Coltrane in drag get married and have kids. Look around you in the street, in the shopping centre, in the "wedding photos" section of the paper. There are men who will find you attractive. Genuinely, honestly, attractive. Your barrier isn't men, unless you get hung up on a particular individual man who doesn't find you attractive, and you generalize his reaction to men in general, which would be another (regrettably common) sort of mistake that can happen to anyone. Your barrier is your crushingly negative view of yourself.

Then there was another girl who, to make a long story short, also attacked my looks, not even knowing how insecure I was, but somehow knew that would break me down.

If one is wanting to be cruel to a woman, attacking her looks is a fairly good bet. No matter what she looks like. :/ I have no particular advice to give on that score, except this: don't fight battles on the enemy's favored terrain. Do some self-defense classes (another good place to meet men who don't care for "delicate beauties"), and learn to throw a good right hook. Decking the bitch was quite well warranted, in that case - and would have impressed the hell out of any men watching. (Doesn't matter if you're a tiny little thing and she's an Amazonian supermodel. She won' t be expecting it.)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:19 AM on October 18, 2007 [5 favorites]


Well, we live in a world that can be very hard on people who depart too far from the standard template, be it in looks or other ways. If you are "ugly" (difficult word for me merely to write, so I guess excruciating for you to face up to), then that is a cross you will have to bear through life, no question. How you cope with it is a matter of character, and I think that as a first step (to where? who knows) you have to be tough with yourself and face up to things, literally: I mean, stop avoiding mirrors and doing all this 'special mirror' stuff. If you can't accept yourself, how do you expect someone else to? The love of others is always contingent, and if you loathe yourself you're not going to encourage someone else to love you. Finally, an absolutely practical suggestion for what it's worth: try dating someone significantly older than yourself, I mean 10-15-20 years (even more, if you like ;)). Older guys will be more likely to get past your looks and be able to value other things about you.
posted by londongeezer at 1:29 AM on October 18, 2007


. . . and you certainly are sabotaging your own chances at happiness if you're assuming any man who finds you attractive therefore has something wrong with him.

Yes, yes. My last LTR was with an overweight woman who did this. She's curvy in the right ways and absolutely radiant when she's happy. But, she has a very poor self-image and has no problem telling me that I'm fucked-up for ever liking her. It's very insulting as she totally discounts my opinion as a "normal" guy. It definitely hurt our relationship. Don't do this.

Attitude and how you carry yourself are a large part of beauty. That same radiant and bubbly woman instantly makes herself as ugly as possible when someone takes out a camera. If you are like this I'm not surprised that you only have a few photos of yourself that you like.

From everything you've said it sounds like you do have a distorted perception of yourself. Remember that what we see is only a construct of the outside world in our mind; it is not an objective record of the photons striking our retina.
posted by D.C. at 2:02 AM on October 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Seconding D.C. that looks have much, if not mostly, to do with confidence and happiness. You would be surprised at how much of beauty radiates from within. If you observe social dynamics around you, not television, you will see that people are drawn to warm, happy, giving people who SMILE, not to people who are withdrawn or insecure, no matter what they look like.

I agree that this should be a central issue you discuss with your therapist. This is going to take a major perspective shift for you, and it will incredibly enhance the quality of your life, and I am excited for you when it happens. The perspective shift is similar to taking a videocam you have trained entirely on yourself, all day long, watching the feed constantly, and turning it 180 degrees outward and making the feed you watch the world and life and others. Remember that other people, like you, are thinking about *themselves* and do not give a hoot about you or what you look like (your evidence to the contrary). Realizing this is incredibly liberating.

When you make this shift and walk into any room and think, who's uncomfortable whom I can make comfortable? Who needs a friend to talk to? Does anyone need an introduction I can make? - you will change your whole life and it will be fantastic. Remember that you are just a thread in this huge, crazy, beautiful, painful tapestry that is life and the world. Look around at your fellow threads and see what you can do to help. This helps *you*, believe it or not.

You can choose to stop looking at whatever magazines you read and shows you watch that seem to indicate you don't meet the ideal. Believe me, 95% of people don't. (I made that up, but I am probably close). YOU get to choose where you focus your attention. I promise if you focus on contributing, rather than worrying about what other people think, you will become beautiful, both to yourself and others. Look OUTWARD is what I'm trying to say. Looking inward keeps you closed.

