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"What Do You TRUTHFULLY Believe About Your Personal Appearance?"

Updated on August 7, 2017
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James Ranka earned two BA degrees. One in Mass Communications; the other, Music Performance. He is also a photographer and photo artist.

Could a two word statement, heard more than forty years back, even now, in 2017, determine how one personally views his appearance?

This is my portrait taken in 2006. While your reaction to this photograph may be one of a handsome man, I see nothing but flaws.  Read to discover why two words forever defined my views of personal attractiveness, and self-esteem.
This is my portrait taken in 2006. While your reaction to this photograph may be one of a handsome man, I see nothing but flaws. Read to discover why two words forever defined my views of personal attractiveness, and self-esteem.

How Do YOU Really Feel About Your Personal Appearance?

Allow me to share two, short and personal, real stories.

The first describes choices I made to avoid paths leading to life success.

The other is my story of belief.

The word 'belief' is a weak description. Rather, it's a story of KNOWING lifetime success in an individual vocation was, and, as it turns out, is mine.

Maybe you can identify.

A very long time Ago. ...

while hanging out with my childhood friends, I recall watching a cute 7-8-year-old girl sashay in the direction of our small group.

She quickly found her place within our circle.

We were shooting marbles when, out of the eternal blue, she stared me down to say, "you're ugly."

Those two words, coming from seven-year-old lips and spoken nearly four decades ago, subconsciously taunt me to this day, August 6, 2017. And moreover, even now, can negatively shape my self-esteem.

Seems nonsensical, right?

It MAY come across as bunk, but I've heard many comparable stories from various friends through the years.

A person they respect or find attractive, verbally blasts them with stinging remarks like, "you're stupid," "you're a moron," or "you're ugly," and the brain entraps those words--forever caged.

For mysterious reasons, people cannot stop the brain's DVD player from revealing incorrect pictures; and to some degree, are held captive by negative, mental imagery.

Facts Do Not Really Matter

Whether valid or not, the firm belief one carries wins every time over the
white-knuckled, savagely persuasive self-talk one can rally.

I recall the sheer terror I felt each time I was called on to give a speech. I read all the books on public speaking and used the all the suggested relaxation techniques, but I still shook like a leaf in a hurricane when I stood in front of an audience.

I have since conquered this personal monster, but my fear of public speaking is related to the thought I was ugly . . . The two words I heard and internalized so long ago.

I'm a professional musician and recording artist. Let me know I am booked to give a solo piano concert where 25,000 people will be in attendance, and I feel NO nervousness whatsoever; in fact, I look forward to the event with pronounced, positive anticipation!

Why the seeming disparity?

Your Opinion - Handsome Or Otherwise?


The Flip Side

Playing outside at seven years of age, I heard music playing from a radio located inside my grandmother's house.

I can still picture glowing tubes of orange providing light for the dial inside that 4-foot tall magical piece of musical furniture.

One song, in particular, caught my ear's attention.

I stopped playing outside, carefully listened to the complete tune, and scampered for the piano bench inside. I parked on the bench, and within 30 minutes was playing that song (with one finger.)

One would have believed Liberace was "tickling those ivories" ( a famous southern expression used in place of- 'playing the piano.') Four family members ran to the piano, all shaking their heads in disbelief in reaction to what they had just witnessed.

"That boy needs piano lessons," and "My God, did you hear that?" were typical quotes flying around that room for the next 30 minutes.

One month later, I was studying the piano with a great teacher.

From there, I began composing and recording, entirely convinced I could accomplish anything in the music world.

The point of the story?

I was praised; nearly worshiped for my musical abilities. That positive reaction never left.

Today, and many years later, I still KNOW I'm an outstanding musician, and keyboard performance comes very easily and naturally for me.

I also KNOW I am, to some degree, ugly in appearance.

The entire world may believe I am a handsome man, but their views have been ineffective in piercing the wall of self-doubt my mind constructed 40+ years ago.

Our Awesome Human Brain and The Power of Self Belief

The impact of self-belief should not, nor cannot be underestimated.

I have no professional credentials in the study of the human mind, but I DO know through personal experiences, this organ is a fantastic element of our creation, readily able to shape futures by only receiving or rejecting damaging dialogue from others.

What made me believe, then internalize, two words spoken from the lips of a total stranger in a particular place and time?

  • Two words that altered my entire life.
  • Two words that impaired my personality in ways I will never fully grasp.

Two words . . . "you're ugly." ...

Manson - Not One Of The Most Beautiful People: Or Is He?


