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On being “aesthetically challenged”

My Story

Me, to Imo: “I’m not ugly. I’m… ‘aesthetically challenged'”

Note: this post is about my raw feelings regarding being ugly “aesthetically challenged”. Writing it was a way of “working with my stuff”. That is, write a line, shed tears, write another line, shed more tears. Yeah, like that.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

I don’t look the way I wish I looked.

And this is me.

I’ve wished, and wished, and wished I looked differently.
I’ve wished until I broke my skin and my soul.

And this is me.

This body is where I live.

It’s not where I wish I lived.

And it is where I live.


It all must have begun at around the age of 5… Because that’s when I remember realising it.

Realising that I wasn’t beautiful.

So I wished, and hoped and prayed that I would “grow up” into “beautiful”.

I think a part of me must have believed it possible for me to grow up and become blond and blue eyed. You know, like Princess Aurora.

As years went by, that misunderstanding of how reality works dawned on me. And it hurt.

I was very angry over the fact that I wasn’t blond. Or blue eyed. Very angry indeed.

There is pain here that I’m still trying to work with.

And why would I want to be beautiful anyway?

Because I want to be loved. And I’m afraid I’ll never be.

Worse. I am *positive* I never will be.

I look at my face and this “certainty” sinks in.
“It’s not going to happen, is it? … I’m never going to find a man who loves me. Not with this face”


I’m at this cafe with my friend. She’s very pretty. That is a fact.

For some reason there is a mirror in front of me. Yay. (not yay)

So there I am. Seeing my friend’s face. Seeing my own. My friend’s. My own.
It hurts. The clash, it hurts.
The soul-ripping clash of “pretty” and the sight of “not pretty”.
How when your eyes get used to rest on “pretty”, the contrast with “not pretty” is so much worse.

It’s like someone lacerating your insides… over and over again.
See yourself in the mirror when you wake up… ouch.
See the facial reaction on a man who first lays his eyes on your face… ouch.
See the face of someone who is actually beautiful… ouch.
Remember that you’re single… *silent ripping of the soul*


You go to people and you say “I’m not beautiful. I’m hurting” and they reply
“you are beautiful” or even better, they say “shut up about it”.

Yay. Useful.

And before anyone mentions how I shouldn’t expect any different from people because, after all, I’m a grown up and I should be over these things…
People have been reacting this way since I was 8 years old.

So don’t picture a fully grown woman. Picture an 8 year old, saying “I’m not beautiful. I’m hurting”
And then picture fully grown adults saying either “you are beautiful” or “shut up”.
Usually both in the same breath.

It is cruel to say to someone “you are hurting over nothing”. It is cruel to say to someone “shut up, I don’t want to hear about your hurting”.


People lie.
OK, that may be a bit harsh…
Let’s just say that they get ‘creative’ with the truth.
They take artistic licenses and embellish and emboss things.
The hard truth is that I am ugly *aesthetically challenged* and that is that
And I feel angry and resentful because everyone who has ever denied, to my face, what is perfectly clear, on my face, that the actual appearance of my face is one of ugliness, was lying to me.
Yeah, ok, chances are they were in their stuff. I get that.

But you know what? It’s mean to lie to people. And it’s mean to deny them their perception of reality.
Cuz I have eyes, you know. And I can see things.
And I can see how people react when they see my face.
Worse than that. Being highly sensitive means I can probably pick up on the fact that they are lying. Out of kindness, sure. But they’re still lying.
I can sense cognitive dissonance.

The Pain is Legitimate. It is also vast.

There’s real grieving to be done here… Real sadness and pain. THIS STUFF HURTS.

From the very moment I wished I would grow up “pretty”… and the slow realisation that it wasn’t going to happen and there was nothing I could do about it.
Real grieving. Like, ACTUAL LOSS.

Your pain is legitimate. There is a legitimate reason for the pain of being ugly “aesthetically challenged”.
And that HAS to be legitimate. And I HAVE to remind myself that it is legitimate.

I may wish that I looked differently. But that’s the way things ARE.
And so there is pain. And there are extremely valid reasons for the pain.
And so the pain is legitimate.

I am not having pain for no reason. I am not faffing over nothing. These are all very real things.

There is grieving to be done.

Don’t underestimate this pain, and don’t underestimate this grief.

It is real grief. There’s a real loss.
A loss of something that at some point was yours… or something you have been promised your whole life, but which never arrived… and never will.

Something that would have made you more… “human”. More “normal”.
More “worthy”. More “loveable”.
What are you without this thing that is supposed to be the main definer of your personhood?

Worse than grieving, even, because nobody understands us. We are supposed to just get over it; or cover it with make up.
Nobody will ever say “I’m sorry”. That would be “un-pc”.

Well, I’m saying it. I’m sorry.

I’m sorry

There’s real grief in things not turning up the way you want

And there is pain. And it needs to come out.

It’s the only way.

And I’m sorry.


Please, no comments about my appearance, positive or negative. This is about me and my perception of me. This is me working with my stuff and sharing it with you in the hope that it will help you work with your stuff.

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