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I really need some expert advice on an issue...


Have you ever heard the story of the Ugly duckling? Where the ugly duckling doesn't "fit in" with the other ducks because he was actually a swan, but didn't know this until he grew up into a beautiful swan? Well, I have always felt like the ugly duckling. I was always told one day I'd grow into a beautiful swan. And by everyone's perception that I talk to, well, they seem to confirm it. Yet, all I see and all I feel in the deepest part of my insecurities is that I'm still that ugly duckling; beautiful on the inside, but ugly on the outside.


Whenever I hear someone say, you're beautiful, I practically want to vomit. Through maturity I've learned to graciously accept compliments, but I still don't see it, or better, FEEL it. It's more than just being humble. I see beauty in most people, but I see much deeper than skin and looks. I feel energies of people and can see the beauty. I can't figure out why I see myself as such a disgusting woman.


I hope this doesn't come accross as vain, because I am truly being honest here, but I can walk down a street and get honks, looks, hellos, smiles, and varied other confidence building responses. And yet, none of it makes me feel better. I already am very confident in who I am on the inside. It's really all I've ever "believed" I had. People tell me all the time that I'm beautiful, intelligent and fun to be around. The latter I firmly agree with; but beautifu? I don't think so.


I guess you could say it started from the moment I realized I liked boys. Ever since I can remember, the boy I liked was always a good friend, but always asked out the "prettier" girl. Until High School, I wasn't the greatest looking kid... But after the braces came off and I filled in and "womanized" I felt as if I was a decent looking girl. And yet, they boys NEVER asked me out! And I'm not being coy here... I knew many boys in HS from elementary school and we were all friends. But nobody ever approached me. Then, in my HS Senior yearbook, there were all these guys who wrote all these great things about me and how they always thought I was hot, and to call THEM and so on. I was baffled by those remarks. WHY didn't THEY ever ask ME out?


Then, a few weeks ago I learned that my older brother (2 years) told all of his friends that I was hands off--And they were the hot guys and I knew them all and saw them all the time. So I thought, was my brother saying things to everyone? If so, I never heard a word of it. We aren't that close. In HS he ignored me altogether. Was that the reason I was always left behind? I mean, even for the dances, nobody asked. I did manage to go, but it was because I did the asking...!


But it can't JUST be my brother, b/c I went places and did things that he wasn't a part of. For instance, I went to Knott's Berry Farm (sorta like Disneyland for those who don't know) all the time. Met boys all the time. But they never liked me. It was always my friend they liked--no matter which of the 5 of them I was with--It was NEVER me!


So... somewhere along all of those rejections, I began to shelter myself and settle on whatever guy WOULD like me. My confidence was shot and I ended up in an abusive relationship for my first, then a passionless marriage b/c it was comfy. Now, at 31 and divorcing, I am a mess and empty as can be. I need to find out WHY! And better yet, what to do to help the inner child feel secure...


I had an awesome upbringing. Two sets of wonderful parents (who divorced when I was 2 months old--so I can't really believe that has any impact!) I have a large extended family whom are very supportive and in no way judgmental. I am a strong minded, intelligent, average-looking woman. I've never seen myself as "pretty" and any time I try to address this within me, I can feel the emotions rise. I'm not even sure what they are.


I am intending on finding a good therapist (this will be my 3rd in a year since they keep VANISHING!) but one that can handle whatever this issue is called. I don't know what "title" to look under.


All I do know is that I keep trying to fill the emptiness with a guy. As if all I ever wanted was a boyfriend. Someone to love. Was it settling that has made this all seem so important? Possibly, but it seems to have such an impact on how I feel at the end of each day that I need to address it and let it go. I really don’t know what to do or how to handle it… At least I know the right question to ask, now, tho.


Sorry so long… But you all know that’s me… Thanks in advance for the input!

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Hey girl,


I think that the fact that you are now divorcing is also of big impact to your selfesteem. But it is also THE opportunity to undertake steps to a change here, you are starting over and I am sure you will be able to find a happier you when this is all finalized.


