10,000 women every month google the words "Am I ugly?" and after the week I have been having, I am not surprised why.
As some of you know, I am a Body Confidence Coach. Why? Because I believe there is a need for it. Approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape and what's worse is that they let this define their happiness and more importantly who they are as a human. As a fat person with spots on her face and scars all over her body, I am proud of who I am as a person. I believe I am a good person.
Over my 21 years on this planet, I have had 15 operations, a brain tumour, a punctured intestine, a brain cyst, a punctured intestine and a life-long condition called hydrocephalus and none of that hurt as much as the words people used to describe me this week. Despite my confidence, and my job title, they still hurt because I am human.
The first time was when I was volunteering in a children's hospital. I had been looking after two boys, when one decided to start calling me 'chinesey'.
"Yes I am Chinese, and I am also British"
"You can't be british! British people are pretty and you aren't pretty"
He began to start pulling his eyes while yelling 'I'm being racist', while the other decided to point out the spots on my forehead. This apparently made me not only ugly, but "gross and disgusting". Yes, they were children but what hurt me was where these words are coming from. These kids were 7 years old, and they had learnt not only these words but these beliefs from somewhere and that is what hurt me. It hurt me because having never experienced racism, it made me realise how alive it still is today.
It was following this instance on the same day that I went to see the doctor, and he began to lecture me about my weight. I have always received a lot of abuse in regards to my weight where in this world, 'fat' appears to be the most hurtful insult you can hurl at someone. I am fat. I have been fat since I was 11 years old. It is not the word that hurts me, it is associations people draw from my size. Yes, it is his job, yes it will affect my health and I appreciate that he was trying to do his best but what I do not appreciate is the snap judgement that I must be a lazy slob who sits on the couch and stuffs her face all day and the subsequent asking me to step on the scale as if I was being trialled for the biggest loser. I am an individual who has gone to the gym consistently for the last three years since my last hospitalisation and I am proud of that. Going to the gym is not about weight loss. It is about appreciation. Appreciating my body for the ability to run, one which I did not have in hospital and one which I refuse to take for granted again. Whether I need to lose weight or not, I do not believe I have to feel bad doing so. Telling me off about my size, was certainly not going to make an impact on my weight and never in my experience has hating my body ever made weight loss easier.
The last instance was two days later. I was having a meeting with a lady in a coffee shop, when a man had come up to us to compliment her on her appearance, and I agreed. She was beautiful! It even made me smile as I love when people spread compliments around. When I agreed,this man felt the need to comment on my appearance:
"You're alright, not great, but alright."
I have a belief that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. When I work with clients, I encourage them to stop comparing yourself to others as it sets you up for a losing battle but it's no wonder that young people and older ones alike are constantly feeling like they are competing not only with their peers but with supermodels to try and attain their standard of beauty when people are actively comparing you to each other in person.
I don't normally care about people's opinions, but this comment sent me over the edge. I had myself two bottles of wine (that'll be a lump of calories for you...), turned up the music and danced my ugly arse around my house with my housemate trying to hide the rest of the bottles in the house. Not the best coping mechanism but one which I thoroughly enjoyed. It hurt, I moped and I had a right to my emotions. Having been fortunate enough to grow up in a school where I never experienced bullying, this is the closest I have ever come to it and ... it sucked!
This week was not necessary. This week should not have happened to anyone and yet I realise that these are just small, insignificant comments compared to the comments people are receiving everyday from their husbands, wives, family, friends and strangers. This is why I do what I do, because you are not your body. Your body is your home, it is what allows you to move and accomplish all your goals. My weight will fluctuate, as everyone does but my happiness does not depend on it. Fat or skinny, scars or no scars, with or without spots I will still be the same stubborn, foul-mouthed, hyper individual that I have always been and I can guarantee that as offensive as those words were, to describe me, they are nothing in comparison to the words too many people out there are using to describe themselves.
I am not ugly, I am beautiful. I may be the only person in the world that thinks that but I am also the most important person in my world that needs to think that and the only person who's opinion matters.
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