You are not ugly. Don’t make videos.

You’re not ugly.

Not in the least. Don’t make those videos. Take them down if they are up. You don’t need people to tell you how beautiful you are on there. You don’t need to put yourself in the position to be judged that way. You are better than that and you deserve the very best in life. If I could come through this screen and tell you and show you and bolster you and buoy you up and raise you high above all the bad shit you are going through – so your spirit is free and you feel like you are flying, I would. I’d give anything if I could find a way to show you how lovely and perfect you are. If you’d believe me when I say you are amazing, you are the only you in the world and that makes you special and precious and holy, truly one of a kind – it would make me the happiest.

I thought I was so ugly for so long and I wasted so much of my life on this dumb notion. I punished myself and avoided my reflection in mirrors and any windows. I would see myself reflected back and I would look away, trying to pretend I didn’t exist because I hated myself so much. I hated the way I looked and it started early on. My father found a school project from 1st grade, where I had written on a photo of myself that I looked like a flat faced mummy – and firstly, how does a kid that young know what a flat faced mummy is and secondly, I cry at my own self judgement and thirdly, I was such a cute kid. Imagine my face and then miniaturize it in your mind until the age of 6. I know, fucking adorable.

One day I looked at myself and I thought, shit, this is it. this is what I look like. No amount of self hatred is going to change my appearance. I am who I am. I am stuck with this and I have to love it or else I am going to die early from my own suffering and idea that I got shortchanged in the looks department.

Why go through life feeling cheated? It does nothing but make you bitter. I don’t want to be bitter. I want to be better. I want you to be better. I don’t want you to waste all those years like I did. I didn’t get to the point of feeling real good about myself until my 40s. that was pretty much 40 years of uninterrupted self loathing that I had no need for. I never got to enjoy my youth, and I was a gorgeous kid and I missed it because I hated myself for no reason. I am kicking myself because I missed out on so much happiness because I had this idea that I was ugly that I couldn’t shake, that was supported by others – as they had their own issues with self hatred and so took it out on me. I don’t want you to miss out on a minute of your fantastic lives.

Let’s just say I am right, you are beautiful, end of story. I have so much love for you and I want your lives to be richer, happier and better than mine. I want to make these mistakes so you don’t have to. Like on a group ride when the leader rides ahead and can alert you to the potholes and other dangers on the road. I am just pointing them out to you because I have been there. I know this place, this life and I have some advice. I hope you take it.

48 thoughts on “You are not ugly. Don’t make videos.

  1. girlfriend-

    you ARE beautiful. you have always been beautiful and will always be beautiful.

    is it not so sad that we have to br raised up with this negative shit? I’m 54 and still working on it.


    😉 you cute thing, YOU! xo

  2. Margaret: I relate so completely with nearly everything you write, and the experiences you share. This is no exception. I spent most of my life thinking I was hideous, avoiding mirrors and hating myself. I refused to make friends with “pretty people” because I felt like I should apologize for even being in their world and they shouldn’t even have to look at me.
    Six years ago I came out and somehow that had an amazing affect on my self image and my confidence! Suddenly I felt GORGEOUS!!! I still have some days when I feel frumpy and unattractive, but those moments are fleeting.
    I love the way you celebrate your own beauty and the beauty of others, there is so much beauty in this world that goes unappreciated and ignored, and even unseen, because of the socialized preconceptions of beauty. The world needs more people like you, Margaret.
    Blessed Be,

  3. It truly saddens my soul to see when someone is hurting because they hate who they were born to be…so cut and paste their natural features…I went through that my whole life the bittersweet comments like u are so pretty if you could loose 20 more pounds or if your hair was straight…all I wanted to do was go down the toilet with my lunch as I killed myself with binging and purging…a disorder that will hunt me for the rest of my life…only to see ny own daughter now struggle with self esteem because we are bigger females we R Amazons…hard being almost 6ft tall and expected to weight what 5ft women weigh… I am looking foward to helping my beautiful Daughter TyTy find her Butterfly self! Margaret She and I LOVE YOU…she thinks your amazing!

  4. I have always thought you attractive. Attractive, not just for your physical form, by your humor and balls-to-the-walls attitude. Today, you are a goddess for all those attributes topped off with intelligence and compassion. That is, truly, you are beautiful.

  5. My aunts used to call me La Bella Lola (Lovely Lola, after a song from their mother’s youth)…at school I was told I was anything but…every single day…every single friggin’ fraggin’ day. My sister would brush my hair to “bring out” my better features…she’d brush it all towards my face, covering everything. I was picked on and made fun of every single day, and I believed it…like a sucker I believed THOSE people rather than accept the judgment of my wonderful aunts, who knew better and would say “oh, sweetie, you don’t want to be “beautiful” because those women who are beautiful end up being, well, a shadow of their former selves. You want to be you, and you want to be smart…that doesn’t go away.”

    I am GORGEOUS! My husband says so, and he’s known me for well over thirty years…back when I had braces, pimples, Lady Di’s haircut…and he knows me know that I got rid of my hair, have wrinkles, bags under my eyes, and I’m fluffy from having children and watching them grow.

    I am gorgeous. I am smart. I am funny. I’ve yet to meet a woman who is truly ugly, but I’ve met plenty of mean ones who are made vile by their attitude towards others.

    You are gorgeous, Margaret, and smart and funny, and you make us all remember that we are who we are whether people like us or not, and that the important thing is that we like and love ourselves…

  6. that was itself beautiful…and Ms Cho, I, too, have always thought you were a knockout…in your comedy AND your looks. I am a 60-yr-old guy whose face was ravaged by acne and i have dated some truly beautiful women. Always I wondered how someone who looked liked me could get these beauties. It’s our INSIDE beauty that people see and the real humans look past external appearances. Even at 60, I still get smiles and greetings from women I don’t know. Just smile and the world smiles with you…peace, pb

  7. Blessed be, Margaret! These kids need to hear how great they are for someone other than their family. If they love you, they’ll listen. 🙂

  8. Thank you so much for your frank talk about feeling ugly. I couldn’t have said it better myself and I think it’s the most important message that we can put out there today. You are lovely. Like you, it took me 40 years to feel that way myself.

  9. Thank you for writing this. I don’t know a single woman out there who has not had some sort of body issues at some point in her life. I remember going through a time where I hated how I looked. I hid myself behind bulky clothes and slouched to hide my height. It took me nearly 30 years to begin to be comfortable with my body. It would be nice to raise a generation of women who don’t have these issues.

  10. Love is your gift that can withhold or share.

    The amount of love you have within you is unlimited. The amount you share is your choice.

    Withholding love from people who would hurt you is understandable but probably unwise.

    Withholding love from those who could be your friends is ungenerous and unwise.

    Withholding love from yourself is sad.

    Having read this far, please know that your love is precious. Immerse yourself within it, and share it with everyone who values it.

  11. Oh my, I felt the same way you did when I was younger. When I was 5, in kindergarten, a mean classmate told me everyday that I’m ugly. I took her word for it, and I believed her! Growing up, I thought I was ugly. I wanted to look like other girls who were taller and fairer-skinned (I’m 4’11, and still the same height!).

    I’m in my mid-twenties now, and I realized that hey, I’m beautiful, and I don’t need to look a certain way. Beauty comes more from inside. Beauty is useless if your heart is ugly. I wish those tweens posting those videos will realize they’re doing more bad than good.

    By the way, looks change when you get older. You may not look that good as a teen, but wait ’til you get to your roaring twenties, or even older than that! Beauty is flexible, and always subjective. If you feel beautiful, you can just stick your middle finger at people who call you ugly. Thanks for writing this Ms. Cho! You made my day.

  12. For a long time, I’ve admired you for leaving Lowell, consciously or not. My peculiar set of circumstances that made me feel like I couldn’t leave, so I suffered through.

    I’ve been rooting for you. When I see this video, it makes me happy. You seem joyful.

    It was a long struggle, but I found joy, too.

  13. I just wanted to say that this piece is one of the most inspiring, beautiful, and necessary things I’ve read in a very long time. I really hope that young people listen to your advice and take it to heart. It’s really true.

  14. Good for you for realizing you are not ugly while you were in your forties! I still haven’t realized that. My belief that I am ugly has poisoned my life, and is such a part of me that I can hardly imagine being free of it, except that in my imagination I am handsome, that was how I coped with it. When I was talking to a woman I liked I imagined I looked sexy. I could see my imaginary face very clearly and it allowed me to be charming. Then I would see myself in the mirror or a photograph, and it all came back like a pile of bricks. People always said “You’re not that bad!”, never “You’re handsome!” or even worse, “You’re beautiful inside!” I have been writing about an imaginary relationship with a stock photo girl lately, and the reader only sees the stock photo girl, never myself. Why? I thought my ugly mug would ruin the story. Isn’t that nuts? So. maybe I’ll include my photo too. I’ll consider it.

