Fat, Ugly, and Stupid.

>> Friday, May 13, 2011

Sisters, I need help. I'm 17 years old. I am constantly being called fat, ugly and stupid. I have no one to talk to. I feel so depressed, like I've lost the will to live. I'm sorry for taking up your time, but I don't know who else to tell. I can't afford a therapist and i just have no one to talk to.

Dear Sister,
I was so disheartened to see your letter and to read about what you’re going through! I know you’re not alone, though. Unfortunately, too many sisters have to go through the same thing. There are a lot of people out there (read- usually family members) who think that they are 'encouraging' you to be 'better' by 'insulting you'. They think that will help you ‘become the person they want you to be’. Sometimes, they are geuninely concerned about you but have a lousy way to show it. More often than not, these people haven’t been taught any other way/ didn’t read about how to be an effective parents/ etc. and have their own scars/issues …and unfortunately, they take it out on you.

You end up feeling like you’re not worthy, like a lesser human being.

And let me tell you right now, that’s NOT TRUE.

To each and every one of you sisters who has gone through this, I want to say that I am so proud of you. You are my sister in Islam and I love you. And even if this sounds corny, I’m going to say it anyway (because I bet you haven’t heard it enough): You are one in a million. No, wait, I take that back. You are one in more than 6 billion! You are special and beautiful.

Allah subhanoo Wa' Tala created YOU. You are beautiful- Allah shaped you.

He Who created you, formed you, proportioned you, and assembled you in whatever way He willed (Surat al-Infitar, 6-8)

It’s really important that you believe that.

The truth is having a positive self image and feeling confident makes you naturally beautiful and charismatic. When you think of yourself well, and you carry yourself with pride, your beauty will shine. The opposite is also true- the more that you put yourself down, that you listen to people who discourage you, the more that you begin to look that part. Unfortunately, the more that you look the part, the more that people stop seeing the real you and only see that side of you.

Our self-image, strongly held, essentially determines what we become" - Maxwell Maltz

What can help you make you feel good about yourself?

Think about how important you are in the sight of Allah. The Lord of the Universe- the Supreme Being- Allah, cares even if you feel the prick of a needle.

Remember, this: your blood is more sacred to Him than the Kaaba.

The prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam said "The blood of a Muslim is worth more than the Ka'aba and all its surroundings."

Secondly, remember the story of the companion Ibn Masoud.

Ibn Masoud was not distinguished because of his social status for he was a poor shepherd with no wealth, or because of his physical strength, for he was thin and frail. Yet he was dear and beloved by the Prophet, peace be upon him, who appreciated his sincere devotion and his eagerness for the knowledge of Islam. He once climbed a tree to get a twig for the Prophet, peace be upon him, to use as a miswak. When the Prophet's companions saw his thin legs, they laughed..

The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "You laugh at ibn Masoud's legs! They are in the sight of Allah heavier in the Scale than the mountain of Uhud!" taken from here

What about the story of Julaybeeb? He was another companion of the Prophet. His name actually meant ‘small and incomplete’. Well, Julaybeeb’s lineage wasn’t known. He was poor and he was thought of as being unattractive. Nobody wanted to marry him. One day the Prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam had a man go to a family with the intention of asking their daughter to marry Julaybeeb. This was the mother’s reaction:

To Julaybib! No, never to Julaybib! No, by the living Allah we shall not marry (her) to him.” she protested.

And yet, the young woman (whom the Prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam) wanted to marry Julaybeeb accepted the proposal. You know what?

Julaybeeb ended up being a martyr in Islam and the Prophet had this to say of him: “…This (man) is of me and I am of him.

You see? Originally people had mistakenly thought of Julaybeeb as being ‘unworthy’. They had no idea what his worth was in the sight of Allah. They had no idea that they were looking at someone Allah was proud of- a martyr!

One last hadith:
A man passed by the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam one day. He sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam asked his companions, “What do you think of this man?’ They replied,‘He deserves to be married to whomsoever he proposes, to have his intercession accepted when he intercedes and to be listened to when he speaks.’ The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam remained silent. Then a poor Muslim man passed by and the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam asked the companions, “What do you think of this man?” They replied, ‘He deserves not to be married when he proposes, nor to have his intercession accepted when he intercedes nor to be listened to when he speaks.’ The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam then said, “This one is as much as the fill of the Earth better than the other” (Bukhaari).

