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“Ask a Priest: What If People Constantly Mock Me for My Looks?”
Q: I keep getting taunted and ridiculed because my appearance (big nose, weak chin, long neck). As far as I am concerned, I am not ugly. My perspective is that we are all beautiful. However, many people are not aware of this level. I have recently found out about the term “lookism,” and it doesn’t give me much optimism for the future. I am beginning to notice a pattern: because of my appearance many people do not want to associate with me. Next, people form social groups. Some groups then engage in mobbing and bullying me in a sneaky way. It is happening everywhere I go. It seems the only time this pattern will end is when my life ends. I try to do my job to the best of my ability, and I think people get jealous of my intellectual abilities and hard work ethic. However, it seems my hardworking intentions are not worthy — appearance is what is important. What can I do if humans are showing me I am not welcome? Is there a society out there I should look for? Should I change my career? Am I destined to a life of ridicule? — J.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: I am sorry to hear about the ridicule that you encounter. There is something in the human psyche that prompts some people to judge by appearances, as you note.
Fortunately, the one who really counts in your life doesn’t fall into that trap. “God does not see as a mortal, who sees the appearance. The Lord looks into the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
It is good to remember that, first and foremost, you are a beloved son of God. He doesn’t want this ridicule for you. He loves you so much that he sent his divine Son Jesus to suffer and die for you.
Still, even amid pain and ridicule Our Lord has a way of bringing out the good in a situation.
First, you seem to have a keen sense of the superficial way that some people think. (One wonders if the opinion of these folks is really worthwhile.) At any rate, your predicament has likely helped you to think about life at a deeper level.
Second, you can be pretty sure that people who do accept you will be doing so because they respect you as a person. You are made in the image of God, and sensitive souls will recognize your dignity.
In effect, you might already have the advantage of knowing right away the people who genuinely care for you as a human being. Not everyone has that advantage. Some people go through life thinking that others admire them, only to find one day how thin that admiration really is.
For now, it might be good to just intensify your prayer life. Stay close to Christ, who loves you more than anyone. Stay close to the Blessed Virgin Mary, too. She loves you as a son. That embrace of God and Mary is the only perfect society you might experience in this world.
(You might find it useful to look into a couple of our retreat guides: “You Matter” and “Who You Are: A Retreat Guide on Baptism.”)
And cultivate the gifts that God has given you, do what you can to help others, stay close to prayer — and you can become a saint.
At the end of our lives, we will find out the One whose opinion of us really counts.
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People who make fun of other’s looks are usually people who have let themselves be conditioned by the way the media has strongly influenced us. The media tells us how people should look in order to be successful, society is steeped in it.
When someone bullies us it is the bully who is communicating in a roundabout way that they have a problem, that they are unhappy and that the media world has control over them and that they need help to see the truth.
As God will see us as being his creation we are all beautiful and more importantly, it is what is in our hearts and what we do and how we treat each other that is most important.
When you think about it for a very long time only some certain looks have been promoted by the media as being attractive. Yet there are lots of different looks out there that have not been covered by the media. Why is this? well I don’t think it is because the other people who are not included are not attractive, it is because if the media promote a narrow and limited types of looks then people will want to look like those in the media such as models. This in turn is a clever way for the media and companies to make a lot of money. For example, if you get this product you could look like this person as this person has this product. So people go out to buy that product. It is not very nice of the media to do this: is it the way we are convinced into buying a product. But it gets the maximum amount of sales for the company.
Now if all looks were catered for then we would all feel very comfortable in our skin so we would think hey don’t need that product I am already good looking!
So the media has a good formula into making money by using people with a particular look. Not nice of them and I hope that they change their ways as there are other ways they can promote their products in a more thoughtful and considerate way that does not cause such anxiety with people.
Because hey I have a bigger nose too I think it is very distinguished actually! and I appreciate what I have.
It is sad that people have gotten into the habit of listening too much to the media which is a money-making machine. The thing is think about how stressed we get even models get about their looks, we are loosing looking at the bigger and more important picture of who we are inside.
