Slog Music

Music, Nightlife,
and Drunks

Thursday, December 13, 2012

SL Letter of the Day: Fighting Ugly

Posted by on Thu, Dec 13, 2012 at 11:11 AM

I'm on hiatus while working on a manuscript for a new book. In the meantime, please enjoy these classic Savage Love letters pulled from previous columns. I will be back when the book is finished. —Dan

Originally published July 24, 2008:

I'm a 22-year-old female, and the older I get, the more often I am ridiculed by straight men for being ugly. Just last night, a man asked me if I was jealous of my pretty friends and if I wished I could look like them. I know I'm unattractive, but I've met wonderful girls who I think are at least as physically unattractive as me who have managed to find someone to love them. I need to know if I should even bother anymore—it's hard to find a job, make friends, and basically just find people who will treat me like a human being. I shower every day, try to dress well, and wear makeup, but none of it seems to help. It appears that my only options are plastic surgery or suicide, and the older I get, the more appealing the latter becomes. And no, I don't have body dysmorphic disorder, I am absolutely sure.


P.S. I can't trust my friends to tell me the truth, because they love me, which either (a) clouds their judgment, or (b) makes them reluctant to hurt my feelings. The only commentary I have to go on comes from people I don't know who feel a need to inform me that I'm ugly. But I'm not sure. Should I send you a picture?

My response after the jump...

You can send me a picture if you like, Anonymous, preferably one taken by the brand-new therapist that you're going to get. Because you may or may not have body dysmorphic disorder, and you may or may not be ugly, and your friends may or may not be shining you on, but you clearly need more help than I can give you in this space. But I'll accept your self-diagnosis and say this much...

Things will get better as you get older. Not your looks, Anonymous, if your looks are truly the problem, but your peers. People are assholes in their 20s, and pouring alcohol into assholes doesn't make 'em stink less. Straight boys raised to believe that women exist for their pleasure will sometimes feel personally affronted by unattractive women, and alcohol makes them feel entitled to comment. But the passage of time makes monsters of us all, Anonymous, and the young, relatively hot straight guys tormenting you today are the bald, paunchy, and if there is a God, burn victims of tomorrow.

So the numbers of guys who can appreciate what you bring to the table—your humanity, your compassion, your ability to love—will grow over time, kiddo, and you may find in middle age what your girlfriends found as young adults. Unless you off yourself in the meantime, Anonymous, in which case you won't be around to watch those cruel, drunken boys deteriorate, wither, and die. And why would you want to cheat yourself out of that?


Comments (42) RSS

Newest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
The more I think about this letter the more certain I am that the guy was "negging." Honey, if he really thought you were hideous he wouldn't be talking to you at all. He thought you were hot enough to lay and was trying to hit on you in an ill-advised, pathetic Pick Up Artist way. He wanted you to think you were ugly, so that you would jump him to assuage your self-esteem. I can't imagine any other reason for a dude to say something like that to a random chick.

Start hanging out somewhere else. For serious.
Posted by umnist on December 19, 2012 at 11:24 AM · Report this
Sandiai 41
@40 Word.
Posted by Sandiai on December 16, 2012 at 3:51 PM · Report this
@ 38, you're assuming that conventionally unattractive men don't also feel entitled to a hot woman. Some of the most shallow men I've met are have been very unattractive.
Posted by pavloviandoggy on December 15, 2012 at 10:04 PM · Report this
Not to sound like an afterschool special #12 but all the plastic surgery in the world won't help if you still feel ugly inside. And others have said no beauty lasts forever. As Dan said time and gravity comes to us all.

And #14 have you thought about trying another therapist?
Posted by msanonymous on December 15, 2012 at 3:50 PM · Report this
Corylea 38
Wait until middle age? WTF?! Why not just date an ugly guy? There are plenty of men who are just as unattractive as the LW, and there's no reason why they can't be making each other happy.

Posted by Corylea on December 14, 2012 at 10:09 AM · Report this
sorry babe, beauty may only be skin deep..... but ugly is to the bone
Posted by theman on December 14, 2012 at 7:01 AM · Report this
thene 36
No shit, anytime anyone mentions feeling suicidal, we want to hear them check in and tell us that they're still here and it got better.
Posted by thene on December 14, 2012 at 2:15 AM · Report this
I agree this is one of those letters where a follow-up would be nice.

And a word on cruel guys in their 20's: yes, they suck. But let's not forget that there are cruel girls, too. Taking sadistic pleasure in ridiculing or insulting an awkward and/or not-conventionally-attractive person is not confined to the male of the species. Fortunately, only a minority of 20-somethings are so blatantly cruel, and I agree with Dan that it becomes less common as people get older.
Posted by Functional Atheist on December 13, 2012 at 10:59 PM · Report this
Bonefish 34
31: Sounds more like he simply doesn't get laid at all. Out of everyone in your social circle, who is likeliest to bitch about how he's surrounded by ugly women: the one who gets laid the most, or the least?

