I was either just called ugly. Or uninteresting. Or unpopular. Or all of the above.

Let me start here:: I know I’m pretty good-looking. (And if this is your first time visiting my blog, WELCOME! And I want to assure you that I don’t typically start my posts with conceit.)

But it’s an important place to start.

I’m actually in a pretty ideal place of attractiveness, truth be told. I can generally feel good about myself, and am not SO good-looking that it’s a problem.

I have friends, clients and colleagues who experience their overtly good looks as a serious impediment to being taken seriously, to being empathized with and to being celebrated for their brilliance.

That makes me pretty mad. And we move through it.

I also have friends, clients and colleagues who experience their perceived LACK of overtly good looks as a serious impediment to being taken seriously, to being empathized with and to being celebrated for their brilliance.

That ALSO makes me pretty mad. And we move through it.

Yesterday, I received an email from someone stating I was not a candidate to be on her show because, well, I don’t meet the criteria of being “strong visually”.

So…like I said in the title of this post, I was either just called ugly. Or uninteresting. Or unpopular. Or all of the above.

The first three drafts of this post had much to say about the hypocrisy of this woman. Her show. Her mandate.

But they didn’t make it past the editing stage. Too many swears. Not enough substance.

And ultimately? I get it. TV requires boundaries. Baselines. Limits. And tough, tough, tough skin.

(I also get that “not strong visually” is not ACTUALLY the same as “ugly”. But I’m working on that “tough skin” piece and have miles to go.)

I’m human.

And being called ugly, or uninteresting, or unpopular, or all of the above hurt.

But it wasn’t just my vanity that had me sobbing to my husband last night like tears were going out of style. I was over THAT by the time I’d rounded up my sisters (and sister) who took on my hurt with the love, rage and righteous indignation of a thousand wounded Mama Bears (bless them all) freeing me up to feel underneath it.

Here’s what I found that had me doubled over the chopping block in tears::

There are women with ideas far wiser, wider and more profound than mine that are keeping them to themselves because they don’t feel they are beautiful enough, smart enough, accomplished enough to be seen and heard.

I’ll repeat myself from my TEDx talk:: that to me, is UNACCEPTABLE.

Like, can’t BREATHE, unacceptable. Crying as I type this, unacceptable. Gasping for breath, unacceptable.

Please, please, please::



And also, I know this. At my very very very best, I try to shine some love ‘n light towards the woman who may well be in her own world of hurt. Maybe she has felt the sting of being passed over for her looks and finds using words like the ones she used on me soothes it. Or maybe she likes efficiency. But really, it kinda feels like there is a belief operating that we can’t both be happy with who we are. That we need to be on opposite sides.

Either way.

I come back to this. Can we once again, please try to find a kinder, gentler way forward? Lighter words? More heart? Sisters, can we please put away the scissors?


Two more requests::

1) I’m not interested in a debate about whether or not I am attractive…frankly, my ego couldn’t take it. And it’s boring. And reductive. (Plus, as above, I am at home with my brand of attractiveness, so honestly, I don’t need to know what others think of my looks…and I also hope you hear the love in this request.)


2) If this HAS helped you in any way, will you please let me know? It will make the impending vulnerability hangover that much more bearable. Moreover, will you tell me if this inspired you to be kinder, gentler and more loving to someone in your life? Thank you. Thank you.

With love,

PS – It’s the wildly gorgeous, talented and brilliant Susannah Conway’s birthday today and she has invited me and some other sisters to write about the empowerment of aging. And though that’s not what this post was about, I think it’s my 41 years that gave me the courage to press publish.

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61 Responses to I was either just called ugly. Or uninteresting. Or unpopular. Or all of the above.