Our idea of beauty is to be very thin, but some cultures have seen beauty ( I am talking about us girls here) as being those that have a bit more weight. Throughout the ages what makes someone attractive is different to nowadays. Those that were considered good looking in the 1950’s would not have been accepted by model agencies today! and the models of today would not have been seen as attractive by the era of the Renaissance artists.
It is sad that those that are bullying you have let themselves be trapped by this illusion that the media has created. It has sadly made them narrow-minded. If only they would look to God, as God’s teachings are of kindness and love how wonderful if the media would look to God’s teachings too then people would not have the stress and bullies would not judge on looks anymore perhaps they would stop bullying altogether.
I agree with the Priest you could help others so much in life.
Vanity and ego are not good things, love and understanding are the good things.
You say “It seems the only time this pattern will end is when my life ends.” but you could help in some way for the pattern to stop, can you help by perhaps using social media or the internet for the good? to help show others how media is conditioning them. Can you also change your perception of the world and see these bullies for being conditioned by a flawed and money-making system? They are the ones being bullied by that system, not you.
Recently, I read on a news website in the UK of some women who all had scars, one woman said she had a burnt arm (an accident as a child) she was not ashamed of the scars, and she was photographed wearing short sleeves as it was warm weather. Another showed a woman who had burnt legs as a child and now she was wearing long shorts and sandals which showed her toes were badly burnt and some of her toes are stumps but she goes out to the shops wearing that outfit in the summer. Yes they have been bullied but their aim is for people to see them. The more people see people who have burns or any injury the better because these women are beautiful. It is just that we as I said have been taught that perfection is in “flawless” looking skin etc.
But as things slowly change in our world and more people who look a bit different from what is in the media start emerging and being happy with themselves and showing as much confidence as they can. Then others will start to see the limited and controlling ways that the media have conditioned them to think. The illusion can be shattered. And we can see how everyone is unique and beautiful.
would it not be wonderful if you could play your part in this, to do even just a little to help break that illusion and show them the wonderful differences we all have and how it is something to be happy and celebrate. And that true beauty, real beauty is actually what is inside and how we treat others.
If you like the type of work you do then why should you give it up? unless you feel that there is something else you want to do. Can you tell them that their words to you are unkind and help them see the truth in the world instead of what the media has created? can you help others that are in the same boat as you?
It is good that you do work hard , but do try to also relax a little, if there is an opportunity in the future (when this present covid situation is better) to go out with them for a coffee then take it, try to get to know them see if you can help them. Even a little chit chat to brighten up the office might be needed as a getting a work balance is important as it is not just work you have colleagues and it is good to communicate to the people around you too.
Real peace and contentment can be found within ourselves and through our love of God and through his love of us. Find your happiness there. Pray for inner strength and peace, ask God to help you and those that bully you. Pray for his guidance. Talk to him about what upsets you it helps to talk to God. Even in times where things are going wrong for us, God will walk with us through it . Find things to do outside of work that you like to do, helping others, and some nice hobbies etc. And if the bullying continues and if it does not get better then you can complain about it and explain how it makes you feel so that they can see what they are doing is wrong.
A little baby will smile at her grandmother even though she might have white hair and wrinkles, a little baby sees the beauty in his/her loving grandmother and will love their parents even if they do not look like models. This is because this little baby has not been exposed to the cold world of the media and the ideas that some people in society have adopted. A toddler who has not been exposed to media will tell people who are kind and nice that they are beautiful even if they have looks that are nothing like those promoted by the media. This is because they see the truth. It is something we as a society need to do, we need to stop seeing the illusion and see the truth.
Bullying is a bad habit, it is like those that drink too much alcohol or those that smoke or do drugs. It is a sign that something is greatly wrong with that person. If they are bullying something has made them that way it is a reflection of their own insecurities.
Life can be tough at times and very challenging but keeping a solid center of Gods love in our hearts will help you a lot. I hope very much you find the peace that I have in life. Also to Pray very much for these people and to forgive them when you are ready to do so is a good way of letting go of the pain they have caused and will let go of any bitterness you have. When you are ready pray for them and tell God you forgive them.