Just let him rationalize his virginity however he wants.
Posted by Bonefish on December 13, 2012 at 9:36 PM · Report this
there are legitimate late bloomers in the world whose looks improve after the ripe old age of 22. there is a lot you can do for your looks if you've been neglecting them out of despair. you can buy clothes that fit and do something you like with your hair and it'll make you feel better and look better. if your friends think you're pretty they're probably blinded by your sparkling personality and they see though your ukempt hair and floppy clothes to the cute girl underneath.
Posted by metanymity on December 13, 2012 at 8:00 PM · Report this
@31 I'd have to figure out which are the womyn first since at least 70% of the womyn in Seattle look like men.

Of course calling a woman in Seattle "Seattle pretty" is not a compliment lads.
Posted by Rodger the Dodger on December 13, 2012 at 7:12 PM · Report this
Sounds like someone didn't get laid on his trip to Seattle.
Posted by LateBloomer on December 13, 2012 at 6:50 PM · Report this
"When you get up in the morning you should be thinking "I can't wait to get back into that book" or "today's the day I'm going to learn how to make beer" or "the art museum is open late after work today" or "I need to remember to charge my camera batteries for the Flickr meetup" or something "

Sorry fnarf, Seattle womyn are still some of the ugliest on the continental USA even after their Flickr meetup.
Posted by Roger Dodger on December 13, 2012 at 6:45 PM · Report this
Can someone explain to me why Seattle women are so friggin' ugly? Seriously, I'm just stunned at how ugly the women are. I'm not into the LA porn star look, but simply love a beautiful woman, with beautiful hair and skin. Charming, flirtatious, and like a Parisian woman, can grab a scarf and walk down the street with style and panache.

Instead Seattle is filled with bull-dog ugly women, with bad skin and hair who dress like fisherman's wives and walk around with all the charm of bikers. Funny thing is I've met good looking guys here with girlfriends whose faces could peel the paint off the wall they are so unattractive.
Posted by The Chinaman on December 13, 2012 at 6:37 PM · Report this
Sandiai 28
@12 and @24: "Who wouldn't rather have a good looking partner with a nice personality, than a less attractive partner, with a good personality?"

I usually prefer less-hot guys as well (don't tell that to Mr. Sandiai).
Posted by Sandiai on December 13, 2012 at 6:19 PM · Report this
bleedingheartlibertarian 27
Sadly, I don't think being a "hot guy" is a prerequisite for a dude treating a woman like shit, for manipulating her via her insecurities, or for being a generally misogynist asshole.

I wish I could say it was limited to dudes in their 20's, too.

But I can say that we aren't all like that. I hope she's found one of us by now.
Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on December 13, 2012 at 3:33 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 26
There's nothing in the letter than indicates the writer goes to skeezy clubs or anything like that. Maybe she's looking for men in all the wrong places, or maybe she's a normal 20-something hanging out with other 20-somethings.

One thing that I've noticed over the years is that genuinely ugly women are invisible to the type of douchebag who would insult a woman for her looks. So, if the letter writer is getting noticed by these assholes, she's probably not as "ugly" as she thinks she is.
Posted by keshmeshi on December 13, 2012 at 3:24 PM · Report this
OutInBumF 25
I don't get 'ugly'. My man is anything but a physically beautiful guy, but he's still hot in all ways that matter, plus I defy anyone to find a more generous, caring, intelligent, funny, sweet and thoughtful guy on this planet. I've been happy with him for 20+ years now, and I've never considered anyone else. Besides, as Dan says, time makes trolls of us all.
Plain women (versus men) have it tougher in our world, but it's what's under the skin that makes a beautiful person, not what we see. I hope this young lady has done well after 4 years. These recycled SLLOTD's are frustrating.
Posted by OutInBumF on December 13, 2012 at 3:10 PM · Report this
@12: "Who wouldn't rather have a good looking partner with a nice personality, than a less attractive partner, with a good personality?"

Ugh... me. Maybe it is a girl thing, but I'll take the average looking guy with brains and humor over the hot, boring dude any day of the week.
Posted by Prof L on December 13, 2012 at 2:23 PM · Report this
@18: "Anon needs to start looking at the selection of not-hot guys. They will be a lot more interesting, and a lot less judgemental."

Oh bullshit. Ugly dudes often also think that they deserve bikini models and are the bloated piles of crap who post about how "fakers" are entering nerd-dom and polluting their cosplay contests with their "ugliness".

