Dear Mom at the Park: I Don’t Need Your Help to Feel Ugly

If you’ve ever met me in real life, or if you’ve followed my blog for a long time you might have noticed two things about me; I have a very crooked front tooth, and I have a lot of deep scarring on my cheeks from cystic acne in my teens. Even typing those words hurts, because it reminds me of years of bullying and being picked on as a kid. Kids are mean; and they are especially mean to kids that are different or have physical abnormalities, but last weekend I learned that some adults are mean too. 

On Sunday I dragged myself out of bed even though my back was incredibly sore to watch my son play his last soccer game of the season. As always I pulled myself together, put on some skinny jeans and a tee and some light makeup – I felt like I looked okay. Well a complete stranger, a woman I have never met who has a child that plays soccer with my son walks up to me and says (no hello, no introduction) ‘What happened to your face?’ I just froze as my 6 year old daughter looked at me and then her with confusion. I could feel the water filling up in my eyes and I tried to choke back the tears. In one instant I was back to the 8th grade when my best friend from elementary school told me she couldn’t be my friend anymore because my pimples grossed out the cool kids. I pulled it together and told her I had really bad acne as a teenager. She pressed on ‘well you must have picked at it to get scars like that.’ Yup, you are absolutely right lady; I wanted to be scared for life on on the inside and the outside so I picked at every single zit I had. I walked away trembling. 

inner-beauty-quotes-for-girls

The very next day I woke up feeling ugly – the kind of ugly that makes you never want to show your face to anyone. I tried to apply my favourite bright pink lipstick to cheer myself up, but then I didn’t want to call attention to my tooth. No amount of foundation could cover up my ugly scars. In the end the only thing that could help was a good ugly cry. Why did I get stuck with this face I thought to myself. It was the pity party of the century.

I’d like to say that I had some profound epiphany and found the answer but I really didn’t. Later on I reminded myself that she didn’t have acne scars so obviously she had no idea what it felt like to go through that. And the people that always offer me unsolicited advice on getting braces, or ask why I didn’t get them as a kid don’t know that I’m a child of immigrants who worked really hard to give their kids the best, but my dad was injured when I was 9 years old and couldn’t work anymore. My mom had a mortgage to pay and 6 mouths to feed and with no dental coverage, braces were really low on the list of priorities. The pain didn’t necessarily go away, but I was able to put it into perspective mainly because I married an awesome man who makes me feel beautiful all the time, and because I have good friends that love me for who I am inside not on the outside. 

imperfection-is-beautiful{My new mantra}

So if I didn’t really get over this experience then why am I sharing all this? I learned two very valuable lessons that I’d like to pass on. First; never ever point out the flaws of another woman. I don’t think I do this anyway, but I’ll be hyper vigilant about not doing it now. If someone has a scar, an uneven smile, or any physical abnormality, I promise you, she is painfully aware of it. As women we are really good at noticing our ‘flaws’ and amplifying them, we don’t need help with that. But more importantly (the second lesson); whenever possible tell the women in your life how beautiful they are.

Just a few days before my encounter with the ‘ugly woman’ I ran into a friend in the mall and when she walked away I thought to myself, she has the most beautiful smile – why don’t I ever tell her that? I had no answer to my question, so I promptly sent her a Facebook message to tell her how much I love her smile. It was simple and made both of us feel good. That is the kind of experience I want to duplicate in my life everyday. My run in with that random stranger made me realize how much power our words have over other people, and I want to use that power for good.

This is my challenge to myself from now on; try to compliment one woman in my life, or a total stranger everyday – will you join me? Let’s look for opportunities to make each other feel amazing and beautiful. I dare you to give out more compliments than me!

PS: I’m not angry at the woman anymore. When Zara asked me why someone would say something like that, I told her that sometimes when people don’t feel good about themselves, their words aren’t kind. Now I’m on a mission to feel good about myself, and raise a girl who feels good about herself, and uses her words for kindness too! 

 

 

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25 Comments

  1. July 31, 2014 / 12:02 pm

    Raj, when I look at you I don’t see your acne scars. I see your big beautiful brown yes, your pretty pink pouty lips and the way your whole face lights up when you smile. Your post was heartfelt and I wanted so badly to punch that woman in the face on your behalf. I think you handled yourself well. I think you’re right about how as women we need to tell each other more often just how beautiful we are because sometimes it’s just nice to hear it.

  2. July 31, 2014 / 12:03 pm

    Raj you have the most infectious laugh. Please don’t let anyone get you down by such rude remarks! Love ya!

  3. July 31, 2014 / 12:36 pm

    Raj! When I see you I see your beautiful bright eyes, and an opportunity for a hug (and maybe a chance to get into some trouble)! No one is meaner than a sad girl, that woman at the soccer field was clearly a very sad person. Hugs to you my friend!

  4. July 31, 2014 / 12:47 pm

    Raj! You are beautiful inside and out! Some people are just idiots! And you are right…we all need to tell our girlfirends how beautiful they are more often! Hugs! Angie xo

  5. July 31, 2014 / 2:42 pm

    Raj you are beautiful inside and out. *Bhel buddies for life*

  6. July 31, 2014 / 4:22 pm

    Thanks for all the lovely comments girls! I didn’t write this post hoping for compliments, but this makes me feel really good – you are all lovely souls 🙂

  7. July 31, 2014 / 4:27 pm

    Raj you are the most beautiful girl I ever met.You have a pour soul and heart.You are beautiful in and out.Love you.

  8. July 31, 2014 / 5:07 pm

    I am absolutely outraged that someone would say such ridiculous crap to you. I don’t know where people get off on this stuff – according to various relatives I have massively crooked lower teeth, lackluster hair, too small eyes, am either too skinny or too fat (in either situation my husband will leave me lol) – and at some point you just have to not give a shit. I have seen pictures of you quite a few times now and here is what I have noticed – you are really stylin’, so pretty, and have great hair.