© 2012 James Ranka


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    • copywriter31 profile image

      James Ranka 4 years ago from Port Neches

      Beautifully written, Sheri. ....

    • Sheri Faye profile image

      Sheri Dusseault 4 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      hmmm...physical beauty is just the throw of the dna dice and current fashion. After a bad complexion and frizzy haired teenagehood I bloomed late, and by then realized I am far more than t and a and was able to make a wonderful life using my brains, talent and ambition. I know we are all beautiful, and my ugly period made me a life long commpassionate person who does not judge on physical. I am sorry you went through that but whoever that child was, she was wrong.

    • copywriter31 profile image

      James Ranka 5 years ago from Port Neches

      Wow! I am humbled, appreciative and thankful for your amazing words. I, too, am happy to be a part of the HubPage community, and a large part of that feeling comes from receiving the comment you just wrote! Thank you, prairieprincess,


    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      CW, you have handled such a painful topic with grace and beauty. And you are so right that it is amazing how two words could affect you so much, but words really are powerful.

      I can relate to your story. In grade seven, a boy in my class came in every day and said the words to me, "you're ugly." Looking back, I wasn't ugly, but he saw me as someone that he could bully, and he did.

      Thanks for writing such a powerful piece. I am so glad you joined Hubapages!

    • copywriter31 profile image

      James Ranka 5 years ago from Port Neches

      Hi Alecia - You are spot on concerning the power of words. I'm sure I've said uglier things to people. I will never know how powerfully those negative words impacted the people I wrongly judged. Maybe that's why I'm so deliberate now before I open my mouth to criticize anyone. Thanks for your comment.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      You were very brave to address this as well as you did. But I completely understand. That's why people should never underestimate the power for words in dealing with one another. Even as children, our words have lasting affects.

      To me when someone says something about you- you can take it one of two ways- keep going or learn from it. And sometimes you can do both. You can't always happen what's given to you but you can help how you use it. Great hub!

    • copywriter31 profile image

      James Ranka 5 years ago from Port Neches

      @ lindalou1963, Good for you! Sounds as though you are living a much happier life now. I also know the emotional weight one carries when under constant demands living with a perfectionist person. It's good you found the courage to break away from that situation. Thanks for sharing that.

      @ Larry Wall, Larry, I applaud your courage. You were dealt a bad hand and I know cruel kids are when they discover someone 'different'. You made the best of your situation, and I like what you and Linda say "the problem is theirs, not mine." I think that is so true. Thanks for your great comments!

    • angel115707 profile image

      Angel Ward 5 years ago from Galveston, TX

      lindalou, I went through the SAME thing.....a million times happier now!!!

    • profile image

      Larry Wall 5 years ago

      When you are seven, it does not take much to give your self-esteem a major blow. I have a speech impairment. I did not like to talk, because people would laugh, try to cure me on the spot or call me a name.

      I got proper therapy in college--not perfect, but better. I have given speeches to large groups and gotten standing ovations and been invited back. I was president of a Toastmasters club. I had a successful career as a newspaper reporter. I am 61 and I still have trouble with some sounds, and some people my age or older will still make fun of me--behind my back. I came to the conclusion a long time ago that the problem was with them and not me. We all have our flaws and all have our unique abilities. We just have to make the best of what God has given us and use what we are missing to be more understanding of others.

    • lindalou1963 profile image

      Linda 5 years ago from Texas

      I was married for 20 yrs and 1 day. I divorced him because I realized I wasn't stupid. I realized that I didn't 'f' up everything, and I realized I wasn't all the things he said I was. All the years I was married, I strived to make everything perfect. I had to fold the towels right, have dinner ready at an exact time... etc etc. When I realized HE was the one who was messed up in the head, and not me... I divorced him and have never been happier.

      Wonderful hub, very thought provoking.

    • copywriter31 profile image

      James Ranka 5 years ago from Port Neches

      Great comments. I, too have lost much of the influence those 2 words - 'you're ugly' have had on me for so many years. The mystery is, why I would accept those words, at that time, when I've heard much WORSE but was able to blow them off in many other situations!

    • angel115707 profile image

      Angel Ward 5 years ago from Galveston, TX

      It has taken me a long time to get over hurtful lies spoken over myself, especially from people I loved. I think I finally hit rock bottom, and saw the ones who abused me most (verbally and physically) where hating themselves so much, they were victims of this, and repeating the cycle, I admit I had to read a lot on the power of the mind, but I dont base my opinions of myself on others anymore, but on standards I have set, when I give life all my best!

      Wonderful hub, very honest, many people feel this way but are afraid to speak up about it...