I feel miserable when people tell me I’m plain

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female part-time worker in my 40s, and people sometimes tell me I’m a plain-looking woman. I end up holding a grudge against whoever says it.

Last year, when I was out with my mother, a man started talking to us. During our chat, he said to me, “You must look like your father. If you looked like your mother, you would be beautiful.” I was really sad and angry to hear this.

When I was in my 20s, my brother-in-law saw a photo in which I wore a wedding dress, and said to me: “Your face is huge. Your [female] matchmaker [seen in the same photo] looks good.” I’ve been told by other people I’m a plain-looking woman. Each time, I can’t think of a comeback and just endure it.

People probably forget anything they were told like this as time goes by. For me, work helps take my mind off of it all, but whenever I’m not working, it all comes back and makes me miserable.

People at my workplace have never made negative remarks about my face because they are aware such remarks are categorized as sexual harassment.

However, when people say horrible things about my facial features outside of work, how can I cope with it?

I, Tokyo

Dear Ms. I:

You are less homely than you think because people don’t have the nerve to say, “You are so plain-looking” to somebody who is truly like that.

When that man said to you, “If you looked like your mother, you would be beautiful,” he was just teasing. He would never have thought you were worried about your face. I assume you keep donning a friendly smile to people around you.

Let me tell you a bit about my personal life. About 20 years ago, I played the protagonist in a TV drama titled “Busu de Gomen ne” (I’m sorry I’m ugly).

People around me really didn’t want me to take on the role, but I sympathized with the drama’s theme — “How you express yourself is more important than the natural features of your face.” So I put everything I had into performing in the drama.

I think good facial expressions represent people who positively make efforts to attain their goals or enjoy doing things. These people attract other people, so being friendly may be more charming than being beautiful.

I’ve heard that members of the Takarazuka Revue have handed down a “no-no” oath called “Busu no 25-kajo” (The 25 elements of ugly women). It begins with “no smiling” and “no gratitude expressed” and ends with “no enthusiasm for life or work.”

Much of what we have on our minds is revealed on our faces. The oath advises members of the revue to focus on what they have on their minds while pursuing beautiful stage productions.

I think this approach can make someone look beautiful or homely.

By Akemi Masuda, sports commentator

(from May 29, 2015, issue)Speech

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