The Ugly Duckling

Uriel - brookline, Massachusetts
Entered on April 30, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

A boring math class, a couple of months ago, Brookline, Massachusetts… I was sitting with a boy and a girl around a round table; all three of us from different countries around the world. Then, a girl entered the class; let’s say that beauty wasn’t one of her attributes. The girl who sat next to me stared at the girl who entered the class; she had something weird in her eyes. And then she asked the boy next to her a question that lot of us ask ourselves all the time without even paying attention to it.

“Do you think she’s happy?” she asked.

“I don’t know, why?” said the boy.

“Because she’s so…,” she started and stopped for a second, she doesn’t want to say what she is going to say [because she is so…] “ugly….”

“It is not right to judge people because of that,” said the boy robotically.

“Yeah, I don’t know,” finished the girl, not willing to describe why she has implicitly thought so.

The discussion came to its end around the table but continued in my own mind. And in my own discussion I understood the hard truth. I realized that the girl who sat next to me had a very good reason to ask what she asked. After all, I believe too that this girl is not happy.

Have you ever had a discussion exactly like this in your own mind? Because I feel that I have this discussion all the time, and I think that this is a big problem. And not only an individual problem, but a societal problem. Therefore, I think it’s important for me as an individual and as part of society to acknowledge the problem, and see what do we want to do about it.

So first, let’s acknowledge the problem, and say it clearly: In the society that we live in today, things that should not be very important have become the most important things. Beauty, height and material wealth are things that we all want, and we are preoccupied by. We believe that if we are the most famous and if we are beautiful we will be happy. But will we?

If I think deeply about it, the things that really make me feel good in my life are much different than the things that I listed before. Aren’t the thanks of an old woman that you helped, more valuable than 2.5 inches more? Isn’t the announcement that you’re going to have a new family member more exciting than appearing on a TV show? This kind of questions requires me to contrast common answers with what the reality shows us daily.

I believe that it is important for me, to make sure that people around me are happy and feel a real part of society. Moreover, I’m almost sure that this is a very basic obligation of almost all religions and cultures; that this is a part of what makes as human beings.

I believe that our society should destroy the idealized beauty. I believe that if our society won’t destroy the power of the idealized beauty, the power of the idealized beauty will destroy our society. I don’t believe that we should close all the gyms; I don’t believe that we should break all the mirrors and eliminate all movies. But I do believe that the happiness of one sad girl is much more important than all of these things combined.

I hope to see a boring math class in Brookline, Massachusetts, fifty years from today… Someone will sit with a boy and a girl around a round table; all three of them from different countries around the world. Then, a girl will enter the class; let’s say that beauty will not be one of her attributes. And nobody will have to ask: “Do you think she’s happy?”