  9. August 1, 2014 / 7:45 am

    I have never even noticed your “imperfections”. But, we are our worst critics huh? I don’t know you well but, we’ve crossed paths briefly before. You are gorgeous with a great sense of style. End of story. I’ve always yo-yo’d with my weight and have my own series of things I may not necessarily like but, I’ve always thought, once you’ve accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you. 🙂 So, if someone wants to call me fat, I say, “That’s all you got?” Hehe. 🙂 Great post, m’dere.

  10. Jan
    August 1, 2014 / 9:29 am

    I would have asked her “What happened to your brain?” I also have crooked teeth because my parents could not afford braces. No worries to my husband of 30 years, so no worries to me either. Your family and friends love you and that is all you really need.

  11. August 1, 2014 / 2:38 pm

    Raj, You are a beautiful person. I have not met you but I do like you as a person and I see nothing more than that.

  12. August 1, 2014 / 3:46 pm

    Beautiful post and I often have said this, women are more critical of themselves and other women.

  13. Anjali
    August 1, 2014 / 10:44 pm

    That woman’s words speak more about her superficiality and complete lack of common sense than about you or your appearance. It is truly sad that a person like that is responsible for bringing up a child. I shudder to think what kind of lessons her child is learning from her.

    As always, your honesty is courageous and your blog is fabulous!

  14. Randa
    August 4, 2014 / 2:17 am

    Hi Raj,

    Sorry to hear that this incident happened to you so many people are filled with hate and negative energy. I met you today at saif’s party. I’m Randa, Tamara’s sister. I just wanted to say that it was a pleasure to chat with you today and that your energy and passion for what you do is inspiring and infectious!
    Would love to hear more about your oil concoctions on your lovely blog!

    Best of luck,

    Randa

    • August 4, 2014 / 9:11 am

      Thank you so much for stopping by and the comment Randa – you are too sweet! It was so much fun chatting with you ladies today and I’m definitely inspired to share more about my love of oils and spices now 🙂

  15. momsandmunchkins
    August 4, 2014 / 1:00 pm

    Unfortunately, some people don’t think before they speak. I have my own list of “imperfections” that bring tears to my eyes when someone brings them up so I know how you feel.

    I’ve never met you personally but I heard you speak at a conference once and you were full of valuable information (a lot of which I still have written in my notebook). My impression of you was a bright, intelligent woman and I didn’t see any “imperfections” at all!

  16. August 4, 2014 / 1:07 pm

    Lovely post. I too suffered with acne as a teenager (and still do, though not as badly as I did), and it still hurts when anyone comments on my skin problems. I can’t imagine being so insensitive. I’m going to add “pay compliments” to my daily to do list 🙂

  17. August 4, 2014 / 1:44 pm

    I will start…with you…you are a GORGEOUS woman, Raj! After reading your blog, I just had to go and look at your picture. I do not see a woman scarred by acne, I see a beautiful woman I’d love to look like. Truly. As for your tooth, smile big, and be proud! Proud of your parents for what they went through and how they raised your family. Be proud of your tooth – it helps to make you, you. I was one of the lucky ones who went through 3 years of pain to make my teeth straight with braces. My parents spent a small fortune on my mouth. Today, 30 years later, my teeth are slowly making their way back to that crooked place in time. Thanks to the years, my teeth are no longer the straight beauties they once were. I often lament over that, but as of today, I will no longer do that. You’ve made me see that this is not something I should be worrying about…and I will continue to smile proud too..no matter how crooked they become 🙂

  18. August 4, 2014 / 1:47 pm

    Such an insightful post. When I look at you, I see a woman who rocks the most beautiful and bright colours with sheer confidence. Love your honesty and I will join you in complimenting one woman a day! A great initiative to boost each other instead of knock each other down.

  19. August 4, 2014 / 3:39 pm

    Maybe there’s a reason she has no filter. Maybe she has a mental health disorder or something. People are all dealing with their own ‘stuff’ and we can’t always understand it. But we can understand that what some twit says really has no importance in our lives unless we let it. For someone to hurt us with their words, we need to first give them power and then allow their words to matter to us. You’re worth more than her comments and you are lovely. Move on to better moments.

    • August 4, 2014 / 4:08 pm

      Good perspective Heather, it hadn’t even crossed my mind that there could be some medical reason for someone reacting like that. I completely agree that words only have power over us if we let them. I am trying every day to get better at managing my response to people’s comments rather than letting them get to me.

  20. August 4, 2014 / 4:07 pm

    I already try to compliment the women I meet each day. But your blog post just points out one more reason why it is so important to build people up instead of being insensitive or even outright cruel. Thank you for sharing your story. I saw this through Rebecca Coleman.

  21. August 5, 2014 / 7:42 am

    I think people have no filter sometimes. It happens for some reasons known to them only. I’ve had people who are less than acquaintances say to me “oh you’ve gone so fat, what happened to you”. As if I didn’t know when my jeans stopped fitting. I don’t even know how pointing out a physical “flaw” in someone remotely helpful.It used to bug me so much but now I don’t care. I normally smile and say it’s a sign of happiness (deep down I be cursing though).

    You’re a beautiful person Raj, inside and out. And I totally agree about complimenting one another; I really feel happy when I get compliments so I normally do it to random strangers. My husband thinks that makes me creepy lol.

  22. Melissa
    August 5, 2014 / 8:10 am

    I feel your pain. I have a very severe case of rosacea and all I hear from women are whats wrong with your face? I hate always trying to explain myself and no there is nothing I can do to get rid of it and yes I have gone to the doctors!

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