Why am I so ugly?

Dear Jenny,

You try to avoid mirrors, but instead, you feel drawn to them. Hard red bumps loom inevitably into view. Awful acne. You stare in dismay, wondering why you’re so ugly.

Everywhere you go, it seems like people are staring at you. Even when you put up your hand in class—excited to analyze William Blake or E.M. Forster—you still feel like hiding. Your normal self-confidence seems forced, fake. You blame your badly-behaved skin—and feel more miserable than ever.

Pray about acne? That you’ve done since the first offending spots appeared. You’ve had other physical healings before. If a clearer, sweeter view of God could heal you of a knee injury in high school, why not this? But nothing seems to be working. Instead of resting on God and on His perfection and beauty, your thoughts swirl with despair about your own ugliness. Even when you aren’t checking the mirror for the umpteenth time, you might as well be. In your mind, the screaming red marks loom large; sometimes, they feel like all you can think about.

At one point, you call a Christian Science practitioner for help, but quickly become frustrated when nothing seems to be changing. But something is changing. Something that, ten years later, you’ll still remember as a change much bigger than one particular healing. Those few days praying with the practitioner mark the beginning of a major change in the way you think about yourself. And though you don’t know it now, this thought-shift is going to make all the difference.

For as long as you can remember, you’ve thought of yourself as ugly. As less-attractive than your friends, than almost every girl you encounter.

“Tell me I’m ugly,” you’d say to your mom. “Tell me. Be honest.”

“You have spiritual beauty,” she’d say, trying to console you.

Instead, that just made you angrier. Why did everyone else get physical beauty while you got stuck with the spiritual kind—the kind no one could see?

So now, when the practitioner also mentions beauty, it triggers something. A dawning realization that perhaps your view of yourself could use a little beautifying. At first, you ignore it. You’re frustrated that the acne persists and contemplating beauty seems almost like a taunt. But the impulse to learn what real beauty is remains, and slowly but surely, you yield to it.

And what do you find? What you find is beautiful! You especially love this passage from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Beauty is a thing of life,” it says, “which dwells forever in the eternal Mind and reflects the charms of His goodness in expression, form, outline, and color. It is Love which paints the petal with myriad hues, glances in the warm sunbeam, arches the cloud with the bow of beauty, blazons the night with starry gems, and covers earth with loveliness.” 1

It touches your heart to discover that Love is responsible for covering the earth“including you”with loveliness. And you feel ashamed to deny your own beauty. After all, isn’t denying your God-given glory the same as denying God’s love for you? Maybe you still struggle with the idea that you’re beautiful, but you know God loves you. It’s time to acknowledge every facet of that love.

You’re learning other things about beauty, too. Like the fact that there isn’t material beauty and spiritual beauty. If God, Spirit, is All-in-all, then beauty could never exist in matter; it must be completely spiritual. That was what your mom had been trying to tell you all along—that the beauty you had was yours by reflection, just like everyone else’s. The day you grasp this for yourself, it seems like you’re looking at everyone, yourself included, with new eyes.

As for that adamant belief about your own unattractiveness? It vanishes. Suddenly, effortlessly, you feel beautiful—and it doesn’t take a mirror to tell you that you are. Still, even the mirror offers a changed view. The acne is gone, replaced by something more precious than clear skin alone. For the first time in your life, you’re living with the knowledge that God loves you enough to create you in Her likeness. Beautiful. Always.

Love,
Jenny

Notes:

  1. Science and Health p. 247

Comments

  1. Chloe says:

    My name is Chloe. I have a problem that I’m  not proud of. My best friend is perfect. In everything she is always better than me. She’s beautiful, smart, athletic, and everyone has a crush on her. Even the boy I’ve had a crush on for years likes her! And they WANT TO START A RELATIONSHIP! I often find myself screaming in my head to him “DONT LOVE HER LOVE ME! Please!” She’s not very helpful either. She’s always talking about how he calls her beautiful all the time. I want to be supportive. I want to be a good friend. But when you want to sob everytime she texts you a bit of their coversations … It’s really hard.

    • Kate says:

      Hi Chloe — I understand your heartache.  And there is a path out of this “dilemma” that is so simple I only wish I’d discovered it years before.  It’s appreciation.  Really.  The fact that you are aware of your friend’s beauty means that it is already a part of you — IN your consciousness.  And Mrs. Eddy says that “Consciousness builds a better body…”  When we appreciate (are grateful for) what we are aware of — whether it seems to be part of our immediate experience or not, it appreciates (grows in value) within us.