Just because someone's unattractive does not make them have "a good personality" just as much as an attractive person is always an asshole. There are plenty of controlling, narcissistic ugly dudes and ladies.
Posted by generalization hater on December 13, 2012 at 1:59 PM · Report this
Chelydra_serpentina 22
Plenty of people have to grow into their looks, or figure out what the hell to do with them, or both. I know I did. Sometimes I still, in my late 30s, feel like it's a work in progress.

People who grew up attractive are well aware of it and tend to think they're too good for the rest of us. My favorite kind of hot is nerd-hot, because nerd-hot teens rarely exist. They're just awkward nerd-nerds. Nerd-hot people come into being in their 20s, don't usually know how hot they really are, and don't think they're too good for anyone.

It can be irritating when it goes too far in the other direction, though. Shitty self esteem in a late-onset hot guy can be a tough, frustrating thing to try and break through. Hearing him tell you how awesome you are and what an unworthy loser he is gets tiresome, no matter how much you try to ignore it or tell him it's not true. Eventually all you can do to save your own sanity is throw up your hands, say, "Fine, whatever," and walk away.
Posted by Chelydra_serpentina on December 13, 2012 at 1:05 PM · Report this
Bonefish 21
8: Oh I get that, but the type of unprovoked, purely malicious assholery here isn't normal for people in their 20s like it might be for 12-year-olds. Someone still pulling this type of shit at 23 is just as maladjusted as someone doing it at 53.
Posted by Bonefish on December 13, 2012 at 12:55 PM · Report this
lizlemon 20
First off, it seems that the random dude that came up to her was not someone she was hanging out with. She has a right to hangout with her friends wherever she damn well wants without getting insulted by random drunk assholes. So the people telling her to hang out with different people does not seem constructive. If anything, she is saying her friends DON'T call her ugly and maybe that is the positive type of friends she needs around.

With that said, Anonymous you are only 22. You're not Victoria Beckham, so what. Hopefully you will find hobbies and things you are good at which will make your physical attractiveness less important. Please please get help. I would be really curious to see how she is doing now.
Posted by lizlemon on December 13, 2012 at 12:54 PM · Report this
I loved Dan's response here -- funny and wise and perfect.
Posted by EricaP on December 13, 2012 at 12:50 PM · Report this
@17, absolutely right. Anon needs to start looking at the selection of not-hot guys. They will be a lot more interesting, and a lot less judgemental. Those who are really hot looking (Terry excepted) are generally pretty shallow. They also have a much more difficult time maintaining a relationship. They just don't have any idea about how much heavy lifting can be involved in a healthy relationship.

But @14 has a big point. Body issues, especially if they began in childhood are very difficult to get past, and tend to remain a hot button issue. We all have them, and if we are in a good relationship, our partner will take care around those points. If we are in a bad one, our partner will take delight in pressing that button on a regular basis.

I so wish there would be a follow-up on this letter.
Posted by SeattleKim on December 13, 2012 at 12:48 PM · Report this
it's my experience that the hotter you are and the more you learn to get all validation from attention based on that hotness, the less well equipped you are to deal with life when beauty eventually fades.
Posted by DJSauvage on December 13, 2012 at 12:35 PM · Report this
@12 No matter how good you look, you're probably going to get less attractive with time. That and your partner will grow accustomed to how you look, and, unless you have a real relationship, bored with them. So what then? More surgery?

Sure if you have some glaring deformity then get that shit fixed if you can. But to just go for general improvement is a fools errand and a shitty one to start off on at 22.

It might be a bit harder to get that first date if you're not the best looking but after a bit of time looks fade from importance. Plus the major reason that less attractive people have a harder go is from their own insecurity. There are plenty of people who are not hung up on their partners looks especially among the non-assholes of the world which is where you want to draw from. There are a lot fewer who want to date someone who is constantly down on how they look, and often the ones who go for the 'now good looking/still insecure' types, are douchebags.

She doesn't need plastic surgery she needs to change her environment to one where she meets better people.
Posted by giffy on December 13, 2012 at 12:34 PM · Report this
Dan's advice is absolutely right. 22 is so, so young. Many (but not all) people grow up and get nicer, or at least wiser and more empathetic, when they get older.

First off, if you're hanging around people who are just hauling off and saying, "You so ugly," you should hang around somewhere else. Second, as Fnarf said, work on being interesting. In a few years, that will count for a lot more than it seems to right now.

Finally, if you really are suicidal, GET HELP.

