Picture this: me, standing on the corner of 2nd Ave & Demonbreun St in Nashville. Don’t remember what I was doing there. Maybe meeting friends. Probably was wearing baggy jeans and an even baggier t-shirt–my uniform in those days. Almost certainly had my hair dyed maroon and lipstick to match.
Now, picture the souped-up car that rolled down its window when it pulled up to the intersection. Picture a nondescript dude, probably in his 20s. Don’t remember exactly what he looked like. Do remember his sneer.
Will never forget his words before he drove away: “Damn, you are ugly.”
I was 17.
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As an adult, this story makes me sad. I marvel at the cruelty. I wonder how miserable an existence he must have. How wretched life must feel to find humor in dumping that sh*t on a stranger–a teenage girl, nonetheless. As if teenage girls don’t have enough sh*t of their own to carry. I feel sorry for people in his world, what they must endure. How sad they likely are, too.
As a teen, I was mad. And I agreed with him.
I felt ugly. I hated my body and hid it under baggy clothes. I felt like such an outsider among both family and friends. I longed to be thin, to be small and pretty. I wanted to be seen and understood, even though I didn’t really understand myself. And, at 17, I had no idea how to even begin making any of those changes.
But let’s get something clear right now: UGLY IS ON THE INSIDE.
Ugly is what happens when your energy is consumed with judgment, hatred, and comparison. Ugly is cancelling people instead of conversing with them. Ugly is not loving yourself enough to feed your spirit and find what lights you up. Ugly is delighting in the darkness. Feeding on the anger and fears of the world.
He was ugly. I was just me. A version of me who was awkward. Who was A Bit Much and ignorant of how to embrace that. Who was unhappy in her body. But I wasn’t ugly.
That’s a lesson it took me a long time to learn. Part 2 of Beauty & Ugly Redefined coming soon.
Do you criticize people freely? Do you make mental judgments of others’ appearance or behaviors? Do you say, “oh, I hate that!” when a friend tells you they enjoy something? When you read someone’s tweet, do you dismiss them as a “Karen” or “Boomer”-or worse?
How could you bring more beauty to your speech and mindset? What assumptions could you let go of simply because they don’t make your life better?
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Such a thought-provoking post! I judge myself deeply, deeply harshly, but now that I've reached a certain age (I can't BELIEVE I've just typed those words!) I have begun to become delightedly 'so what?' about it. My judgment of others - and yes, I think I've always found I've had an opinion on others - has lessened dramatically, and it's such a RELIEF. It's not that I'm evil - at least I hope I'm not - it's that I have always compared, compared, compared, and that has required an ongoing analysis of who and what I'm comparing myself WITH. Long may being 48 continue, oh YES!
I’ll admit I was a fairly judgmental person when I was younger (I suppose most young people are). As I age, I judge others less and less. Part of this comes from being old enough to be secure in who I am, and just not really giving a crap what others do with their lives and their bodies. But beyond that, the more life experience I gain, the more I realize I can’t possibly understand others’ experiences or what they are going through at that moment. And if I can never truly put myself in their shoes, how can I judge the decisions they make?