ugly duckling copy2


For most of my life, whenever I body bash, there are others around me who tell me that I am beautiful.  I cannot recall times when anyone has ever agreed with my criticisms of body disgust and ugliness.  However, recently, someone close to me called me the ugly duckling.  At first, I felt shocked and thought that there was no way that person could have really meant it.

But then as it started to sink in, many other feelings took over—hate, anger, shame, and a profound fear that it is the truth—that it is some cavernous secret that I have tried to cover with makeup, fashion, and false smiles exuding confidence that I did not really feel.  I felt an immense shame and disgust, first that the comment bothered me as much as it did, and second, that some days I think it is true.  These feelings made me question who I am, and reevaluate whether Intuitive Eating is even working.  I immediately wanted to diet, get skinnier, waste away into a paper-thin empty shell—something I have not wanted to do almost since starting Intuitive Eating.

Now, the person who made the comment of ugliness did not cause all this.  It was merely a trigger that dug into my deepest fear and needled past every defense that I had.  I have faced strong triggers like this before and been able to conquer them, yet this time was different.  After pondering what made it different, I realized that this trigger came from a different source, someone I trusted and respected, and never anticipated a comment like that.  I expect comments, innuendos, and guilt-trips from society, diet-ads, and exercise enthusiasts, but when it comes from a person close to me, it feels like a betrayal.


The pain I am feeling is so great that I am unsure what to do with it at first.  I decide that there is nothing for it—but to feel it, let it take its course.  I cry. I rage. I pray. I think.

Here’s a glimpse into what I think about—my mindfulness monologue goes something like this:  I am fat, ugly, and disgusting.  Wow, I just body-bashed because of that comment.  It really triggered me and now I feel confused and very angry…  I want to retreat into the fetal position under a very heavy comforter and cry and scream and rip my pillow to shreds…  Whoa, I am having some really strong reactions.  I think I’ll need to examine this more closely when I’ve given myself some time to feel and work through it.  Wait a minute, that’s what I’m doing right now—working through it.  And I am still so confused about why I reacted this way…maybe I need a thinking cap?

And slowly, ever so slowly, I forgive, and I begin to reevaluate where to go from here.  And I find that I actually begin a paradigm shift from where I have been.  Originally, my goal with Intuitive Eating was to embrace my body—flaws and all—but my new reevaluated goal is to actually see my body and all other bodies differently.  Here me out on this one.


I know that a person is not simply a product of their body shape, size, appearance, etc., but the combination of their body and spirit or personality.  At first, I thought that I wanted to learn to look past the body and see individuals for who they really are based on their personality.  But, that’s not true anymore.  I  want to be able to look at the average individuals that I come into contact on a daily basis, and see them as both the product of their body and their personality.  Okay, stick with me on this one–I know I’m going all philosophical.  The personality part has never been a problem for me–I am usually able to give others the benefit of the doubt, see their good intentions, and understand why they do the things they do.  However, seeing their bodies as anything but sizes, shapes, or objects of envy is something I have never been able to do.

My new goal is to see bodies differently.  I want to be able to see them as beautiful creations of God over which we have been given stewardship and what I typically view as flaws, are not at all.  In fact, those “flaws” are stamps of God’s artistic fingerprints on my body and my life.  He gave me the body that he meant to—it was no accident; there were no mistakes when he made me.  Even bodies that have been misused, abused, broken, neglected, or harmed—even those bodies started the way God made them and nothing on this Earth can undo the beauty they inherently have.  They simply need some extra TLC (tender love and care), but merely the fact that they need some TLC will not preclude me from trying to see them as they once were and what they can be.  So, what started out as a fear-triggering, soul-wrenching event turned into an inspiring reevaluation of goals and a profound and necessary paradigm shift.

What do you guys think?  Share me your stories.  Have you ever been called the ugly duckling or thought of yourself as one?


  1. I think every girl views herself as an ugly duckling at some point. But remember the ugly duckling was not really just a duck. It was a swan which is so much more beautiful than ducks. We shouldn’t feel the need to look like the other ducks. Heavenly father made us all different and beautiful. He cannot make something that is not.

    • Thanks so much for reminding me that Heavenly Father cannot make something that is not beautiful! That is so true and it really helps me try to view things differently! Your comments are ao appreciated!

  2. Yes. Due to the selfish way other people had used their agency against me, I felt like an object — sometimes a robot. “All they cared about was my body. Do they not recognize I have a head and a mind that is affected?” On a mental level I knew I had worth, and that God loved me, but it took a very long time at an emotional level to recognize for myself that regardless of what had been done to me, it didn’t make me a lesser person. It didn’t mean I was worth less. I have just as much worth, just as much purity, just as much potential as when I was born — but it took until I had a few experiences including this oil painting to help me see myself that way.


    • Thank you SO much for sharing, Tara! I really appreciate your experiences–they make me feel that humans are incredibly strong and that if you can do it, then I can do! Your painting is so meaningful! Thanks for sharing.

    • No. Leesie it wasn’t you. But this post is not about pointing fingers, it’s about how I reacted and what it did for me. So, no worries!

      • I know it’s not about pointing fingers – I just hate it if I offend someone and didn’t know it! I was making sure if I was to blame I knew it, and could act accordingly. I love you.

  3. As far as your paradigm shift – I agree 100%. I think the broken, unique, and different things about people is what makes them beautiful. I think I felt a lot like an ugly duckling in high school when my face was so full of zits, and none of the other girls, my sisters included, seemed to struggle so strongly. I always felt growing up that I got all the awkward Fluckiger genes, and missed all the good Merrill genes that you and Nessa got. I guess, and this is totally one me for giving into these thoughts – when you were struggling so much with your weight and lost so much weight back in the bad times – I felt like “shoot, I can’t even loose weight right’. I don’t know – I have never felt like a beautiful person. I sort of have come to the compromise that I just decide feeling pretty or not just isn’t an important concern for my life, I have many other places where my energy needs to go. Maybe someday I will have the strength to dive into the issue again and come out more victorious. I am so glad you were able to turn this hard situation into a victory.

  4. When we were little, my sister would always be told–“Oh, you look so cute today!” I would be there, too, but invisible, I guess. I did grow up with shyness and with a sense of not being good enough. Thank goodness, there was always my Dad, who was so encouraging and loving. My sister was always the cute one, with cute clothes. I came to know that I had talents and separate from her, I was okay. I’m still fighting a shyness issue. I still have a hard time in crowds, but I know I have strengths.
    I am battling a weight issue, but it comes from a lifetime of bad eating habits. I’m trying to change all that. My weight isn’t my driving issue, although it probably should be. I’m just hoping that I will be able to make the life changes that will improve my health and that my weight will follow.
    I can’t imagine that you were ever, EVER, referred to as the Ugly Duckling. You are not in any sense of the word and I can’t believe that anyone would ever elude to it. I have always thought of you as self confident and beautiful. I’m sorry that this happened to youl

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