Would really like to know how this young lady is doing.
Posted by MLM on December 13, 2012 at 12:26 PM · Report this
This letter made me sad. Alas, being in a stable, happy relationship doesn't fix the body issues one can develop. Therapy might not either. Having a husband and a therapist just means those two people are there to help you with your body issues. But they don't go away overnight (or even over a few years) because you internalize it so much. Feeling fat is still, two years into therapy, a surefire way to make me feel suicidal, too. It is the toughest nut to crack. I hope this LW has had more success than I have, but I doubt it.
Posted by wxPDX on December 13, 2012 at 12:18 PM · Report this
brandon 13
Sounds like she's hit a patch of assholes and it has skewed her perspective. There's someone for everyone sweetie, I can attest. Work on your ability to detect assholes in your life, and here's the key, REMOVE THEM. As you get older you'll realize, you don't have to hang around people who don't like you, who talk shit to you, use you, or who you don't like. It ain't high school anymore. It doesn't matter if they are right or wrong about your looks. You just don't need the toxic thoughts put in your head. All they do is drive you to suicide.
Posted by brandon on December 13, 2012 at 12:15 PM · Report this
Honestly, cosmetic surgery might not be such a bad idea. Our society puts a premium on good looks. It's sad but true, good looking people have it easier. Who wouldn't rather have a good looking partner with a nice personality, than a less attractive partner, with a good personality. Some people are just not very attractive, and their lives are that much harder because of it, and all the therapy in world doesn't really change that. Why not talk to a good plastic surgeon and see what can be done? (And if you object to this advice, how come?)
Posted by Placibo Domingo on December 13, 2012 at 12:14 PM · Report this
@2 Yup.

I never got why people lacking the required attributes (looks for women, looks/money for men) go to douchey pickup clubs and spend the evening miserably wondering why no one cars what an interesting person they are. When you can barely hear a person's name over the music, there's not going to be a lot of getting to know people going on. So you can either be hot, rich, or just wait things out till you can get a shitty lay from the remaining desperate types. Fun!

Posted by giffy on December 13, 2012 at 12:13 PM · Report this
@7 Yeah, some of these 4 1/2 -year-old letters really make you wonder whatever happened to the letter writer.

Dear? Are you out there? Do you still read Dan Savage? How are you doing?

The problem is, she may have only read Savage Love in her local weekly and not even know that Dan writes here every day. Or she may be too busy with her career, friends and love life today to bother worrying about advice to the lovelorn.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on December 13, 2012 at 12:06 PM · Report this
pastanaut 9
What Fnarf said.

Also, I'm not the most gorgeous person, but no asshole has ever had the audacity to say to my face that I was ugly. Over the internet, yes, but only after I decided not to have sex with him. Then I was suddenly too fat and ugly to fuck anyway.
Posted by pastanaut on December 13, 2012 at 12:05 PM · Report this
@ 6 - people do improve with time. Try hanging out with some teenagers if you wish to reexperience the awfullness. Or just observe at a safe distance.
Posted by gnot on December 13, 2012 at 12:03 PM · Report this
very bad homo 7
I hope she's doing ok.
Posted by very bad homo on December 13, 2012 at 11:46 AM · Report this
Bonefish 6
People are not assholes in their 20s. Assholes are assholes in their 20s.
Posted by Bonefish on December 13, 2012 at 11:45 AM · Report this
"clear sign that you're hanging out with the wrong people" is absolutely right. Stop hanging out with assholes, Anonymous.
Posted by beef rallard on December 13, 2012 at 11:44 AM · Report this
Hell is other people.
Posted by SeMe on December 13, 2012 at 11:39 AM · Report this
And as we age, the differences between the pretty girls and the others is equalized, as well.

I'm 62, and some unattractive high school girls have become attractive older women and vice versa.

And believe you me, there's never an expiration date on women.
Posted by judybrowni on December 13, 2012 at 11:37 AM · Report this
Fnarf 2
Isn't there one of those horrible Tucker Max dudes who writes garbage on the Internet about how to get women to go to bed with you who suggests exactly this kind of "man, you're ugly, do you wish you were pretty like those other girls?" direct insult as one of his proven techniques? I don't know if it works or not, and I don't care; I only know that as a woman subjected to it, or a man hearing my buddy deliver it, I would take it as a clear sign that I'm hanging out with the wrong people. And then I would never hang out with any of them ever again.

The secret to having good friends is not to be pretty but to be interesting. Work on that -- not to attract others but to be attractive to yourself. The rest will come. Really, it will. When you get up in the morning you should be thinking "I can't wait to get back into that book" or "today's the day I'm going to learn how to make beer" or "the art museum is open late after work today" or "I need to remember to charge my camera batteries for the Flickr meetup" or something like that.

Not "maybe somebody will be nice to me at that horrible bar tonight". Because they never will; all the nice guys took one look at that place and left immediately, not because of the ugly girls but because of the ugly vibe.
Posted by Fnarf on December 13, 2012 at 11:26 AM · Report this
NotSean 1
Posted by NotSean on December 13, 2012 at 11:25 AM · Report this

Add a comment


Want great deals and a chance to win tickets to the best shows in Seattle? Join The Stranger Presents email list!

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy