It’s only in recent years that I was able to build my self-esteem.

I felt unpretty. I would sulk a little bit whenever I see beautiful girls on the covers of magazines, on the street, on tv, and anywhere else. I don’t look it, but I do sulk. I wished I was pretty like them and it hurts that I am not and will never be as pretty.

I would feel irrationably threatened that my boyfriend will cheat on me or will drop me like a hot potato as soon as someone artistahin comes along. It’s embarrasing. I am not proud of it. But it’s true.

I’m not the type to just sulk though. I googled for ways to help me with my situation, to build self-esteem, and to make me feel good about myself.

A lot of them centered on grooming, prettifying, and convincing myself that I am beautiful.

So, as it said on the internet, I would look myself in the mirror and tell myself “I AM PRETTY.”

Then, I would do prettification activities. I’ll be able to convince myself that I am pretty almost to a point of believing it but I don’t.

As soon as I see someone really good-looking, all the sulkiness and feelings of low self-esteem would roll back inside.

Every now and again, someone would give me a compliment and tell me I’m pretty. I will always say thank you, give a genuine smile like I’m some a sort of confident person, and then brush it off afterwards.

I know that someone might find me pretty, but not that type of pretty that would break necks, or stop cars, or get offered a job at a modeling agency. No, that will never happen.

Then, I began to think…

There must be something wrong with convincing myself that I am pretty to be able to build my self-esteem. It’s kinda like having a skinny body and telling yourself, “I am curvy.” Or it may be the other way around: telling yourself you’re skinny, when you’re every inch athletic.

It’s LYING to myself.

I am born with a specific body type and a set of facial features: and despite prettifying, I know there’s a limit to how pretty I can get. It’s bound to stop somewhere. Hanggang dun na lang talaga ang igaganda ko.

No matter what I do, this is what I’m born with, no amount of skin care, make up, clothes, or whatever can make me look like I just stepped out of a VS runway show or whatever stereotype it is that is considered really stunning.

And don’t even try telling me, “But Rae, those girls are glammed up, airbrushed, and photoshopped!”

I know that. But there are still people who are drop dead gorgeous without effort. The thats-just-makeup way of making someone feel good is not sustainable. Just as convincing-yourself-you’re-pretty wouldn’t be if you don’t actually believe it.

So, I tried something else.

I looked myself in the mirror again and told myself, “I AM NOT PRETTY”

Ouch. Hearing it from me, out loud, for the first time hurts so bad.

Then I followed it with, “I am not a pretty girl and THAT’S PERFECTLY FINE.”

I have a big nose, I am pimply, and my eyes are somewhat uneven. I made peace with these things and all the other things I don’t like about me.

I began to realize that true confidence comes from accepting yourself and how you are created.

Something like: “I am born like this and I’m ok with it.”

I decided to love myself and my flaws. It came to a point that my physical flaws don’t bother me anymore. My respect for myself and my self-esteem was no longer reliant on how I look like. On bad skin days, I still feel good. And now that I’m back to being overweight, I still feel confident.

If there’s something I can improve on, I will do that. But I’ve accepted stuff about me that I can’t change, like my height and my bone structure.

If I can’t be a pretty girl, that’s ok, it doesn’t I don’t have worth. There’s a lot more in me than un-prettiness.

When I see myself now, I don’t see pretty. I don’t see ugly either. I see ME. A person and not an object to judge as this or that.

The feeling-pretty strategy might work for some. But it’s just not for me.


Hi, I’m Rae and I am a scatterbrain. I am in my 30s and I write in this blog from the Philippines. I spend a tiny portion of my time de-stressing with makeup and skin care. Email: | Instagram: @scatterbraintures


  1. BelatedBloomer Reply

    I also have my struggles with self-esteem and it's like an unending roller coaster ride where it dips every now and then. During those times, I just ride it out and remember where my strengths lie. I have a fun personality, a smart-enough brain, a great sense of humor and genetically gifted skin. (Binuhat ko na ang bangko, pati ang sofa at kama!)