  15. Thank you for this! I have a 13 year old daughter (she’s Korean and BEAUTIFUL). And she and all her little friends do this all the time! OMG, they are so pretty and its all drama. I know its normal and we talk all the time, but being the mom – well, my message is “tainted”. : )

    So thanks for this – I am passing it along to the moms and daughters I know who are going through this. Its insane. THEY ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL!

    Thank you.

  16. I’m mixed race (father black/white; mother Creek/black). Told I was ugly by each group, half breed, picanini, mongrel, wanna-be. At home 3 bros, parents, grandparents said-genius and cute. Somehow by the time I started school and heard the daily taunts–I believed those who love me. Looking back at the pictures I was pathetic: allergies made my eyes red and swollen, my nose runny, my mouth gape and because or cord ozone, my body puffy. But my self image unbreachable, built through the eyes of family as first girl child with lots of vocal agility and some mental acuity.

    Key to self worth is great blind eye loving.

  17. Very insightful and inspirational. I also wasted my youth thinking I was ugly. It really was self-inflicted. Even though I was bullied as a kid, because I was “different,” I also would be told how handsome or cute I was. I was always confused. As I got older, I’d be confused when a man would approach me. “Who me?,” I thought. I’m in my 40s and still having issues with self-perception.

    Your essay does help.

    Much love…

  18. Oh Margaret, I want to believe you so badly… Not about ugly vs. beautiful, I’ve come to terms with looking how I look and certain people taking issue with it and me not giving a flying fuck. But I wish I believed you when you say we deserve all good things in life. I want to, but I don’t.

    And I think, as a fellow survivor, you must somehow understand why. How being molested leaves a stain on your soul, and why it feels so insurmountable… Part of me wants to live, to flourish, to be beautiful and unabashedly me. But there’s a hate monster living in my heart, who looks an awful lot like me, and she insists that I don’t deserve anything. Not to live, not to die. Not even horrible things– because that would still mean deserving *something.*

    I hope I believe you one day, Margaret.

  19. Try having a longer pointy nose and being called a man and it’s not the only thing people point out when they remind me how ugly I am. I am 24 and it’s destorying my life and putting a strain on my marriage.

    My husband says I am pretty, cute, beautiful but I have a hard time believeing him and always fear is cheating on me with better looking girls but yet if he is, I couldn’t blame him. I feel bad for him, other guys have such pretty girls but yet he is stuck with me..

    It’s hard to feel pretty when society has very clear views on what they say is pretty and not. You have to have the right features and body type. I hate myself so bad that I have thought of suicide, it makes going out impossible for me, I have a hard time talking to people in public and have to have my husband do it for me I go out the door always looking in windows/mirrors feeling so ashamed.

    In our society, looks are a huge deal and more so if you are a girl. I have been treated like crap since I was 5 and still am at 24 for my looks. I just want to be treated like a human-being and not like trash.

  20. Thanks so much for this post. I resonate so much with this. When I think of how much I disliked or even hated my body when I was younger — or at the very least didn’t appreciate how gorgeous I actually was! — it makes me both sad and angry. What a waste! How silly! How tragic.

    I’m just starting to come out of some of this now, at nearly 50 years old. It’s too late for me to be happy in the body I had in my youth, but I can still start loving myself better NOW, in the body I have now. (In fact, I wrote a whole post about it in my own blog recently,

    I’m incredibly happy that my own teen daughter doesn’t struggle as much as I did, about this. She still lives in our culture, so she’s not free of it completely, but I’ve worked very hard to not pass my own insanity directly on to her. And so far, it seems to be working. *crossing fingers*

    Thank you, Margaret, for your voice, and this much-needed post. If I hadn’t already thought you were awesome, this would have solidified it for sure!

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  22. Hi Margaret, I really enjoyed what you wrote that it gave me that “almost tear”. It really touched me. I’ve been hating myself for the last 7-8 years that I’ve been in a downward spiral. I’m a functional drug user who maybe wishes to be seen for who I am. Maybe then and only then could I get the help I probably need. If it wasn’t for my family I’d really have no reason for being on this beautiful earth(some sarcasm). I’m 28 now, 29 this year, in a mind state of not wanting to move on in my life, maybe I’m just afraid of change, maybe I’ve just only able to handle a certain amount of life and then shut down…enough with my rant. Time to live the rest of my life wasting away

  23. I’m very fortunate to find body positive resources early in my life. I’m 24 and I’ve wholeheartedly loved my body for about 6 months (still late, but better late than never) 🙂 Thanks for the beautiful words and reminder!

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