I'm also going to suggest you evaluate these people you hang out with. Certainly by 30, most people have picked up on the idea that it is "what's inside that counts" and I think your current circle might be like the folks on Ugly Betty or something - rare and obnoxious. I don't know anyone like that IRL, and I would avoid them if I did. You have the power to choose this, you know. You get to choose the people you hang out with.

People are always going to comment on looks - primates are visual creatures and our culture is, outwardly, obsessed with looks. But think of the millions of people who are just "average or below average" who live happy lives. What business are you in? Who are the leaders, the most successful? Are they perfect tens? If you are in anything other than modeling, I would think the answer would be "no." IRL, the greatest people DO great things. Looks have little, if anything, to do with it.
posted by frumious bandersnatch at 2:36 AM on October 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


I emphatically suggest you read The Greatest Salesman In The World by Og Mandino and follow the instructions carefully. I believe it will change your life as it did mine.
posted by PoopyDoop at 3:27 AM on October 18, 2007


Thank you for posting this. Yes you need to talk to a therapist. I would add a caveat. A poorly selected therapist might be a terrible idea. There are many therapists who are not all that good, and this is a difficult problem. A lot of the therapists I have been to would not be up to it.

As for your looks, ugly is rather subjective. I know a couple 250 pound women who don't seem to have any problem with their looks. I avoid mirrors myself. Not because I think I am ugly, although I am definitely not hot, but because I have a masky, almost parkinsonian expression which I have acquired from years of trying to inure myself to the cruelty and rudeness of everyday life, and I prefer not to look at it.
posted by bukvich at 4:04 AM on October 18, 2007


thirding the therapist. you have felt so down on yourself for so long, you don't even know how to accept your looks anymore. maybe you never learned. a therapist will help. shop around and find one who specializes in body image. counselors for anorexia or burn and cancer patients might help.

also: have you considered sitting down with a makeup artist and hair stylist? a great cut and color, and the right makeup strategy can work wonders. it will draw the focus away from whatever your problem area is, and will help boost your confidence. get your eyebrows waxed, exfoliate your skin, get your teeth whitened, get your hair highlighted...all of these little things will help.

ditto with your body--if you dress in a flattering way and exercise, you'll contribute to your overall image. that way you will not feel like a walking nose or chin or whatever bugs you.

finally: buy some amazingly cute shoes and sassy underwear. that's my big confidence booster.

and maybe read lucy grealy's "autobiography of a face."
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:27 AM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I thought i was out-and-out ugly for years. You see, I have red hair, freckles, and very pale skin - in a culture that when I grew up, worshiped bronzed, blonde women, or failing that, the classic meditterranian beauty of dark hair and olive skin. I was a freak, and buillied because of it (largely because whilst you'll get in trouble for bullying an asian because it's racist, you won't get in trouble for bullying a redhead on the basis of their looks, because hey, they're just caucasian, aren't they).

Dating was hard, to say the least. The number of totally demoralizing comments to do with, for instance, body hair - being met with utter shock the first time you get nude with someone isn't exactly an ego-boost.

It took a very, very long time to accept that some people find me attractive. Yeah, some don't go for my type - they think I look like an unnantural freak (and I don't blame them - objectively, I look odd at best). Other men, in particular, find me stunningly sexy and exotic. Personally, I think I look kinda nice in a totally orthogonal way. But it's taken me nearly a decade to get this far.

I guess what I'm trying to get at is this - no matter how far from the norm you are, there is someone out there (most likely a lot of someones) who will find you attractive. And, like any self-image issue - it is vunerable to therapy, and positive self-thinking.
posted by ysabet at 5:23 AM on October 18, 2007


Holy Cow, I feel your pain. I've lived though similar experiences, including doing the whole mirror avoidance thing myself there for a while.

Here's something for you to consider, Alive. Loudly criticizing you in public, regardless of what quality is being criticized, says way more about the person doing the talking than it says about you. So, drunk chick calling you ugly? I'd say the only reason she did what she did was because she was feeling crushingly insecure herself, and that night, you were her biggest threat. This is an extremely important point.

It's taken me up till now to figure this out, but when someone criticizes me for some personal quality, it's their problem, not mine. Having understood this point, it's nowhere near the severe blow to my self-esteem when people do this to me.

Nowadays, I like to infuriate people like this by ignoring the criticism completely, and enjoying myself in full view of them. They want you to feel crushed so they can build themselves up. Nothing will infuriate them more than not getting the reaction they were hoping for.