In this hadith, people judged others and essentially belittled them. But look at what the Prophet (sallah Allah alayhee wa salaam) revealed- that these people were much more important, more honorable, more loved to Allah than others had realized.

You see what I’m saying? (Baba Ali style!)

The truth is Allah does not look at our bodies. He does not look at our last names. And He doesn’t care about how much money we have or what grade we are in/ if we're in the Advanced Math Class. Allah looks at our hearts.

Abu Huraira (Radi Allah Anhu) reported Allah's Messenger (sal-allahu-alleihi-wasallam) as saying: "Verily Allah does not look to your faces and yourwealth but He looks to your heart and to your deeds”.

Never forget that. Never forget that you are more than just a number, whether that number is how much you weight, what size you wear, your GPA, your credit in the bank, how many friends you have, etc as Hala Banani from Muslim Matters stated: A person’s self-worth is not based on some number – it’s not how much is in the bank account, IQ, size, GPA or salary. "

It’s also very important that you realize that you are not your history/ your mistakes/ your sins. Those were things that you did-but they are not you. We’re humans and we all make mistakes.

So then what are you?

You are a beautiful soul.

And that’s why I want you to write a list of things that you like about yourself. Don’t be embarrassed. It’s important that you recognize your good values, whether it’s how patient you are or how you help your little brother with his homework. You should be able to think up of at least 10 things that you like about yourself. Whenever you’re feeling a little down, just take out your list and remind yourself of how special you are. You can even talk to yourself in the mirror. Look at that reflection and tell her "You are beautiful. You're going places. You were made to go to jannah!"

If five people call you ugly, then you tell yourself five times that you are beautiful. Don't let others tell you what to think about yourself!

What else can help you improve your self image?

Part of feeling good about yourself comes from accomplishing things. Now, don’t get me wrong- these don’t have to be big things, even getting small things done can make you feel a lot better. So the next step is to try to write a few goals.

Remember, we can all work on some things. What is it about you that you wish you could improve? Maybe you get angry really quickly? Or you say what’s on your mind without thinking? Or maybe you’ve stopped taking care of yourself?

You know yourself best. Write down a few goals on a sheet of paper. I recommend writing it as if you’ve already accomplished it. For example,“I now clean my room without being told”. If you read your goals each day, you should feel motivated to really work on it.

Try to make one goal something about helping out your community….whether it’s helping to babysit a neighbor’s kids or planting a tree. When you see how valuable you are to your community, that should help your confidence grow.

At the same time, I think you need to talk to your family about how you feel. Your family might not realize how hurt you are. If you feel a little shy confronting your parents, why don’t you talk to an older sibling or to a close aunt/ uncle and ask them to let your parents know. You could always write a letter, too. Tell them that you’re open to positive criticism but that you feel like you’re being constantly put down. Ask them to help you improve by supporting you and recognizing what you do well.

To be honest, you still might not see a change in their attitude. If you don’t, always remember that the best person in the entire universe heard hurtful comments and unfair accusations by his own family. As Nouman Khan said, “Who could possibly have any reason to hate the Prophet (sallah Allah alayhee wa salaam)?” And yet, people called him possessed by devils or a person who practiced sorcery.

So anytime you hear a comment (and there isn’t any truth in it), then think of it as an opportunity to gain extra good deeds and to erase some sins. We can always do with more chances to increase our good credit, after all.

And! Remember, you always have someone to talk to. Allah subhanoo Wa' tala.

If My servants ask you about Me, I am near. I answer the call of the caller when he calls on Me. Surat al-Baqara, 186)
I leave you with this,

Their Lord gives them the good news of His mercy and good pleasure, and of Gardens in which they will enjoy everlasting delight, remaining in them timelessly, forever and ever. Truly, there is an immense reward with Allah. (Surat at-Tawba, 21-22)

I love you.