    During those times that we feel inadequate, we just have to “force” ourselves to stop sulking and start living. :) We may never be the prettiest or the sexiest girl in the room, but when we accept ourselves for who truly are, we can start to love ourselves too.

    Thank for sharing, Rae!

    twitter: @BelatedBloomer

  2. I think it really does take practice. Building a new way of thinking was difficult. Sometimes I slip to old way of thinking, over time it becomes automatic.

  3. Love Love ♥ Reply

    I struggled with that feeling ever since I was a kid. I looked all manly and I was fat! That was not the only worst thing about it because during my elementary days I already have a bad case of acne. You can't imagine how bad I felt. I guess we felt this way because we are living to the standard brought up by the media. They have ingrained their own definition of what we should be. :/

    Haaaaaay. You're not alone. I'm still struggling about this but I have found that personality is greater than face value. :))

  4. enjoyable read :)

    i have a client who's in her late 60's and very pretty. you can just tell when she was younger, she was a knockout. and she knows it too. but because she's all too aware of it, she's also very insecure. so i guess age does not guarantee any resolution. neither does beauty. you can be the prettiest girl in the room and still crave validation from other people.

    i struggled with feeling unpretty my whole life. actually, struggle might be more appropriate. i always think i'm past that stage but the same issues resurface every now and then. it's not easy to be a girl especially with people reinforcing these ideas about what it means to be pretty, thus valuable. i mean, just look at GT and those threads started by girls, asking boys what they like and don't like. not to put anyone in a bad light but it's a lot of pressure to live up to their preferences and they're usually vicious about their opinions. it's not even enough to be pretty these days. you have to be intelligent, successful, talented, ambitious, great in the sack, domesticated, etc. nakakapagod. nakakasawa.

    so i guess, all i want to say is, you're not alone (my eyes are uneven too hehe) and that i salute your mentality/strategy. maybe with enough practice, one day i'll find my peace of mind too. thanks for sharing :)

    -mooncake and leaves (GirlTalk)

  5. Gellie, di na ako updated sa pop culture now. It's the first time I heard of ganguro girls, I had to google them :p They're amusing!

    I'm so happy you've accepted your skin color, and the nose job thing? haha, I used to want that too. Haha.

  6. herroyalbleakness Reply

    This topic's close to my heart,too, and I'd be lying if I told you I can write a post about it without feeling that familiar ache in my heart.

    Although feeling unpretty is no longer a big issue to me as it was before–thanks to the most accepting and positive support group, the blues still kick in once in a while.

    I strongly feel that self-confidence isn't supposed to be the unwavering kind that most people say it should be. The most beautiful thing about self-confidence is that it's unstable– to help you stay grounded, human, appreciative and even more beautiful.

  7. Gellie Abogado Reply

    I love this post Rae.

    I believe our flaws make us unique and stand out from the crowd. I remember back when I was in early college, my mom actually paid for my body scrub and bleaching sessions every week because apparently, we got the note that being white is beautiful and being beautiful is what you need to be accepted by everyone. But the turning point was, although it's so shallow, is the ganguro girls of Japan. LOL. They all wanted to be tan and dark and I find them beautiful. Then it occurred to me that some people actually want my skin's natural color.

    That's when I stopped desiring to be whiter. And now, I'm proud to be a true blue brown-skinned Pinay who's pango (still wishes to have a nose job, just for the sake of experiencing having something done. LOL), still a bit insecure about some things but have accepted that this is who I am and this is what makes me unique. I will improve myself for myself but I should accept, that just like what you said, up to a certain limit. :)

  8. Rae, you always surprise me. :)

    Although I don't necessarily agree that you're 'not pretty'. The definition of beauty differs from one individual to another, across places all over the world. You're bothered with your round nose? I'm sometimes bothered by my long, strong nose because I feel it makes me look like a guy on some angles. You've got thick hair, chubby cheeks — just a few things that I wished I had.