Good luck to you.
posted by LN at 5:35 AM on October 18, 2007


We are all going to tell you to talk to your therapist, I think. It's the first and best thing to do. Meanwhile, a few thoughts for you...

A boy or two in high school called me ugly, too, which really wasn't true at all, not even a little bit... but high school/college boys. What can you say? Generally, they are probably not the best sources to base any sort of judgment on, especially not one's self-image. And another girl calling you "ugly" kind of strongly argues in favor of the likelihood that you are anything but... especially since she didn't know you at all. It's the kind of thing stupid girls do when they feel threatened.

So, I don't know. You may be quite attractive by popular/current standards, or perhaps not, but ultimately it doesn't matter. Even if you are beautiful, two things apply: you won't stay beautiful forever, and not everyone will find you beautiful. As well, if someone finds you attractive, they're not "wrong." How can they possibly be wrong? How would you like someone telling you that guy X whom you find attractive is incorrect, and you should actually be attracted to guy Z, who doesn't appeal to you?

But, back to beauty... The beautiful person finds some things marginally easier, it's true: they receive more help, and are often more popular than an unattractive person, it's easier for them to get dates, and they may be offered more opportunities. Which is all nice stuff, but is also stuff that can be acquired by being funny, or talented, or kind... or even just cheerful and friendly.

The down side of beauty is that a lot of beautiful people never develop other sides of their personality, because they never had to... They take their success and popularity for granted, and when their attractiveness fades, they are left with few resources to fall back on - and it can be rather shattering to find that you are not longer the center of attention, that people no longer go out of their way to assist you, and because you're just not that intrinsically interesting or pleasant, nobody is lining up to talk to you or invite you out.

But society places a huge emphasis on feminine beauty, so we all try as well as we can to twist ourselves into pretzels to try to fit the look du jour (mean girls? one girl once laughed and laughed at me because my lips were "too big"; I guess she didn't see Angelina Jolie and collagen coming down the pike in a few years). It's understandable, to some degree, given the sheer amount of media bludgeoning we get. But you don't need to be beautiful to find true love, or career success, or loving friends and family, or personal expression. You just don't. You need a lot of other things to have all that, but they are things within your reach, things you can develop and refine.

Being well dressed and well groomed, eating well and getting enough sleep and exercise will make you fit and healthy and glowy. Being absorbed in your interests and your friends and developing your skills and talents will make you happy and interesting. Being compassionate and kind will make you warm and pleasant. And whether it actually turns out that you are a perfectly gorgeous girl, or truly not that pretty, these are the things that will attract people to you and determine how happy you are in life, all your life. If the only thing carrying you through is your great face... then, hell - one huge zit can pretty much crush your world. And aging? Well, good luck with the second half of your life.

See your therapist, tell him/her about this, and start getting on with your soon-to-be beautiful life. :)
posted by taz at 5:46 AM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Some of the most beautiful people I've met are not "classically beautiful". There was this one girl in high school, who some people would call ugly and fat. She shined from within. She smelled fantastic, and did her hair, and every time I saw her I wanted to wrap my arms around her and say, "you're nice". She was vivacious and happy.

I am totally enamored with someone that has a bit of a belly, isn't gorgeous by traditional standards, has blue gums over their front teeth, and for some reason, my heart still flutters when they smile at me.

It isn't really what is on the outside that people want.

And the way I always think of it for myself...it's all the same in the dark. We're all just warm bodies.

Hang in there with the rest of us. Beautiful people aren't happier because they're beautiful.
posted by rocket_johnny at 6:37 AM on October 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


I wonder if I am fooling myself into thinking I might be attractive.

There is no such thing as the general quality of "attractive." Some people find us attractive, others do not. We say "attractive" as a global description to make it clear we mean "I think a lot of people find this person attractive."

Now, if all we can say is that some people find us attractive and some do not, how many people must find us attractive before we are happy with ourselves? Once you start putting it that way, the whole ridiculousness of it starts to become apparent.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was designed for dealing with this. I recommend Intimate Connections by Dr. David Burns.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:41 AM on October 18, 2007


Why do most guys I meet only want a sexual relationship and nothing more?

I can't answer this specifically for you, but I went through a period of my life where this seemed to be true for me. In that period, I also felt extremely unattractive. I was looking for men to "prove" to me that I was attractive, and the surest form of "proof" in my mind was that they wanted to sleep with me. So I was sending out "please find me attractive" signals, and the men who respond to that generally only wanted one thing, which I gladly took because it was "proof" that validated me even if only for a short while. When I figured out that was all they wanted, my self-esteem evaporated. This is why other people's opinion of your attractiveness will never, EVER, EVER EVER EVER be enough if you don't intrinsically believe it.

