“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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