“You’re ugly”, a boy said to me.

Sometimes we have memories from childhood that stand out in our mind. It doesn’t always necessarily always make sense to us as adults. However, occasionally it’s because something happened that elicited strong emotions at the time. Even if we would have responded differently now and it seems a little silly, these events can sometimes have a lasting effect on us.

Another child called me ugly

I remember it quite vividly. It was a bleak, grey lunchtime on the equally grey playground. The only things that brightened it up were the red benches and the coats of children running around being noisy. I was one of these children and when it happened I was playing a game, hiding behind one of the aforementioned postbox red benches. “You’re ugly“, a boy said to me as he stood next to me beside the bench.

I don’t remember what I said; I don’t think I said anything. As I was only 5 or 6 and had only previously been called pretty, beautiful etcetera by my relatives, it came as quite a shock. I’d never even really thought about how I looked.

Within a couple of weeks afterwards, I remember looking in the mirror at home. I’d study my face and gently pinch my rosy chubby cheeks. Were they what made me ugly? I didn’t like them. I’d never previously thought about how I looked, but here I was having the first session of many in front of the mirror, criticising my appearance. I wondered what was wrong with me and how I was ugly. I wondered if other people thought I was too.

Laura and a barn owl

Lasting impressions

Ever since then, I’ve been critical of how I look. It’s stupid really, how a little boy’s callous comment has had such an effect on my self esteem over the past 20 years. I think it just stuck in my mind that I was ugly and never left, unfortunately.

The ironic thing is he that he wasn’t exactly good looking either. He had an unruly mop of dark brown hair and a severe lazy eye. Oh, and he always seemed to be getting in trouble for one reason or another. The truth of the matter is that he was probably just being his usual slightly evil self. He seemed to go out of his way to bully other children and make them feel bad, but to me it felt personal at the time.

Nobody has ever really managed to convince me that I’m pretty since, let alone recently. The person who has probably managed to convince me the most is my husband. Occasionally he almost makes me feel okay about myself (until the next time I catch my reflection!) I did actually feel quite pretty on my wedding day though!

Moving forward

My self-esteem is something I’m always trying to improve and now I have a daughter to be a role-model for! I hope that Autumn never experiences something like this as she’s growing up, although she probably will. She is such a beautiful little thing and I will do what I can do to stop her from feeling otherwise. I want her to have a healthy and positive attitude towards her body and appearance.

I’ll also be teaching Autumn to be kind to other children and that even if they look different or she doesn’t think they’re especially easy on the eye, she should be nice and shouldn’t insult them. When I was about 5 there was a girl in the school year below me who had hardly any hair. Her head and face were badly scarred where her skin had been badly burnt. I was one of the few children who didn’t act disgusted and played with her. I like to hope that Autumn will also be that child if she is in a similar situation in the future.

What has made you feel unattractive? Have you been through a similar experience to me? Let me know below!

25 thoughts on ““You’re ugly”, a boy said to me.”

  1. I was in a relationship for a long time where I was told I should have thought myself lucky to be with him. Never felt good enough and totally lost any confidence. I’m unsure why people do this to others? I’m now worried about how children will be with my son (he has autism) and had a few cruel encounters already but he is unaware of frightened he will be taken advantage of when I’m not there.

  2. That’s so sad 🙁 I hope you have your confidence back.
    I’m sorry to hear about the encounters your son has had. People can be so cruel!

  3. I had sailed through childhood and adolescence fairly easily and so it came as a real surprise to hear things from boys/men as a young adult. From my forehead, the paleness of my skin, to ‘undefined calves’ – who knew I was so repulsive!? Of course I’m not, I’m a fabulous healthy human who is lucky to function so well. But I’d be lying if they didn’t sting, and if I said I wasn’t self conscious about them now.

  4. I was a very confident child until around 13 years old, where I was crippled with insecurity over how I looked. It didn’t help massively that my mum and sister didn’t take it too seriously and I think I just needed a bit of support really. But I too have a little girl and am determined to make sure she doesn’t feel those things and grows up confident and happy. #postsfromtheheart

  5. One boy at school has twice (in my hearing) called my son (who has a genetic condition) ‘weird-looking’. I resisted the temptation to both whack him round the head, and say ‘you are too!’
    Maybe I’m finally becoming a grown up!