I was a 'late bloomer' so to say, in HS all my girlfriends would be dating, and having sex for the first time. I met my first bf when I was around 20. I had anorexia which alienated me from my peers from 15-18, and it's only NOW (at almost 27) that I start really feeling like a woman. It came as a gradual process for me, I was never really worrying about my looks (anorexia had more to do with how small I felt compared to my 6'ft height lol). But subconsciously I always felt not-girly, being a bit of a nerdy girl I was always reading and not occupied with things like cloths and stuff. Now that I am gradually overcoming episodes of depression, I can say that I feel so much more attractive.


What I am trying to say is that this particular feeling is not something that works outside in. You can dress sexy but still look desperate and insecure. I am convinced you are a beautiful girl- inside and outside. It is the way that YOU learn to see that that will make it also more visible to others. And this is where therapy will be a great tool for you. In Holland there is this program called 'Ex wives club' on tv, based on the movie, but focussed on finding yourself after a divorce. I think you will find something like that in the states (haha, we usually copy programs like that from american tv), I'd suggest you bond with women who are going through the same thing and have regular days of indulging yourselves


Take care,



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I am no expert but reading your story, it felt incredibly similar to the way i felt growing up. Had a brilliant family and friends network but had the 'ugly duckling syndrome', i think once it is attached to you it is very hard to leave behind, some of the most beautiful women in the world have suffered from it. I remember having the prettier friends who always had boyfriends, i remember having guy friends, but always just friends, it really felt like there was something deeply ugly about myself. So i did what any girl with bad self esteem did: i married the only guy who ever was interested in me (we are divorced btw), i thought if he could love me, i could learn to love myself, it turns out he didn't ( but thats another story). Six years on, i'm on the other side, i have learned that i am pretty, not stunning, but more importantly good on the inside. I had to do it on my own and its hard work at times. I still get 'ugly' days, men don't fall at my feet, but i have faith that there is one man out there, who is the love of my life, and i'm the love of his life, and i will be the most stunning girl in his eyes, and thats a nice feeling. I hope you get that feeling too one day, i think you are already on your way there, good luck.

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Hi there,


It sounds to me like you have low self-esteem, which is focused on your looks, but also about your self-worth as a woman. And whilst you may look gorgeous to others, your attitude about yourself if that you don't think you are gorgeous, which may explain the dichotomy that men find you attractive but don't ask you out?


Some of the tests of low self-esteem (from another website):


Characteristics of Genuinely Low Self Esteem


  • Social withdrawal
  • Anxiety and emotional turmoil
  • Lack of social skills and self confidence. Depression and/or bouts of sadness
  • Less social conformity
  • Eating disorders
  • Inability to accept compliments
  • An Inability to see yourself 'squarely' - to be fair to yourself
  • Accentuating the negative
  • Exaggerated concern over what they imagine other people think
  • Self neglect
  • Treating yourself badly but NOT other people
  • Worrying whether you have treated others badly
  • Reluctance to take on challenges
  • Reluctance to trust your own opinion
  • Expect little out of life for yourself


I've put in bold the ones that immediately struck me from your post - I wonder if this could be the case with you? There are loads of ways to start building self-esteem, and to start seeing yourself as the vibrant, gorgeous woman that others see. (I'm trying to do this for myself, so not telling you this as someone who has managed it, lol).


Good idea to carry on seeking out the therapist, because I think the fact that you are determined to change and develop is a sign that you are ready to realise that you are your fabulous self!


Good luck with this

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Thanks for all the replies... I wouldn't say I "normally" have low self worth, but my self esteem has suffered quite a bit over the years... Of all the things listed, only the following struck me as accurate in addition to the ones you highlighted...

  • 1. Anxiety and emotional turmoil
  • 2. Accentuating the negative
  • 3. Treating yourself badly but NOT other people
  • 4. Worrying whether you have treated others badly

1. I definitely see this as due to recent events--I normally do not have this issue.

2. I USED to be much more negative about things... I call it critical--I am a problem solver at heart. I see something that could be fixed, and point out how. Many people see that as negative and I've just learned to ignore people that can't see what I do. Since I decided to divorce, I have been told that I am much more positive--which baffles me since I feel awful half the time, but I have found hope of a better me, so maybe that's it?