      The fact that you can see that each of your friends have qualities that are admirable, means that you are conscious of their value — beauty, confidence, strength, joy, kindness.  If you weren’t conscious of them, you wouldn’t even think to “want” them.

      It takes some practice.  It’s like a muscle that we haven’t exercised — the spiritual muscle of appreciating what we think we don’t include.  But once you get into the swing of it, you will start to acknowledge – with a sense of spiritual empowerment – that you ARE beautiful, because you include an awareness of beauty.  Deep that appreciation every day.  Smile a “secret” smile that you are filled with an awareness of, and appreciation for, all that is beautiful, good, and enduring.  You WILL see it grow in your experience.

      And you know what?  EVERYONE enjoys being with someone who recognizes and appreciate the beauty in them.

      with Love, Kate

      Here is a piece I wrote about my own struggles with “wanting” what I didn’t think I had:

      http://stoneriverstudio.blogspot.com/2014/04/pregnant-with-promise.html

       

  2. Jenny says:

    Ohmygoodnes.. My name’s Jenny and I think I’m uglyy. It’s making me really upset that everyone else tells me I”m beautiful when I’m nott. When I was 13 I had acne and I always walked around covering my face and was suree everyone was staring at me and I never wanted to go anywherree. Now I’m more paranoid about weight then my skin.. D: I don’t even know howw to change my view of myself.. It’s so bad.. I write down everything about my body I hate stupid chubbby face.. Huge forehead.. Bushy eyebrows.. and I carved ugly into my leg. :(

    • jenny says:

      Hi Jenny,

      You say you don’t know how to change the way you think about yourself, yet the fact that you came to read this blog, and left a message, tells me that you *want* to change. For me, that’s always the first step. I love that Mary Baker Eddy, whose ideas have been so helpful to me in understanding beauty better, said that “Desire is prayer.” So the yearning in your heart to think about yourself differently is actually a prayer. And God will answer that prayer.

      For me, there were a lot of different turning points in seeing my God-given, my Love-given, beauty. But I think the biggest step any of us can take is to focus more on our qualities than on our physical appearance. In spite of what the physical senses are screaming, the truth about me, and about you, and about everyone, is that we are not physical beings made up of bushy eyebrows or perfectly-arched eyebrows, an overweight physique or a slender one. We are the beautiful thoughts God is thinking about us. And as we let those thoughts characterize us–as we think more about ourselves as joyful, childlike, pure, free, intelligent, soulful, and lovely–all the physical junk (and that’s really what it is–just junk) will cease to be so overwhelming. It just won’t define you anymore.

      So make a list. Make a list of the qualities God created in you. God, Love, created you in the image of Love, so there isn’t room for a single bad quality in there–no matter what you think. You can even include qualities on that list that you can’t necessarily see in yourself yet, but that you know an all-loving God must have created in you. And then pick a quality each day to focus on. Let your day, your thoughts, your interactions with others, your reflections on yourself be infused with joy, or childlikeness, or purity, or grace–or whatever other lovely quality you’ve chosen. I promise this won’t just help you feel more beautiful; it will actually reveal your God-given beauty, which is there, right now, waiting for you to discover it.

      Lots of love to you!

  3. Kate says:

    Dear Jenny (and all)

    Thank you for sharing your stories, concerns, and insights.  I have been touched by your honest willingness to do so.

    There was a time when I felt like I was always comparing myself to others.  Whether it had to do with body image, professional success, what I saw in the mirror, or how my life goals were falling into place.  Feeling beautiful or ugly had more to do with how I felt in the context of others.  I would see someone’s life, face, body, career, family, marriage and either feel worse or better about myself.  And it was ususally worse.  I never seemed to measure up in my own eyes.

    One of the most remarkable “healings” (for me) came when I realized that the very things I was able to identify as admirable, lovely, desirable in someone else were really already dwelling in my own consciousness (or i would not have been able to see their goodness and value).

    And if I was conscious of their value, able to appreciate their goodness, they were already part of me…part of my experience.  What I appreciated (saw the value of) appreciated (grew in value) as I nurtured my own willingness to love its presence in my life — wherever it appeared — in my own body of experience, or in another’s.  I was still aware of it.  That made it part of me.

