In case you missed it, the buzz on the Internet today is about a young girl’s posting on YouTube asking the community if she is ugly. “People say I’m ugly,” she says with the saddest look on her face. “So, tell me….am I?”
Here’s my reply:
Dear Beauty (I’m talking about your insides – that’s all I care about),
As I was sipping my coffee this morning I came across this video you posted.
It broke my heart.
How old are you? About 15? I’ve been there. High school is a tough time. Girls can be mean and boys, well, their brains are far from developed so they can be pretty dumb.
I know from personal experience, you will question yourself about everything throughout your life. The questions will be different at each stage, but they will always be there. Sometimes they will be about your looks, other times you’ll wonder if your boyfriend is faithful to you, you’ll question if your best friend really likes you and if you’re good enough at your job. You will definitely doubt your parenting when you have kids.
Sadly, as a woman, we question everything we do. You’ll get better at dealing with and covering up your insecurities, but they’ll still be there.
In a segment on the Today Show this morning, scientists explained that women have these insecurities because our brains are wired differently than men. This different wiring is actually what makes women so wonderful, but it sure makes life hard for us. Our brains are wired to be more sensitive to social cues and to worry about the perceptions of others. Our insecurities literally have to do with brain wiring. Imagine if the electrical wiring was “sensitive” in your house and the lights went on when you entered the room. You could either try to fix it, or adapt to how great it is that you don’t have to fumble for the light switch in the dark.
That’s what we have to do: “fix” or adapt. Do we try to fix – with plastic surgery, another pair of shoes, the new diet fad, a different hairstyle or a softer shade of pink lipstick? Or do we accept that we are wired to be sensitive and figure out how to embrace it?
The “fixes” don’t really work. I’ve tried them all. Look in my closet: the skinny jeans spilling out of the drawers did make me look a bit thinner and the racks filled with black shirts were fun – for a night or two. But they were just temporary fixes.
So to you, to me, and to those out there who deal with insecurities, let’s learn how to accept and appreciate. We can do this, first, by the knowledge that our brains are wired such that we will feel insecure. And now that we know that it’s our wiring, let’s figure out strategies to embrace it!
Here’s something that worked for me: When I was in my mid-30s, good-old-fashioned “mean-girl behavior” smacked me between my eyes. I had a situation where I was ostracized by a group of women. There was one woman ring-leading this torment. Every time I had a bad thought or unkind word about her, I felt worse. So I changed my outlook. When she crossed my mind I thought of love – and sent her light. I wished the best for her, which, at first it was insincere. As I continued to send her love and light, I started to feel better. Within a couple of weeks my thoughts of love and light were sincere. Today, we are friendly. That’s how I adjusted – how can you adjust?
To you, girl in the video, I leave you with a cyber-hug and a little advice: Stop looking at pictures of celebrities, stop texting, take a break from Facebook, and definitely stop any negative talk YOU are doing about other people. Instead, Google Sheryl Sandberg and listen to her talk about women. She believes we women are capable of GREAT THINGS! Find a good book and think and dream – put that beautiful brain of yours to work! Develop your mind and you will find your passion!
You will be a woman someday. You ARE capable of anything! Make us proud…
Ellen Padnos lives in Manhattan Beach, CA with her husband, Ben, her children Anthony (5), and Annie (18 months), and her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Lola. You can also follow her on Twitter (@ellenpadnos).