3 & 4. Not exactly sure what this is referring to, but I would NEVER treat someone else poorly. I have a high regard for the good in others. I also see the good in me. Pretty much anything "inside" I'm absolutely comfortable with. I truly LOVE the person I am and believe I am a good person inside. I feel awful when I can see that I've hurt someone's feelings or done them wrong and immediately apologize.


It's hard to explain, but I KNOW the person I am is a wonderful person. I have a great personality and love to be around people. I love to help others and make them feel good. It's possible that I did undermine my own needs to make someone else feel good. And I am not sure how big a flaw that is... I do give myself credit when I've done good.


It's purley a cosmetic issue. Looks aren't everything and I've never expressed myself as a "look at how pretty I am" person. Maybe you're right and that's part of the problem? On those days when I'm on top of the world and feeling like I look good that day, the world is at my fingertips. But for some unknown reason, I fall back into that insecuity of feeling "ugly".


My X says it seemed like I was never satisfied. I'm not sure what that means. Physically, I wasn't. Emotionally, I wasn't. Career, I wasn't. But I always see that things can be "more" and I'm a high achiever and love a challenge. So to me, never being satisfied, makes sense! How do you make things better if you're satisfied with the way they are???


Does anyone know what type of therapist I should seek out? The family counselor isn't really the right type for my situation.

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Could you get a referral through your doctor? That would probably be the easiest way forward. I don't know, there are a few ways listed on that self esteem site:


Some of the most common places to get referrals include:


Your primary care doctor

State psychological organizations

Clinics at colleges or universities


Community mental health centers

Local clergy


Family members

The Yellow Pages

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Can you post that link? I'd love to take a gander at it



I'm sorry, I didn't keep a note - I just googled 'self esteem and looks', and had a look at a couple of sites. I can't find it again, I'm kicking myself though!! There are loads of decent websites out there, the bbc one isn't bad (although UK based)


link removed


I think it's important to work on this, you know - you've inspired me to look at my own issues!! I find this the hardest thing of all, because although I can feel good most of the time, there is a bedrock deep down that I'm just not that great a person. It's hard, and I think we have to work on it now, because no one else can do it for you.


So thanks, answering your post has inspired me! (That happens all the time here for me!)

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Up until this Summer, I still felt like I was waiting to turn into a swan. I finally made it, but it's on my terms. I no longer believe that I'm ugly but I certainly don't think I'm more attractive than the average woman.


I don't believe people when they say I'm beautiful because I've seen my face. I've used mirrors and know what I look like. I have an unusual face but my personality blows through and people see WHO I am not what I look like.


For the first time in my life, I don't think that if I were to approach a man, that he would laugh in my face. :splat:


It's a nice feeling to not be so concerned about it anymore.

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You're definitely not ugly! You're very nice looking.


Dearie me, what is it with this place? All these gorgeous people not getting how attractive they are!


Well we are mostly here because we're being friggin' dumped/alone/heartbroken/lonely....


Does do something to the self-esteem doesn't it??? Hopefully temporarily

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Up until this Summer, I still felt like I was waiting to turn into a swan. I finally made it, but it's on my terms. I no longer believe that I'm ugly but I certainly don't think I'm more attractive than the average woman.


I don't believe people when they say I'm beautiful because I've seen my face. I've used mirrors and know what I look like. I have an unusual face but my personality blows through and people see WHO I am not what I look like.


For the first time in my life, I don't think that if I were to approach a man, that he would laugh in my face.


It's a nice feeling to not be so concerned about it anymore.


Well, if THAT's a picture of you, rest assured, the outside matches the inside!


I understand what you mean. I never see myself as anything other than average, but others seem to see more... Since starting this post, I've reconciled with my inner teenager and have realized that I'm NOT that teenager any longer... I also realized that I'm finally in the position I wished for 8 years ago! I can do WHATEVER I want WITH WHOMEVER I want! I need to embrace that and learn to live and enjoy m freedom!

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