11 wonderful sprinkely thoughts:

Yasmin May 12, 2011 at 11:46 AM  

Lovely Posst , i even feel same sometimes . but trust me dis worlds few beauty isnt worth , i will wait for JANNAh . !! , inshALLAh . btw sister

Pray for my result :/

dawnrose May 13, 2011 at 11:46 PM  

Mashallah, great answer Little Miss Aunty. May Allah Bless you. I sincerely hope that the asker may see things in a new light.

My advice:

1)Don't let negative things go to your head. Convince yourself that Allah made you and for that, you ARE beautiful. Anyone saying differently is contradicting that. Allah gave you shape, fashioned you and gave you a whole soul to appreciate. He created an exterior for you, which some people don't have the luxury of enjoying (amputated legs, missing arms, etc.).

2)People who judge you on the outside are being a bit ludicrous. Why do I say this? Because beauty is TOO subjective. A western twist on this issue is "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." One person may have an opinion on beauty, but the other may have a different take on it. Just like how people categorize "dark" skin as not beautiful, other people find it, BEAUTIFUL. So if they don't think you look good, shrug and say, "if Allah loves me for my heart and deeds, surely I'm beautiful enough for him. I don't need to please anyone."

3)People's critiscm can actually motivate you to become better internally and out. If they claim you are "fat" and that is their way of saying you need to become healthy, then take that in your stride and try to heal yourself and becoming fit for HEALTH, not BEAUTY. You want to feel fit so you feel better inside, and so that you feel HEALTHIER. Do some exercise to refresh yourself, eat tasty yet healthy foods, and don't think too much of "losing weight". Your goal is to achieve a new aim/approach towards health and appearance. One step at a time. People say that when you reach out too hard and grasp too hard at something, you're might actually lose it. But unexpectedly, things can happen, so be patient. You can't lose weight in such a rapid time, and in any case, that is not your goal, remember? :)

4)Some way or another we were made beautiful. Beauty comes in too many shapes and forms, and most people jump to the conclusion that "beauty" exists on the outside. ONLY. Whereas it actually comes out in many forms. You can be a remarkable person and be beautiful. You can be an intelligent person and be beautiful. You can be a faithful, loving or religious person and be beautiful. You can be physically beautiful and be beautiful. Or you can be a little out of all of them and be beautiful. Humans are too complex to be categorized.:)

dawnrose May 13, 2011 at 11:47 PM  

Continuing from above:

5)They have NO right to call you stupid. Again, they are critizing Allah's Creation. If anyone calls me that, I tend to ignore them, and instead, work hard towards my goal, no matter what they say. Great success stories don't start from geniuses. Thomas Edison's three months of official schooling ended before he invented the first commercially practical incandescent light. Albert Einstein was thought dumb when he was at school. Focus on your strengths and though there are people to deter you out there, no one really can put a halt to everything except yourself. Keep studying because pursuing knowledge is highly recommended in Islam, and there are numerous sayings of the Prophet on knowledge.

He said:
"Whoever seeks a path in search of knowledge, Allah would make easy for him a path leading to Jannah (paradise)." (Abu Dawud)

The Quran says:
(Allah will exalt in degree those of you who believe and those who have been granted knowledge.) (58:11)

6)This is another great reason why hijab is a great solution on this. The hijab turns our attention from "looks" and gives focus on the inner qualities of a woman, which would otherwise not be seen in this modern world. Such as her faith, intelligence, personality, love. The hijab is worn for Allah's Pleasure, and not to please other people. We don't want to be sexually objectified. We want people to see the TRUE worth of ourselves. :) So don't let people make conclusions for you. You have your own mind and soul, so judge yourself wisely. LOVE yourself. You are proof of Allah's Power in creating all things beautiful!

7)Become closer to Allah. When you do, your heart is healed and soothed. You don't care what other people think, but what ALLAH Thinks. Your prayer is a one-to-one communication in Allah. Seek solace, love, warmth, and protection in it. Insha'Allah Allah will INCREASE your inner and outer beauty, more than it is already. :D

Love, :)

Anonymous,  May 14, 2011 at 3:40 AM  

Dawnrose: MashaAllah, greeeeeeeeeaaaaaat advice! Love what you said! :D :D

Umm Teem May 14, 2011 at 3:46 AM  

Assalamu'alaykum!! Aww... That's so sweet dear little aunties! Beautiful advices!

