You're ugly. Now what?

One of the things I love to read and say is that we are all beautiful just the way we are. If I have to be absolutely honest though, this is not true. We are not all beautiful - at least according to society's standards on physical beauty - and we are wasting our time fooling ourselves into believing otherwise.

These days, we hear soothing messages that it's ok to be fat. It's okay to have bad skin. It's ok to not be perfect. Even so, why are so many of us still experiencing self-loathing and a desire to spend, spend, spend time and money on the next big thing that can promise us what we most desire?

Because of recent weight gain and the fact that I'm losing more hair due to stress, I have been feeling especially shitty about how I look like lately. I would stare at the mirror and feel a cold sweat as I ask myself: How did this happen? Don't I exercise enough? Don't I eat right? Wait, where did that pimple come from? If I were prettier I would be more successful. I wish I hadn't eaten the chocolate last night.

I have always thought that I've accepted my lot in life. Short of surgery, I will never look like a model. I can use all the expensive makeup and skincare in the world and read all the self-help I could but this is my face. I am objectively unattractive the more I gain weight, too.

I was struck the other day when XiaXue, a famous Singaporean lifestyle blogger, shared a photo of 16-year old self beside her current face. She has always been open about her plastic surgeries in the past so this did not come as a surprise. She said, "Whatever happened to loving yourself just the way you are born? That's so stupid I can't even. Great for you if you can find inner peace with your ugliness and all, but not everyone can."

That was mean, but the last part hit home.

I have not yet found inner peace, until I read this article by XOJane. It says that it's ok to be ugly because there are other more important things to worry about and accomplish.

It's something I have been mulling for a while. What if it didn't matter at all whether you are beautiful or not?

I find the idea difficult to accept because I know for a fact that looking physically attractive helps careers and relationships more than being downright ugly and poorly groomed. I can't imagine myself going to meet clients with zero makeup and an ill-chosen outfit the same way I can't imagine going to the same meeting with zero preparation for my pitch.

In the ideal world, society will place little value on physical beauty. We would all be free to go on with our lives, showing our competence and genius unhampered by the obsession to achieve physical perfection.

But we do not live in an ideal world.

The current zeitgeist on beauty is that everybody is already beautiful, so we should be happy with how we look. There is another movement saying being beautiful should not matter at all. But this is my proposition: beauty is useful, so we should use it as a tool to get ahead. It is not the ultimate goal. It is a stepping stone we could all take advantage of to do greater things, whatever they may be.

We do not need to achieve absolute beauty like XiaXue - surgery, makeup, unhealthy eating and all - but we can not discard beauty as an archaic concept like the XoJane author did. (Unless human beings shed their mortal coil and our consciousness gets uploaded to a computer or something).

We can try to look our most beautiful to give ourselves the best chances in love and life. For some it is easier, for others it may take a lot of work. The first step is accepting that you're ugly (if you are) and then doing something about it if you are so inclined. 

If you don't want to, that's cool too. Different things matter to different people, and you have the absolute right to decide how you want your face and your body to look like. There are consequences, of course - let's stop pretending that there aren't - but as long as you recognize them and own your decision, then the self-loathing will stop. 

Isn't that what we want, more than the latest slimming trend or the hottest contour kit? To just stop hating ourselves for things that may be within or beyond our control. The ownership of our imperfections and inactions is the way to inner peace. You have to Frank Underwood the shit out of your decisions so that you can live with them.

Thoughts? Are you happy with how you look? Or you DGAF?