I'm not deluded, I know I'm not a model. I know I'm not even average. There are things I like about my body and things I don't. I did develop the confidence to be comfortable in my own skin, though. I own it. This is me. If you don't want to drool at my feet, fine by me, but there is nothing wrong with me. (My religious beliefs help here too. I am exactly the way I was created.)

Another thought - people are attracted to confidence, and though someone may sleep with you, they're not going to stick around if they perceive that you will constantly need reassurance of your own attractiveness.

Aside from the obvious advice of continuing therapy, do something that gives you a sense of accomplishment but that isn't at all dependent on social acceptance or appearance. Learn to knit, program computers, build furniture, feed the homeless, whatever. Find your passion and focus on it - this will take your focus off of what other people think. Paradoxically, it will draw people to you.
posted by desjardins at 7:54 AM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Others have good information that I won't repeat and I will keep my comment short. I thought I was ugly when I was younger. I was wrong. This distorted self-perception resulted in untold lost opportunities through self-sabotage. Don't repeat my mistake.
posted by forforf at 7:54 AM on October 18, 2007


Great advice in here. As you can see, to some extent, this is a pretty universal experience. The only thing I would ad is that anyone who criticizes other peoples' appearance out loud is a Bad Person. Especially if they're still doing it when they're in their 30s. sheesh.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 8:18 AM on October 18, 2007


Desjardins chimed in with the same phrase I've adopted to get past my own self-image issues - own it. I have a face for radio (a phrase I've just heard and adore, so I've adopted it) and I own it. "Attractive" is not a symmetrical face, or perfect teeth, or shiny hair. Attractive is the pull of a warm smile and the loveliness of being near someone who is comfortable in their own skin.

I figured out eventually that I was a magnet for cruelty because I believed everything people said to me. I was a great stage for other people's dramas. Well, cruelty is a tool used by small minded people to make themselves feel powerful. If someone truly believed you were ugly, it can only be because their own ugliness has overwhelmed them, so they project it out. And because you aren't confident, you absorb what they project. You've accepted it.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is really effective, in my opinion. It works for me. The problem is not that you are unattractive, but that you are seeking love and validation that only you can give yourself, and you're looking elsewhere for it. You deserve to feel sassy. You are worth frivolity and the luxury of improbable shoes that you can't walk a block in. You have a place in the universe that is all about YOU, and you own it. Own it. There is only one you, and the whole world is better for having you in it.
posted by annathea at 10:51 AM on October 18, 2007


If you want to look a little more snazzy: Go to the biggest department stores at the mall and cruise the makeup area. Frequently. Find a makeup salesperson who looks really pretty while not having classic features. Get makeovers from several of these people. Only buy makeup when you think you look really good, and then only buy the basics that you like. If you feel guilty, go to the mall when it's dead, and they're bored. They're getting paid to try to sell you makeup; you are not at all obligated.

A huge part of looks is how you work it. If you are in good shape physically, dress well, stand up straight, and believe in yourself, you can present yourself well, and be considered attractive.

Use affirmations. Several times, every day, say out loud "I have such a pretty smile." "I have sparkling eyes." "I deserve to be loved." and whatever simple statements best work for you.

Don't let people put you down. And don't, even joking, put yourself down.

Do something for other people. Volunteering to build houses for Habitat is a great way to meet people, and to refocus your energy away from your looks. Doing selfless work gives you a nice glow.
posted by theora55 at 3:05 PM on October 18, 2007


I was a bit hesitant to comment here, because while I had lots to say on the matter, I didn’t know how to make it into a coherent ordered sensical…something. There have already been some very good responses in this thread, particularly aeschenkarnos’s answer which is on the money in regards to some of the issues you’re facing.

For what it’s worth, I too deal with similar body issues as you do, although yours seem to be more focused on your face than your body. Why is that? Is it only because you’re comfortable with your body or is it because you’ve only heard negative comments about your face? I think it’s probably a combination of both. I think that even if you were regaled with dozens of comments on the beauty of your face you still wouldn’t be convinced. You might get a temporary ego boost for a little while, but you’ll catch yourself in the mirror one time and it’ll all come crashing down. That’s because validation from others isn’t nearly as important as the validation you need from yourself. It’s completely cliché and I cringe writing it but you have to love yourself before you can love and be loved by others.