To add: Dear sister, don't let whatever they say put you down! You have the right not to 'swallow' them all..

Aww.. I understand how you feel. Have a sister who complained the same thg and that what people say to her really hurt her feelings! NOw i have better advices to give to her-thanks to all of you! Alhmdulillah ;)

@Dawnrose: You've had all out! No more comments :D

Really love you all for HIS sake. (^^)

Umm Khaleel May 14, 2011 at 4:43 AM  

Aww Masha Allah LOVE the advices by both Little Miss Aunty and Sis Dawnrose! I don't think I have much to add..

My dear sis, I really wish I can fly over right now and give you the biggest hug! :( No one deserves to be looked down upon like that! I don't know you but I'm sure, you're beautiful both on the inside and out. Don't let others tell you otherwise! <3

Sonia,  May 14, 2011 at 5:45 AM  

MashaAllah Aunties and Dawnrose, you both have addressed the sister’s question so eloquently and beautifully. I wish there was something I could add to all that has been said that’s of some value. The only thing I can do, is share with the little sister my own experience.

Once upon a time, I too was 17. I was overweight, and was called names by people from whom I have expected unconditional love and support. As a kid, when neighborhood kids would exclude me from the game, saying, “You’re a fatso, we don’t want you on our team” I’d shed few drops of tears, turn around and go home. When my own mother would take away the breadbasket, saying, “You really don’t need it. You’re already getting fatter by day” … how can I describe the stabbing sensation in my chest or the tears which I couldn’t hold back. I was always compared to everyone; cousins, friends and neighbors. I felt inadequate, unworthy of love, and deeply depressed. When I was depressed, I’d turn to food for comfort even more, which in turn made me gain even more weight. But it changed. Not suddenly, but with lots of trial and error. I don’t want you to go down the error part of the trial, which I did. Thus I would like to tell you as a sister to sister:

1. Seek support. Are you in high school? Is there one teacher or guidance counselor who is good at listening and is understanding? Go talk to that person. Ask that person to help you figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are. You can be great problem solver, or great at writing. Use your strength to your advantage by selecting classes and community workshops. If you are great at writing, you can attend writers’ workshop. You will feel energized when people who are interested in same thing as you surround you. As for your weaknesses, whether its mathematics or social sciences plug yourself in and try your best.
2. Stop being a wallflower. I was. For too long. What a waste of time. You know who’s admired the most? One’s who can come into the room with big smile, and cheery attitude and light up the space with their presence. You don’t have to act like a sugarcoated candy. I know some sisters who are shy and reserved, but still walk into any room with big smile and an audible salaam and their presence lights up the place. You may say “But what if they don’t return my salaam/hello?” Quran says that when someone offers a greeting we should return their greeting with bigger greeting, or at least with equal one. So if a person didn’t reply to your greeting with “Wa alaikum salaam.” So don’t worry about them returning or not returning your greeting. Just do your part. Same with at school, walk into your class with a big smile and audible “Good Morning!”