  6. That must have been hard to write…that take a lot of courage to be so bear. The fact you have identified the trigger for your thoughts is helpful though as you can rationalise that most 5 year olds don’t really understand the concepts of ugly/beautiful – for all we know he got the two words confused and in fact thought you were the most beautiful girl ever 🙂 . Beauty starts within… #postsfromtheheart

  7. Thank you. Unfortunately, from his behaviour towards others over the years, I know that he was a nasty, spiteful little boy. As such, I doubt that he mixed the two concepts up.

  8. Sad how this stayed with you. You’re ridiculously beautiful and even though you’re not looking to be told this, I hope you realise that no one cares what you look like. Also your words and blog shout human kindness and so much love that make the balance needed to shut out the anger and fear that create these scenarios. #ThatLinkyFriday

  9. This made me so sad for you, because in my eyes you are gorgeous and also because I know all too well what it is you’re struggling with. A lot of my issues with how I see myself and the value I place on myself stems from comments from others…all negative. And we all know the party line about not caring about what other people think, but it’s much easier said than done. I love your last paragraph – we need to raise our children to be people who build others up, not tear them down. We are trying to instil in our four year old that you just don’t ever need to comment on other people’s bodies, because even if you think there is something weird or strange your opinion doesn’t need to be voiced because when it comes to someone else’s’ body your opinion doesn’t matter. I think the world would be a much better place if more people took that stance!

  10. Kids can be little jerks! Hopefully when they grew up they learned to not be so mean!

    So sorry that you went through that! #Blogstravaganza

  11. It’s horrible how things stick in your memory. An ex-boyfriend told me I have a really annoying laugh, I was paranoid about laughing for years! He was a jealous and insecure chap so I’ve put it behind me and laugh out loud at every opportunitiy! #blogstravaganza

  12. I am hyper critical of myself. I have the constant feeling I need to be stick thin which after 2 kids is never going to happen. I feel uncomfortable in my own skin sometimes and feel that I need to hide under big clothes. Some days I am the total opposite and wear ridiculously over the top stuff but it’s like a type of camouflage #Postsfromtheheart

  13. Thank you, Sadie. I love how you’re bringing up your four year old, I’m going to take that approach with my LO too.

  14. It’s such a shame how this has stayed with you but words can be so hurtful. They do stick, I once had a comment from a couple of blokes walking behind me ( I was about 21) who said ‘wow, hasn’t she got massive calves’. I hated my legs and ever since then I loathe wearing skirts or dresses that show them. I shouldn’t care but I’ll never forget that.
    I think all we can do for our children is what you”ve said, encourage them to be kind and build their confidence and strength to see past nasty comments x

  15. Such a great post. It’s funny how certain things like this stick with us and can have a big impact on our lives. Sorry for the late comment, it was a busy weekend! Thanks for linking up to #ThatFridayLinky

  16. A fantastic post it’s always fascinates me how comments. Like this have an effect later in life on us Thanks for linking to the #THAT FRIDAY LINKY come back next week please

  17. Yep, its weird how things stick with you for life! When I was in reception, we were doing PE and one girl told all the other kids to stay away from me because I was wearing a yellow top because it attracts flies and they were all disgusted with me! That’s stayed with me for life and I’ve never worn yellow since, even as an adult!

    You’re right that we need to work on our own self esteem for our daughters. It’s something I struggle with myself, I always worry what kind of message I’m sending to my young daughters.

  18. When I was at school I do remember the bullies. I was somewhere in the middle in regards to pecking order – which mean that I probably got more stuff pulled on me, mainly because I was around them more than those that stayed clear.

    The one impression it did leave me with is, that, when my daughter was old enough I enrolled her in Karate. See, I wanted to make sure she had the skills to stop any bullies picking on her, and anyone she saw. I brought her up to not bully others, but to stand up for herself.

    I wanted to make sure she was that person that stood up to the bullies with the skills to stop them. I didn’t want her to have to deal with the crap I had to. It comes to something though, when we need to go through such measures because of bullies. It does make you wander why they are like that..

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