I got an attack of the “Uglies” yesterday. It was a vicious attack. So unfair, unplanned and unexpected. I was in a tech shop playing with phones and took an unflattering photo of myself in an unflattering direction. I know. But it happened. I didn’t mean for it to happen. The phone was there, my neck was there, the shock came in and well….you can understand. Or at least some of you in a certain age category understand.
Yes, I had had an intense meeting with and about my oldest son 2 hours before. Yes, I cried and felt feelings that I don’t even allow myself to feel most of the time. Yes, we had had a nice lunch and things were at least in the moment, good.
I am aware that I was probably having a transference of feelings from one situation to another. I knew it at the time. Often we get overwhelmed by a seemingly small situation, avoiding feeling our feelings, for the large situation. But no matter what I told myself, how I tried to take hold of my thoughts and perform a course correction for those negative thoughts, it wasn’t happening.
When one gets an attack of the Uglies, it is hard to work through. I KNEW the photo was not an accurate reflection of how people view me. (“Or was it?” I wondered). The Uglies had their own mind and had taken over mine. My soul was being crushed with untruths and no matter how I tried to think different thoughts, that one photo kept making it’s way into my conscious thoughts reminding me of my fears of my worth.
I haven’t experienced such a brutal attack in a long time. I think that’s why this encounter shocked me so. I thought I had improved my self-esteem enough that the Uglies couldn’t attack me so viciously.
Recently I had been going through my clothes again with a friend of mine. I put on every pair of pants and every skirt I own, and we would stand in front of a mirror and talk openly, and productively about what was flattering, what she saw, what I saw, how I felt, etc, and I got rid of 4 bags of clothes. It has been nice to know that every pair of pants I put on, I can feel good in.
I have even started weeding through jewelry and giving away what makes me happy and looks attractive. Some pieces truly don’t flatter me and they just sit in a box year after year.
When I see myself nude in the mirror and have the first thought about a flaw, I immediately correct the thoughts with things like, “You are strong. You are lovable. Beautiful!”
But I must remember that there may be times when I’m vulnerable emotionally about something unrelated to my looks, and therefore susceptible to an Uglies attack. I REFUSE to let the Uglies win. I refuse to listen to their message. I refuse to panic. I refuse to punish myself.
I inhale breaths. I slow down. I think about what is beautiful in the world. Usually nature comes to mind. I breathe and breathe. I remember to focus on nature and her power.
I take a nap. Often sleep helps.
I reach out to a dear friend and say, “Help.”
I make a crockpot of delicious soup. Nourishing myself feels like a direct assault on the Uglies.
I confirm that I am loving and wise. I tell myself I am enough.
And if I don’t panic, the Uglies eventually pass. It may take awhile, but they do pass. Looking for another photo of me taken while I was happy, helps. When I’m happy, my flaws don’t shine. My force of nature comes through. My love comes through. I choose to focus on those moments. Fortunately I have so many more beautiful moments!
Amy – if it helps, the next time you have an attack of “The Uglies” – I would like you to know that I consider you to be one of the most unique, exuberant, beautiful women I have ever met. I would be upset with anyone (including you) who tried to convince me otherwise. You are truly a force of nature. I am grateful for you, as are hundreds, if not thousands of people you have helped and inspired through WW. Sincerely, Rebecca
I’ve had a severe case of the ugliest lately. I even went to a plastic surgeon to see what I can get done. His recommendation was a facelift, tummy tuck, thigh lift, and breast left. I left feeling even worse. After talking with my sisters and close friends, I realized I only see flaws. I needed to get over the superficial changes in my body and embrace my strengths.
Ever since I read your blog yesterday I’ve been thinking about it. I think at one time or another we all feel the “uglies.” When I look in the mirror and see all my wrinkles or when I gain weight I get them. We are all so hard on ourselves, aren’t we? I think the “uglies” live somewhere in our minds and sneak up on us as you described. Just remember you are a terrific person and a definite “force of nature.” Here comes a HUUUUUGE hug!
Hi Amy, I can so relate to the uglies. I needed to read that today. Thank you.
Hi Amy!! I just had a conversation with a friend about this very thing before I read ur article. California is so much more focused on looks than many other places. I look in the mirror and see an ugliness that age delivers so much so that I stopped looking in mirrors. I can try different makeup, different clothes, even different lighting. But it all feels the same inside. M so blessed to know I am not alone. Thank for sharing