    I guess, in the end, it's not just about achieving beauty anymore. There's always someone more beautiful out there; Someone more intelligent, someone funnier, someone better in juggling beer bottles or shooting with one eye closed. It might be achieving contentment which is, of course, easier said than done that it's quite funny i even said that. So let's just laugh while continue doing what we're good at and get better at it. :D

  9. Haha, thanks for thinking that I'm not 'not pretty'.

    I think the point I'm getting at with this post is that. I just stopped judging myself anymore. :)

  10. Cherise St. Claire Reply

    We are all pretty in our own ways. You may have a pimply face and an uneven eyes but you have such a gift in writing which other “non pimply faced girls” don't have. You are awesome Rae!

  11. You always inspire me to write no-nonsense posts, Rae. I love how personal and honest this one is.

    P.S. I'm excited for PFT to start again! :)

  12. Good post! I hope a lot of girls will read this. Even the “pretty” girls! There are pretty girls who still feel the same way.. that they are not pretty enough, tall enough, thin enough. But we have to accept that we can't be the prettiest, tallest, smartest, thinnest.. diba? :) Like you said, the most important thing is being yourself.

    Join my giveaway!

  13. Very nice post! Nakarelate ako dun sa natatakot na baka iwan ako ng husband ko pag may dumating na artistahin. Especially now, stretchmarks and all. I still need to work on accepting myself. Parang bumaba confidence level ko after having Kelly since I gained weight plus all the stretchmarks the pregnancy caused.

  14. I agree with the “personality” plea. It already became a way of convincing yourself even if you're not pretty, you're ok, at least you have “personality”

    Still not as effective as accepting yourself.

  15. True, sometimes I feel that many of the prettier girls have it harder. I see more average-looking people who are more confident. Because they've accepted who they are and they don't feel the need to look pretty and to outshine others.

  16. It's a common feeling pala. Glad to know I wasn't alone feeling that. I never said it to anyone before because of my ego.

    Anyhow, once your 2nd baby is out, Project Fit and Toned will be ON.

  17. I love this post! I've often felt like you did, and somewhere along the way I simply decided to make do with what God had given me. There are days when I don't feel so confident, but I know that it won't last forever.

    Good to hear you're more at peace with your true self now.

  18. I couldn't agree more! Being “pretty” is overrated. After all, what is a pretty face without personality and a brain? But then being a “social butterfly” and a smarty is overrated too. In the end, all you can really do is improve, not change your self. Yes you can use make-up, educate yourself, and try to socialize and smile more often. But in the end, you also have to learn to love your bare face, know how to laugh at yourself for doing something stupid, and realize the value of silence and being alone.

    That is why my favorite quote ever (although it's may sound a bit religious) is “beauty is understanding that you are fearfully and wonderfully made”.

  19. Hi Marian, thanks for the comment :)

    I think it's a different case for people who are actually considered pretty to feel unpretty.

    For many of us typically considered average-looking, I feel like there's nothing wrong with not trying to 'convince myself that I'm pretty.

    I'm ok with being not pretty, and I don't feel bad. :)

  20. In my very similar case naman, I knew I could use heaps of pampaganda strategies (minus invasive surgeries) and I ventured into each and every one that I could have a good use for. I strongly agree with you that there's a limit to how pretty we can get. I accepted that fact (which didn't happen with a bat of an eyelash, btw) and was able to finally redeem myself from irrationally sulking.

    But that strategy isn't foolproof. I think I may have to try yours :)

  21. ♦ Μαℜιαη's Ηου§Ξ öF ναηιτϒ♚ ♦ Reply

    Hi Ms. Rae, I think that there are times that most of us girls feel that way, even the supermodels, I guess. There are some who are completely pretty but would think that there is something missing or they would still want more. Maybe because that is really what we are, we just have to be contented.

    Sabi nga nila “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. What might be beautiful for you may not be beautiful to others. You might find yourself unpretty sometimes, but its okay, you’re not the only one, believe me; we just have to deal with it. Besides, not all pretty girls have a pretty mind like yours.

    Honestly, I am one of those girls who wished to have a face like a celebrity and to have that wonderful mind like yours, which can simply write down exactly what you think without struggling; but of course we cannot have it all. You’re right we just have to love our self and our own flaws. Sabi mo nga. ”true confidence comes from accepting yourself and how you are created”. And I think that would make us feels pretty!:) ♥

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