The World Insists I Am Beautiful, But I Think I’m Ugly

By: Malak Atwa

You can sound confident and have anxiety.

You can look healthy and feel sh*t.

You can speak in public and be a wreck.

You can lift barbells and be weak. 

You can be a man and cry.

You can be good-looking and feel ugly.

You can have everything and feel nothing. 

A poem by Matt Haig, Minds Have Their Own Reality. 

Things are never what they appear to be on the surface. Even if you think someone is an open book, they’ll still somehow manage to surprise you, no matter what. Someone that appears to be an intellectual can also have a hard time understanding certain things, they can still feel stupid. Someone who appears to be funny might feel as if they have a poor/offensive/hard to understand sense of humor. Someone who appears to have their life together can just as easily cry and feel just as hopeless as the average person. And someone who checks off everything on the “what it takes to be beautiful in our society” list, can most definitely feel ugly. 

Society has created this box, and in this box are basically all of the requirements of being “beautiful” – beautiful is put in quotations because there is no definition of the word. The word “beautiful” itself in the dictionary is: pleasing the senses or mind aesthetically. There are no requirements to be beautiful, but unfortunately society – as always – just had to butt in and be like “oh you think you’re beautiful? Well, you’re wrong”. Beautiful for decades had been categorized as a small frame, big blue – colored – eyes, full lips, curvy hips, big bust, big butt, small nose…etc. The list goes on and on, but thankfully over the past few years that list became somewhat less specific. The beauty standard has been more diverse. You don’t need to be tall, white and blonde to be labeled as beautiful. 

We are learning to unlearn what “beautiful” meant, and I – among others – am struggling. Even though I’m not ugly – NO ONE IS UGLY! – I do fit in the beauty standard I guess. Fair skin, curly hair, small frame, but I don’t feel beautiful. I don’t feel that I have a good body. I’m not confident like most people think I am. People always say that talking makes you feel better, but every time I try to bring this topic up I get shut down. Like I’m not allowed to feel the way that I do. As if the way that I feel is unimportant, or it’s taken as me being humble. But I genuinely feel this way. I don’t want the compliments or the pity. I want to be allowed to have the emotions that I do. I want to be able to go to the gym without getting stared at for being skinny.

 “Enty leh ray7a el gym howa enty feiky 7aga aslan?”. 

“Aywa akeed akeed enty ezay tekhena w we7sha keda enty hat2olely!”.

For the times where I have decided to open up and write, or talk about insecurities that I struggle with, I found myself being mocked and ridiculed for having these insecurities. Keep in mind I’m not trying to be relatable or trendy, I’m not looking for pity or for compliments about my hair, body, appearance in general… etc.  I decided to be open and vulnerable and in return I get made fun of? For trying to say how I feel, for trying to communicate and explain what’s going on inside my brain, basically doing what everyone constantly tells me to do. I don’t like to share these things because I know what the response will be. I’ve heard it my entire life. I’m not some beauty in distress, “oh how awful I’m pretty and not allowed to feel insecure” that’s not what I’m saying. I am human. And I – as a human being – have every right to feel insecure. It’s not what I want, believe me it’s not like I wake up everyday anticipating when I’m going to have a mental breakdown about something I’m insecure about. It just happens. 

The worst part about having these insecurities is feeling guilty for having them. Which, you don’t need to feel this way, but when you open up – or see other people opening about the same insecurities that you might have or even similar, people make them feel guilty, so they don’t just make fun of them, but they make them feel guilty about feeling bad about themselves. They think that with their words, I’ll feel better, but it only makes these insecurities and self-loathing increases. You have to hide your insecurities to not get judged, you have to deal with it alone, but they say ask for help, don’t they? Then how come when they do ask for help, others shut them down? They do the opposite of what they say they’ll do. 

You, as a friend or parent or relative or whatever, you need to accept the fact that someone, even if they are beautiful, they are human. They have every right to feel insecure, to feel ugly. And just as we have bad days, we have good days too where we feel like we can conquer the world. I don’t need reminders that I’m beautiful. I want to be accepted and heard, and maybe then I’ll feel beautiful.

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