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You Are Not Ugly

Ashwini Murali, Bay Area, CA


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 ​For as long as I can remember, I’ve been insecure about my looks, my face, my hair, my body. Perhaps it is because I’m a teenager, and these are natural things to feel, but perhaps not. Perhaps my whole life, I will never know what it is to be content with the way I look. I can name at least three guys who have told me I don’t look attractive this year alone, which does wonders to the self-esteem, as you may imagine. But you know what? Try as I might, I really can’t imagine ever meeting an ugly woman. So, what is beauty, then, if it differs from me, if it differs from you?

It’s funny, the way society works. They tell you looks don’t really matter, and then when you’re shamed for not being attractive, you become even more despondent, but negativity and self-pity aren’t attractive qualities to possess, of course. Being happy is. But how can I be happy if I’m not attractive? I can name so many things I want to change about myself that it isn’t even funny. And the unfortunate thing is I know there are countless girls out there just like me. I’ve talked to some of my friends about feeling ugly, and funnily enough they all told me I was pretty while claiming they were the ugly ones. So is this just a construct of our mind? Do we all feel uglier than we look? I’ll give you a hint: you’re not ugly. But what is ugly are the excessively unreasonable expectations of women to be the prettiest, reinforced by both men and women.

I’m not perfect, I don’t know what I want, I’m still so young, still so susceptible to feeling ugly, but you know what? Why should any of that matter? Why are we all being judged on something we can’t even control beyond a certain extent? Looks don’t last forever, but what’s on the inside does. Maybe you won’t realize that now, but one day you will think about how silly you were for caring what others thought of you.

The most beautiful people I have ever met, they are not exactly pretty by conventional standards: they are the ones who always put others first, the ones who never expect anything in return, who have endured pain but know that they are the sole captains of their ship. Beautiful is about having depth, a buoyant spirit, a caring nature. And the more I think about it, the more I realize how ugly the word ‘pretty’ is. The only purpose of the word is to separate women into two categories: ugly and pretty. But people are not black-and-white, they cannot fit into neat little boxes. The truth is there are so many types of beautiful, and no types of ugly.

You are not ugly, never think that. I may not know you, but I know that the thing you want to change about yourself the most is the thing someone else may love about you the most. I’ve been there, I’ve felt like no one will ever love me, like no guy would ever love me. But the thing is, why do I even care about what guys think? My friends are genuinely some of the sweetest people I know, and if I were to ever value a man’s opinion about me, I would want it to be someone just like my friends. You don’t need a guy to make you happy, or to tell you what you are and aren’t. But what you can do is accept yourself, love yourself, and know that everyone appreciates a beautiful spirit.

This article originally appeared on Ladki Love's blog. Ladki Love is a nonprofit organization that aims to promote the wellbeing and education of all women through awareness campaigns, fundraisers, and donations.

To learn more about Ladki Love and how you can contribute, visit

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