    Taking down the “walls” of personal sense allowed beauty, happiness, joy, strength, affection, love to flow effortlessly throughout my life.  It mattered less whether the beauty, success, joy, wellness that I was aware of was outside of the boundaries of my own skin, my home, my “life” — if I was conscious of it as having worth, it was part of me.

    There is an old saying that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”  I believe that this is not just a timeless axiom, but a law that we can count on.   The word “behold” doesn’t just mean “to see,” but “to see and call attention to,” or to “see and acknowledge.”  When we see (and call attention to) beauty anywhere and in anyone, it becomes ours.   It transforms us.  Mary Baker Eddy says that, “Consciousness constructs a better body when faith in matter has been given up.”   It is our consciousness of beauty that makes us beautiful.  There is nothing more beautiful, attractive, lovely than to be with someone who sees us as we are — beautiful.  I love Eddy’s statement, “Love never loses sight of loveliness.”    Those who see (and call attention to) beauty, grace, strength, etc. never fail to be beautiful, graceful, strong, etc. to us.

     

    • jenny says:

      Thank you, Kate. I just saw this for the first time and love what you’ve articulated here, especially this:

      “There is an old saying that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I believe that this is not just a timeless axiom, but a law that we can count on.  The word “behold” doesn’t just mean “to see,” but “to see and call attention to,” or to “see and acknowledge.” When we see (and call attention to) beauty anywhere and in anyone, it becomes ours. It transforms us.”

      So true, and so incredibly beautiful. I’ll be thinking about this further!

  4. onlylove says:

    Hi jenny, thanks for sharing this really nice healing.

    I’ve been fighting the same problems for several years now, and have had some rough times in the past. I can definitely see your point with the self-image, that you need to see your inner beauty, and acknowledge that whatever appears on the outside is completely irrelevant. Over the years I have grown into that, found a new self image and acceptance from others because of other qualities I express, and the acne on my face and neck has almost completely vanished.

    I’m still currently working on acne that appears on my shoulders, chest and back. I’m not sure exactly why the so-called “problem” has only been half solved so far, but i can only guess that I haven’t reached the appropriate level of understanding yet. I tend to push any thoughts of ugliness or often embarrassment (when I have to take my shirt off) out of my head, instead of dealing with them, and consciously negating them with what I know to be true. I know I am not an ugly person, the reason why I am not ugly though is not a material reason, but a spiritual one, one that has it’s source in my identity as God’s reflection.

    Another big point I’ve been noticing with myself is that often I catch myself sizing other people up, or judging them by their looks. People in the bus, on the street, wherever I see them, I often quickly make a judgement as to wether they are nice people or not, depending on their looks. Today I realized that that has to stop. Everyone I meet and see on the street or wherever is (just like me) a reflection of all of God’s qualities (Life, Love, Soul, intelligence, beauty etc.). Everyone!

    So, this is a work in progress. I’m sticking with it, and I’m very grateful for the road I’ve traveled to get this far. Thanks for your thoughts!

    -onlylove

  5. April says:

    This post is amazing
    I’m going through the hell they call ‘pubrity ‘ at the moment and this really mean something .
    We all feel so different , but thats what makes us induvidual i guess

    Thankyou x

  6. Suzette says:

    Thanks Love;)

    For sharing this victory which helps silence the yack the world tries to deliver.

    Keep it coming!!!
    XXOOO

  7. Barbara from O'Fallon, Missouri says:

    This is the perfect blog to share with my daughter who is really into fashion, make-up, hair, and her appearance. I’ve sent her articles from the Christian Science Sentinel when she was away at camp, but this seems more appropriate for her “just-turned-fifteen” setting in a new school as a freshman. Everything is so different from what she has been used to all her life–even catching the bus. Anyway, thanks for this look into how to view our true natural beauty which has nothing to do with what the mirror says we “look like.” It’s an attribute of Soul and it is forever unchanged, unchanging, unchangeable! It’s also perfect for the holiday (HOLY DAY) season when so much attention is placed on materialism and beauty products at a high price–turning to matter not Spirit!

  8. Anonymous says:

    This makes an impact on me. How has it impacted your life since? Do you feel good about the way you look or do you still have insecurities like the rest of us?

    • jenny says:

      I definitely still have insecurities, especially because I work in a field that’s VERY image-centric. It can be all too easy to get caught up in the subtle belief that beauty resides in matter, in a certain body type, hair type, etc. My approach to dealing with this is to just keep going back to that central lesson of this healing: that beauty is, indeed, spiritual, and that it resides in God, so we each have it–abundantly and consistently–by reflection. The more disciplined I am about seeing beauty as a spiritual quality that can never be lost or compromised, the happier and more at peace I feel.