It’s an easy thing to say look outwardly and focus on the positive instead of the negatives, but it’s much harder to do this when your insides are being eaten up by paranoia and insecurity. And sometimes…that insecurity is the safety blanket you need to excuse yourself from the problems you face in life. It’s easy to blame all your predicaments with men and interactions with girls (I’ll call them girls because they sure aren’t acting like women) on “actually” being ugly but there’s probably a lot more at play than you realise. People are drawn to bright, confident people like moths to a flame. It took me a long time to realise this and even longer to try and implement – I’m still trying – but all those little things, like the way you hold yourself, looking people in the eyes, makes all the difference.

I have always, always thought there was something wrong with any guy that found me attractive. I still do, even though I’m in a long-term relationship. I still think I’m damn near grotesque most days even though I’m regaled with compliments from my boyfriend every time we’re together. I used to indulge in harmful behaviour with him, calling him gay or insane for ever finding my pretty so I could drive him away. I didn’t believe I deserved this guy, I didn’t think I deserved someone who actually, really wanted to be with me. I couldn’t accept that. I couldn’t accept that I was worthy of love.

When he then started to question his attraction to me because of it was when I had my wake-up call. You’re systematically destroying yourself if you keep those nasty comments people have made to you close to your heart. Every single, negative, off-hand thing anyone has ever said to me about my looks I held onto. And every time someone offered a counter claim, I’d turn to those criticisms instead. You’re never going to satisfy everyone, Alive N Kickin, the only person you can hope to satisfy is yourself.

Those people who tear you down are more insecure than you could ever imagine. That they need to put other people down to feel better about themselves shows how twisted they are inside. You can’t be wrong if you find yourself attractive. It’s not objective. If you do, embrace it. Your opinion is your opinion. Please, don’t waste any more of your life obsessing over this. Don’t look back at your past and wish you’d spent your time living it instead of curled up inside. That would be a terrible loss to the world.

As others have suggested, I think therapy is your best option. Speaking about these kind of problems with other people tends to get you dismissed as they have no real understanding as to how deep the pain goes. I’ve always been afraid to speak to a therapist about it, feeling my problem too insignificant to be laughable but they are the ones that can help you the most. I hope you find your way.
posted by liquorice at 3:24 PM on October 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


When people describe men they find attractive, they often talk about charisma - it's not a word that's usually used in reference to women, but with men it can make all the difference. No one would have said Bill Clinton was attractive in a traditional "pretty" sort of way, but people did say that he was attractive in his presence because of the power of his personality and charisma. Sometimes people will talk about the presence or charm or maybe "poise" of a woman, but I think they're trying to get at that same inner energy. When someone is just alive and comfortable with themselves, and their eyes light up as they talk, they are much more interesting to be around. When they have an expressive face, and actually interact with you, they make things more interesting.

Thinking you're not attractive enough is a sort of like a weird kind of egotism: you slow down the social wheels with all the, 'wait wait, let's reconsider my place in all this again - am I really acceptable?' Instead you have to read the cues and accept the responses given the first time around. If he rejects you, he rejects you; if he likes you, he likes you - either one is entirely possible for just about anyone, because everyone has different tastes, and almost no one is so completely far down one end of the spectrum or the other that there will never be disagreement (especially considering all the random factors that might contribute to the opinion).

The biggest thing that will make you unattractive is your obsession with how attractive you are. It's not that important. Be comfortable with who you are, and you're automatically much cuter than you were when you were freaking out about it. You can't change it, so just go with whatever you've got, and accept people's responses as their honest responses. If you're lucky enough that some hotty is turned on by you, go with it! If you're unlucky enough that some other one is not, too bad for him! Not everyone will agree, and you don't really have to come to your own conclusion about what you think objectively.
posted by mdn at 4:31 PM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


All good advice.

I can only add that any face looks much "better", more attractive, with an expression on it. Don't avoid having expressions; have a lively face. Let your face be expressive and it has much more character. Everyone has micro-expressions, all you have to do is let them out. People perceive that as engaged, and they interpret it as being interested, in them. That's hard to resist. They don't remember it as that flat face you make in your special mirror; they remember the expression you had when you were totally fascinated by what they just said. It has different associations.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 5:56 PM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks everyone for the insight. This helped me more than you can imagine!
posted by Alive N Kickin at 2:38 AM on November 28, 2007


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