Define ‘ugly’ for me.
Ugly in what way? Because let me tell you what ugly means to me. ‘Ugly’ is someone who is racist or homophobic or sexist. ‘Ugly’ is the person who belittles others to make themselves feel better. ‘Ugly’ is someone who is disloyal and unkind. ‘Ugly’ is the person who is verbally or physically abusive to others.
But I don’t think that’s what you’re talking about.
You’re calling yourself ugly because you have too many moles or sticking-out ears or chubby thighs. You think you’re ugly because you hate your stupid flat hair or your boobs which are too small (or too big).
Darling heart, that’s not ugly. We all have things we dislike about ourselves – even supermodels like Megan Gale and actors like Jennifer Lawrence. ‘Beauty’ is subjective. So often it is our physical flaws which make us unique.
Life is about learning to love what you’ve got. And it’s about putting your best self forward. If you’re feeling like one big hot mess (and everybody does at least once a week!), there’s nothing wrong with reading up on how to dress to suit your body shape or talking to a hairdresser to get a haircut that beautifully frames your face.
But it’s not your face or your cute skirt or your haircut or a thigh-gap that someone falls in love with. It’s your spirit, your personality, your talent. It’s the way you really listen when people talk. It’s your ability to see the good in others. It’s your glass half-full attitude. It’s the way you always nail the art and culture questions when you play Trivial Pursuit. It’s your kindness, your patience, your famous lip-smacking chocolate cake. It’s your joy, your compassion, your empathy. It’s the way other people FEEL when they’re around you. It’s the delight you take in laughing at yourself. It’s your passion for human rights or saving the orangutans or student politics or all of the above. It’s your magnetic confidence when you walk into a room with a smile that says you know who you are.
You’re ugly? No, you are not.
And the boyfriend will come. Give it time. Wait for the person who notices the quirky things about you that make you special. Wait for the person whose eyes light up when they see you. That person who truly loves you will arrive. There is a lid for every jam jar, as my friend’s grandma used to say.
PS You don’t ‘get’ a boyfriend. YOU get to CHOOSE that certain someone. If you wanted a boyfriend (or girlfriend) that badly you could have one by now – you and I both know that. You could just nod your head at the next desperate teenage boy who walks by. But I think you’re talking about someone special.
PPS Maybe you’re not quite ready for a boyfriend yet, anyway? Because if you can’t appreciate how awesome and magical and beautiful YOU are – then how can someone else see it? Fall in love with yourself first, and that will give permission for others to follow your lead and fall in love with you, too.
Extract from “Ask Me Anything (heartfelt answers to 65 anonymous questions from teenage girls)” by Rebecca Sparrow, University of Queensland Press.