Dear Mrs. Bluth,
Six years ago there was a story featured in The Magazine section of The Jewish Press, written by Malkie Schulman and I have held onto it all this time because she was writing about ME! In order for me to be able to do justice to it, perhaps you could reprint it and respond to me, personally at the end.
THE UGLY TRUTH
Beautiful women intimidate me. Particularly tall, elegantly clad, stylish ones. I see them on the avenue, or the PTA. They are in shul with coiffed wigs, slender figures and perfectly made up. When I see them, my imagination takes over and paints them with the very worst qualities, ones that are not at all ‘pretty’ and probably not at all true. The voice in my mind tells me “she’s a snob.” “She’s shallow.” “She’s petty.”
But, in my heart of hearts I know this is not true, as many of them are my close friends. In my shame for those thoughts, I must admit, when we first met, in short time I have consistently been proven wrong. Yet for some reason I persist in judging beautiful women negatively at first glance.
Elisheva was my best friend with whom I went to summer camp and for years afterwards. Although in past years we only met at simchas she was still the tall, slim brunette with high cheekbones and huge cornflower blue eyes, always beautifully made up and elegantly attired, causing many an admiring glance to be cast her way. She had a grace about her that lit up the room that I could never replicate and, I was given to understand, her children were just like her. When I heard that her tall, handsome 25 year old son still wasn’t married, I immediately thought, “of course, she’s being picky! Only wealthy, gorgeous daughters-in-law for stunning Elisheva!”
Most recently I was seated next to Elisheva at an affair. We got to talking about our children and with tears beginning to pool in her eyes, she confided how difficult it has been for her son to find a shidduch. At 26 now he was still single she cried, and it was all because of a bilbul a few counselors he worked with in a sleep away camp spread about him. Even though two years ago his name was cleared and the head of the camp let it be known that he had been falsely slandered, still, he was passed over by many of the shaddchonim. even these many years later, people still remembered that he had a blemish on his past, albeit untrue.
I was shocked, more at myself than at her distress. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I did feel sorry for what she and her family were going through, but at the same time my mind was reeling that I had so totally misjudged her. She was my friend! Why had I automatically jumped to the conclusion that her son wasn’t married yet because SHE was holding out for big bucks! I had done what I always did when I saw someone perfect and beautiful, I had to assume that the gorgeous fruit was rotten inside, to expose her as the shallow person I chose to believe she was, but really wasn’t.
Why do glamorous women bring out this ugliness in me? Next to them I feel unsightly and inadequate, my emotional equilibrium goes haywire. I don’t enjoy feeling inferior so I need to make them shallow and ugly. Only then can I go back to functioning normally. Ugly, isn’t it? Unfair, isn’t it? Terribly human, is’t it?
Mrs. Bluth, this is where the article ends, but it could have been written about ME! I, too, suffer from feelings of terrible inadequacy when meeting a beautiful woman, as does my eighty-year-old mother, even through we are average looking. Can you please offer an explanation to this socially crippling illness along with some advice?
The fact that you kept this article all these years shows me the intensity with which you suffer, so I will certainly do my best to help you find relief and resolution. Before I begin, however, I must extend my apologies to Malkie Schulman for editing her article ever so slightly so as to keep true to it and honor your request.
The first thing that comes to mind reading this material is that the writer (and possibly you as well) are severely low self-esteemed, with a very poor understanding of self worth. These are the qualities that are developed in a child from earliest childhood and builds self-confidence and self-worth as we grow. I don’t know anything about the author’s childhood and growing-up years, nor your own but the lack of parental support in these areas are usually indicative of going back quite a few generations. This is borne out by your mother suffering from it too.
A child, even as young as one year old, can already appreciate compliments like “….she’s so cute!” “….he’s so bright!” and “she’s so beautiful!” As the child grows, we solidify the praise that bolsters strength of character, self image and the ability to see ourselves a being able to achieve most of the things we set out to do. This empowers us to understand that we are special in our very own ways and that we are worthy to happiness and prideful moments on who we are. Everyone of us is special in our own way, with the talents that Hashem blesses us with, each and every one of us is an “Original Creation.” This is something parents have to instill in a baby from infancy, so that they can grow a visual picture of their own value and worth. Both Ms. Schulman and you (and even your mother) grew up with no sense of self-esteem.
There’s no time like the present to find out who you really are and where your own beauty lies, it’s not too late. Make an appointment to a therapist and watch what happens! I can almost guarantee that she/he will help you find these precious puzzle pieces that will fill the gaping hole left over from an unfinished childhood. As for beauty……well clothes and make-up don’t hold a candle to the stunning persona of a person who is happy in her own skin, knows she’s one of a kind and believes in the beauty that Hashem placed in her. Please understand that feeling bad about what other people seemingly have, does nothing to change your situation other than to keep adding tinder to a never ending fire that burns only you.