    • jenny says:

      Oh, but I should also add that there’s no way I would ever be able to work in this field if it weren’t for this healing! So it’s had a huge, positive, ongoing impact on me, even if life still continues to provide opportunities for more growth. :)

  9. Natalie Zdan says:

    What a beautiful demonstration. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Linda says:

    That’s so Sweet; thank you so much

  11. itsaboutgood says:

    Such a powerful testimony of knowing true beauty and feeling real, divine Love! I experienced something similar in high school and DID go to a dermatologist. He prescribed a bunch of junk pills and I paid a lot for them. I also bought topical cures that cost even more money that used good looking “beautiful” celebs to vouch for their potency. And what ended up happening?

    My acne disappeared just a few weeks after THROWING EVERYTHING AWAY.

    And, like you Jenny, I found that the growth from prayer came from feeling closer to God and more and more aware of the true beauty that lies WITHIN all of us. Not without according to material standards.

    The Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, tells us that, “Longevity is increasing and the power of sin diminishing, for the world feels the alterative effect of truth through every pore” (224).

    Thank you for your courage and spiritual articulation of this very truth. You’ve shared your true beauty with all of us. Your demonstration is being felt by others all over the world.

  12. Amy says:

    Having seen Jenny’s beautiful and clear skin, I have no doubt that she made the right choice for her. But it is a choice of course. :)

    Sometimes I’ve had the same line of thinking Brad. Not necessarily about taking some meds instead of praying, but more often about decision-making (for instance when I hear someone say “I prayed to know (something that seems like maybe it’s not worthy of prayer to me).” But I’ve been realizing that it’s not so much that I’m not praying (I’m always open to divine inspiration), but that I might not express it the same way. I’m trying to be more open to appreciating the way others live their lives when it’s different than my way. It’s not always easy…. ;)

    • jenny says:

      That’s a good point, Amy. I think there might be a misperception out there that Christian Scientists pray about things because they’re “supposed to” or that they’re indoctrinated to. And while I do think that prayer is a natural response for me because I was raised as a Christian Scientist, I often remind myself that I never want to do anything just because it’s “what I’ve always done.” Likewise, I want to see the same for others–that their response to any situation is between them and God, and that I can’t make any assumptions about it. I can’t know what’s in their heart any more than they can know what’s in mine. It’s a much more loving and judgment-free (and supportive!) way to live. :)

  13. Ginny says:

    Gordon, agreed! This takes a lot of courage! I love that you identified what needed to be changed in your thought–working to see TRUE beauty in yourself, you can identify and cherish that beauty in others. Start writing here…

  14. kayleigh says:

    Thank you for your honesty. You make a great point about the fact that the only thing that needs healing or beautifying is our own view of ourselves. We are never trying to fix matter. When we remove the material lens and see ourselves the way that God made us (see Genesis ch. 1), then the healing occurs. And the only thing that has changed is our thought.

  15. BradCarling says:

    Yes, I agree that this was a very touching testimonial. There was undoubtedly much good “mental” work going on here.

    However, I have to be quite honest as to what my initial reaction was. I kept saying to myself, “Why didn’t she just go to a dermatologist.” I am sorry, but I think that would have been what I would have done.

    • Gordon says:

      She walked away from this experience with something that no dermatologist could have sold her: self esteem, self confidence, an increased trust in God’s caring protection, and LOVE! (and the list goes on…)

    • jenny says:

      True, Brad. That’s certainly a legitimate route that many choose to take. However, having seen my best friend go through something similar, and having watched her try several acne medications to no avail–to this day, she still struggles with acne, and has some scarring from earlier episodes–I can’t agree with you that “just going to a dermatologist” would have necessarily solved the problem.

      Additionally, as Gordon points out, the rewards were far greater than clear skin, and I really wouldn’t trade them for anything, even given the earlier struggle. The issue was never really with the acne; it was with a mistaken, ugly view of myself that God helped me release and reform. To me, that’s the real beauty of this healing. :)

  16. James says:

    Thanks for this. I struggled with the same things during high school and wish I handled them as well as you did.

  17. Gordon says:

    Wow! What courage. This post is really touching. Thank you for sharing.

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