Love, Self

How To Respond When Someone Asks, 'Am I Ugly?'

Photo: Unsplash: Roberto Delgado Webb
Why Women Ask, 'Am I Ugly?' — And How To Respond

When I think about women who ask, "Am I ugly?, I still remember a story I read almost 20 years ago by Dave Barry.

In the humor column he wrote for the Miami Herald from 1983 to 2005, he once posted an article about being out to lunch with a female friend who asked, “Does my butt look big in these pants?”

Dave thought the fact that she was asking the question implied she already knew her pants were not flattering, so in response he asked, “What did your husband say?”

She replied, “He said it looks good.”

To which Dave only said, “Yes, you do.”

If her husband wasn't going to tell her the truth about how she looked, Dave certainly wasn’t going to say anything.

Why do women ask some version of “Am I Ugly?” or “How Do I Look?” or "Do these pants make my butt look big?"

I believe there could be many reasons why a woman might ask, depending on her level of confidence, her life experiences, what is currently happening in her life, and the nature of your relationship with her.

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Her reason for asking a female friend may be very different than her reasons for asking a guy she just met at a bar.

Her level of self-awareness is another factor. Is she aware of how she feels, or is it subconscious?

When someone asks your this question, it’s helpful if you have some understanding of what she truly wants in response — the truth or reassurance.

And if you are someone who ever asks these types of questions, as you read, try seeing if you can recognize what your own reasons might be.

How you choose to respond may change based on the reason someone is asking the question, so explore their motivation before deciding what to say.

Here are just 7 of the reasons women ask, “Am I ugly?”

1. They may feel invisible and want to be noticed

For some people, negative attention is better than no attention at all. This could be a learned behavior from childhood. For example, the middle child of a large family may learn to undervalue herself to get attention, and still does this in adulthood as an unconscious habit.

2. They may want a deeper connection with their partner

This is one a way to get attention from a partner. Sometimes a woman will do this with a man if she feels she looks great and isn’t getting any (or enough) attention from him. If that's the case and he says, “No, you're not ugly,” or starts praising the way she looks, she might follow up by asking, “Then why didn’t you say anything before?”

3. They may want a deeper connection with a female friend

Asking “Am I Ugly?” or “Does my ___ look ugly?” could be a way of seeking connection with other women. Clothes, shoes, makeup, and hair are common ways women can connect without feeling vulnerable. Asking about what products another woman uses or complimenting her is a way to connect that feels safe and fun.

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4. They may want reassurance in general

A woman may want you to fuss over her and tell her how fabulous she looks because she feels ignored or inadequate or has been comparing herself to someone else and want to be assured. This is common when a woman dresses up and thinks she looks great, but her partner doesn’t compliment her (or even seem to notice). Unlike the situation described in reason number two, in this case, she doesn’t have the confidence in herself because she is looking for outside acknowledgment rather than knowing she is beautiful.

5. They want reassurance about something specific

There may be something specific happening at the moment that is upsetting, such as a sudden breakout on her face, a bad haircut or weight gain. Don't disregard what a woman is saying or asking about if it's true. Acknowledge it, empathize with her and remind her you don't think less of her for it.

6. They may feel depressed or worthless

A woman in this situation is being honest and authentic with you about how she feels. It might be because others may have called her ugly or bullied her, whether recently or in the past.

Bullies put down others to make them feel small because bullies feel worthless, insufficient and ugly themselves. Demeaning others makes bullies feel bigger and better.

When someone asks you if they are ugly or if anyone likes them, they are being vulnerable with you. Kindness is critical here.

7. They may want to know the truth

Maybe she is having an important picture taken, or she's going into a meeting and wants to be sure there's no food in her teeth or stray hairs sticking out oddly. She may also want an honest male perspective from a guy she sees as a friend. If you know she wants to hear the truth, tell her with kindness, of course.

Women often look outward for acknowledgement rather than finding it in ourselves.

Much of the reason for this is that society still sends the message to girls that they are valued more for their appearance than they are for their achievements or character.

For the most part, men get to be more practical. They shave, wash their face, get dressed and go. Many times they don’t seem to care what they are wearing as long as they are comfortable.

However, when a woman picks a healthy partner who loves her for who she is, he doesn’t care as much about the superficial things. He cares most about how his woman makes him feel. If she respects him and appreciates him for all he does and shows her love for him, most men will be happy.

Relationships with friends and co-workers are similar. They don’t care if you have a pimple on your face or your hair is frizzy. In the end, people will like you and respect you because you care, listen, support, and honor them, not because you lost or gained 10 pounds, you’re having a good or bad hair day, or you’re wearing discount or designer clothes.

You can connect superficially or connect heart-to-heart and soul-to-soul with the people.

How you look and what you wear is not critical to building close, healthy and successful relationships (unless maybe you're a model).

Every one of us is born with gifts. Discover and honor your own.

Single women often think that when they get married, they will feel better about themselves, but that’s not true. Many married women still push love away. How can you let love in from another when you don’t love yourself.

If you often ask others “Am I ugly?”, it’s time to start showing more love to yourself.

You deserve to honor and respect yourself. There’s no one more important to have recognize your inner beauty than you!

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Marilyn Sutherland is a Relationship and Communication Magician who believes that when you're ready to have a breakthrough, magic happens. Join her community on Facebook, and if you want to discover the essential skills to have loving, sustaining relationships, communicate effectively and have deeper connections in your relationships, contact her via email.