The story of the Ugly Duckling is one of resilence and never giving up. According to Baz Luhrmann, “The ugly duckling is a misunderstood universal myth. It’s not about turning into a blonde Barbie doll or becoming what you dream of being; it’s about self-revelation, becoming who you are.”
A classic tale of searching for one’s identity it encourages people to find the confidence to never give up. The duckling is told time and again that he is different,that he is ugly, however he chooses to not give in, searching for others like himself rather than assimilating and accepting certain ways. In the end he triumphs, becoming a beautiful swan that is admired in the pond.
Unfortunately acceptance by others is usually out of your control. Self acceptance, building our confidence is based on our state of mind and is something we need to work on as it does not come naturally to many.
Children often ask the question where do I fit in? Why am I different to another family member or a friend? Recently I was talking to a friend who was darker skinned than I. He told me as a child how he felt and how he cried because his family were all much fairer than himself, practically white. He saw it as most unfair and wanted to know why he was targeted to be different from the rest of his family.
At some point in time, when we look in the mirror we all suffer the ugly duckling syndrome. Whether it is due to having bags under our eyes due to late nights, acne when we are growing up, skin discolouration, having a big nose, being too tall or too short, having slanting eyes, having curly hair instead of straight, having small boobs instead of bigger ones, being dark skinned not light, not being model thin but rather carrying more weight and the list goes on.
Who remembers Susan Boyle the woman with the amazing voice that won ‘Britains Got Talent’ in 2009. Her simple, modest stage performance wowed the crowds and though her looks were plain, it was her unique gift not her looks that has seen her perform in front of the Queen, have her own solo concert tour, carry the baton for the 2014 Commonwealth games and seen her albums earn her 22 million pounds plus for topping the charts in both the USA and UK. Though her appearance has changed slightly as can be seen below, she has not assimilated to change her appearance like those in the plastic surgery or botox brigade, but rather had some good advice on how to enhance her natural
features by losing weight and using a quality hairstylist and beautician. She has become that a swan that others never initially perceived her to be.
Do you believe in yourself irrespective of of what others say? Do you feel the need to look like and immitate others or can you stand out from the crowd and accept yourself? What’s your confidence level like?
Looks can have a huge imapct on our confidence. If you feel that you can enhance your features naturally, you might be amazed with the results that make you feel even more confident when you take that step to have your hair done, see a beautician, lose weight, change your clothing style. That ugly duckling becomes a beautiful swan as can be seen by the many makeover shows on TV, where the results are amazing. It’s hard work always looking beautiful.
As children the effects of being diferent becomes ingrained especially when we are constantly told we are different, thus in adulthood we suffer the repercussions of our belief system.Our unconscious mind acts out in words, what we believe of ourselves and what we have constantly been indoctrinated with. It is difficult to get away from the self talk but if you are resilent and can bounce back after being told by someone that you are not worthy, carry too much weight and so on, you are stronger than you think.
An unfortunately reality is that sometimes children become tools for parents to use to build up their own self confidence. As adults they attempt to get their children to attain their unrealised dreams.Consider the child beauty pagents that have become synonomous with the USA. The barbie doll looks and sexualisation of these children so early in life has been found to have pyschological effects. These children only focus on their outer beauty and their values are often based on how others perceive them. Rather than boosting confidence it can lead to narcissistic behaviour, eating disorders and other emotional issues. This is the other side of the coin, when you are told you are beautiful all your life, but you feel more like the ugly duckling inside.
We all have unique gifts and we need to explore them becoming aware of our purpose and giving ourselves credit once in a while for how beautiful we really are inside, not just outside.
- Share your unique qualities . Don’t say I don’t have any, as every single person has something they are good at. You might draw, sing, dance, enjoy writing poetry, shine at football, be a good photographer, like cooking or building something, enjoy caring for others, be good at spelling, have a skill for colour coordination, be a shopping guru or many more things. Hobbies are a good way of excelling and sharing it with others as you are usually passionate about what you do.
- Set some goals if you want to change something. Nothing happens by itself. Set a timeline so you have something to work towards. Break things up into small chunks as it’s important you have success along the way in order to stay motivated.
- Talk it up. The way you look and talk is how others perceive you. Women generally find it more difficult than men to sell their achievements and skills but when networking it’s important you put yourself out there to sell your product, service or idea. Watch your body language, energy levels, tone of voice and the volume of your words. Don’t use jargon but plain English when you engage others and share information. Work on your elevator pitch and be prepared to share it with others. Keep business cards handy and if you don’t have any make sure you take the other persons then send them an email or SMS telling them it was nice meeting them.
Have fun and see the changes you can make from ugly duckling to elegant swan.
© Kia Haere Counselling