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The Australian author Robert Hoge, who describes himself as “the ugliest person you’ve never met,” thinks we get it all wrong when we tell children looks don’t matter: “They know perfectly well they do.”
A former speechwriter, he has written a book for children, based on his own life story, called “Ugly.” He finds children are relieved when a grown person talks to them candidly about living with flawed features in a world of facial inequality. It’s important they know that it’s just one thing in life, one characteristic among others.
"ADULTS often tangle themselves in knots when discussing physical appearance with children. We try to iron out differences by insisting they don’t matter, attribute a greater moral fortitude to the plain or leap in defensively when someone is described as not conventionally attractive, or — worse — ugly or fat.
After all, there are better, kinder words to use, or other characteristics to focus on.
We talk about body shape, size and weight, but rarely about distorted features. And we talk about plainness, but not faces that would make a surgeon’s fingers itch.
It’s important to talk to children, he says, before 'they get sucked into the tight vortex of peer pressure, where every single difference is a case for disaster. Don’t tell kids they’re all beautiful; tell them it’s O.K. to look different.'"