Sonia,  May 14, 2011 at 5:46 AM  


3. Learn to love yourself. Love yourself for who you are, and how Allah subhan wa ta’ala has created you. Respect yourself, and respect your body. I have shed 40lbs and 6 dress sizes (sometimes when Im busy I go down another 7lbs and another dress size, so it fluctuates a little bit). When I was 17, I tried everything to lose weight, from diet pills to becoming anorexic. But only after I learned how Allah subhan wa ta’ala designed our bodies, have I been able to lose weight and keep it off for so many years. What’s the secret you may ask? Well there’s no secret. Have you read the hadith, in which Muhammad sallahAllahu Alayhi wa sallam said we should fill 1/3 of our body with food, 1/3 with water, and 1/3 with air? It is equally important to remember what kind of food to eat when filling our belly with 1/3. Should it be French fries, hamburger, pizza, or a big plate of biryani? I often think of it this way, “What did Prophet sallahAllahu alayhi wa sallam and sahabas ate? Im sure they didn’t have the luxury of sweets, fried, and lots of rice. All of these are recent luxuries. They ate stews, meat and plain bread. Choose what you eat carefully, being mindful and respectful to your body. We weren’t designed to eat over-processed foods with endless number of additives and preservatives. If you read the label of the food, and it has more than 5 ingredients and more than 2 additives with names you can’t pronounce, put it back. Fill up with fresh vegetables and fruits. The benefits of such eating are not only on your body weight, but also how clear your face will become, and how healthy and energized you will feel yourself. Remember, our bodies are an amanah from Allah subhan wa ta’ala, take a good care of it.
4. Take a good care of yourself. Don’t be neglectful of yourself. When we slip into depression, we forget to take care of ourselves. Take a nice hot shower, fix up your hair in some new cute way. Smear some khol on your eyes, and put a dab of perfume on yourself. Put on that cute dress or outfit you reserved for wearing to special occasion, along with a bracelet or a bangle and earrings. You will feel refreshed instantly. Walk with confidence, knowing that Allah subhan wa ta’ala has created you exactly how you were supposed to be. Do you think Allah subhan wa ta’ala is prone to mistakes? No way! So you cannot not love yourself the way your Creator has created you.
Physical appearance changes sister, but inner self is what will be of value in the long run. Work to improve your inner self. Put your trust in Allah subhan wa ta’ala. Make lots of duas. This one is my favorite:
Allahumma inni asaluka hubaka,
Wa hubbaman ya hibuka,
Wal amal al-ladhi bel leghuni hubbaka,
Allahumma ja’al hubbaka a-habba alay-yai,
Min nafsi, wa-ahli,wa minal barrid.

O Allah I ask You for Your Love,
And the love of those whom You Love,
And the actions that will cause me to attain unto Your Love,
O Allah make Your love more beloved,
to me than myself, my family and even from cold water. (At-Tirmidhi)

dawnrose May 15, 2011 at 12:10 AM  

@little miss aunty
Awww, thanks! Alhamdulillah! I was typing in such a rush, I got A LOT of grammatical errors and typos and so on! I was like, Oops. But you're much better. You always give really great, practical advice for some really tough issues. Keep the effort going! There are a lot of people keeping up with this blog.

@umm khaleel
Wow, thankies! :) I was really flattered! I feel the same towards the sister too. It's a pity so many girls feel this way. The pressure in the society is just upping so much!

Haha, yeah I had it all out! I was in a total, righteous rush to type everything :D and the results was so many typos. hehehe.

Thank you! Alhamdulillah~
Sis, I'm really sorry you had to endure that. No person should ever endure horrible taunting like that. It's horrible. I can't imagine what you must have gone through, but believe me, I'm no alien to seeing incidents like that occur. I've seen some happen with my relatives. And it's degrading. I want to give you a really big hug when you were seventeen. I'm sure you have matured and see things in a better light, Alhamdulillah. People just DON'T realize what a big impact words have on people.

Oh ... and on your advices ... now who's giving the good advice? ;) Awesome tips. Especially since it's from the heart. It's really practical. :D

May Allah Bless you all.

Little Auntie May 15, 2011 at 4:13 AM  

Asalamu aliakaum!
Wow, we should just make a whole post with you guys' advice. ma'shaAllah, such good answers.

Moslemiche: May He for whose sake you love us for, love you!!

Dawnrose- Jazakillah for taking the time to write such a thorough reply!

Sonia- my darling. I'm very sorry that you had to go through all that. I'm sorry also if by writing your comment you had to relive those painful memories. I can honestly say that from what I know of you- you are beautiful inside and out, ma'shaAllah. Your advice was very heartfelt and sincere and I believe will inshaAllah help her out!

Ameen to that beautiful dua.

UmmKHaleel- I'm sure your hug means a lot to the sister.
Hugs to every sister who feels like that.

Asilolo March 1, 2013 at 2:34 PM  

Sonia, you made my day. seriously, MashaAllaah im glad Allaah led me to your comment Alhamdulillaah <3 Dawnrose aswell, i will copy a bit of what you guys said and have it as a reminder because i often find myself mentally bullying myself, good news, no more InshaAllaah <33

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Asalamu aialkum!
Well, what do you think? You know, you're part of the team, as well. Please help a sister out and share your own advice/experiences/etc. One for all and all for one =)
P.S. I reserve the right to remove any disrespectful comment ;)

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