  1. Oh my goodness…I am in the process of writing my own “toughest ever” post…and it has to do with being able to say what I need to say and share what I need to share without fear of being challenged, disagreed with, not liked, not loved, not approved of etc. etc. So thank you. I totally get it.
    KCLAnderson (Karen) recently posted..“Instructions For A Bad Day”My Profile

  2. Teresa says:

    I love you.
    Teresa recently posted..The Untold Mine and Not MineMy Profile

  3. Andrea says:

    Um…. me too. I just wrote a post about what gets in the way of my not being able to show up consistently and say what I want to say. There must be something in the air. We’re sick of this, aren’t we? We’re sick of the outside-in approach. We’re sick of what other people think of us (or not) dictating our lives. I know I am. So, thank you, you gorgeous being, you. Thank you for owning this ugh and sharing it with us. You’re not alone, love. XOXO

    • Tanya says:

      I think that’s what had me so surprised. I thought I was on the other side of allowing others’ opinions of me (physically or otherwise) to have any impact on me. My teachers are everywhere. I’m relieved that this has been received largely as I’d intended:: a rallying cry for kindness.
      Write on, dear A.

  4. Elan Morgan says:

    I have mostly come to terms with my appearance, but I also confront the reality that I am not physically an ideal for big media’s mass consumption. I am not the everyman’s cup of tea.

    This is both a gift, because ideas with immediate broad appeal are usually weak, and a curse, because my ideas do not necessarily create immediate broad appeal. Always with the flip sides, these gifts and curses.

    • Tanya says:

      You’re my cup of tea.
      I swim in wide waters sometimes and deep waters other times. I make up that it’s hard for people to count on the kind of waters they can find me in. It’s the AND part that is the genesis for my new Ampersand Series.
      Thank you. For your writing, your inspiration, and for being here.

  5. Ali Shapiro says:

    How inspiring to show up exactly as you are…with your range of feelings. I really appreciated this post because it gets to the structural/systemic issues that often aren’t discussed in a coaching framework (as we work to get our clients to take responsibility for their thoughts/actions/etc.)

    But the truth is there are real systemic problems that not one person can change (this is true of the TV world existing within a society that doesn’t like to deviate from a template to claiming everyone is responsible for their money problems when that is only part of the story…hello working wages here in the U.S. not keeping pace with inflation, etc.).

    Everyone loves to quote Gandi’s “be the change.” but that was only half the original quote. The other half was about being that change to make it better for others. Changing the paradigm not just our internal worlds.

    When it comes to girl on girl crime or girl on woman crime (as I see this incident as), there are cultural conditioned reasons for this that must come out of the dark.

    You are doing that with this post. Starting a great conversation that needs to be discussed and understood from many angles. Only in that mature diplomacy can we make it better for ourselves and the collective.


    Kudos to you Tanya!

  6. Thank you for speaking this, Tanya, with such precision and grace. I have definitely experienced this, and am not willing to let it extinguish my Light (hard as that can be at times!). I’m all for the kinder, gentler way forward, lighter words, more heart and true sisterhood. Blessings to you and every woman on the sometimes heart-breaking journey to being truly seen, heard, honoured, cherished, enough for exactly who she is. <3
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  7. YES.YES.YES!!!!!!!!! This woman was the catapult for you to deliver this message for us that need this desperately in our lives. You change us move us and help us become the human beings we are meant to be!!

  8. I love you. And this.
    Amanda Farough recently posted..How generosity shaped my businessMy Profile

  9. Abbie says:

    Oh Tanya, I love this post. And I love you too- you’re amazing! Thank you for posting this <3

  10. Leela says:

    Yes, yes yes, I experience my appearance as an impediment. I don’t even think (anymore) that my baseline appearance is that problematic. But my ability to dress in a way that is both comfortable to me and “professional”, indeed my ability to FIND a visual identity at all? Problematic. I don’t feel visually ready to stand up in front of the room, although I am entirely ready in all other respects. I love leading, I love public speaking (something I NEVER thought I’d say when I was a kid), but self-branding, self-marketing, and staying true to myself? Challenging. Thanks for writing this.
    Leela recently posted..more exercise, better sexMy Profile

  11. Brandi says:

    Oh my goodness this could not have come at a better time. I have adopted a traumatized child purposefully as a single parent and in the process have become somewhat of an unwilling and apprehensive PUBLIC voice for child sexual abuse. Sharing my own story of child sexual abuse, that of my daughters and also the voice of all the silent parents faced with parenting kids in the face of this debilitating epidemic. This wasn’t done on purpose, however i’m well aware that I have a powerful message and voice and unique perspective. I wholeheartedly agree my voice NEEDS to be heard but am struggling with anxiety after filming a documentary last week on how I will LOOK. I’m well past my ideal weight, and have all these interesting new character lines showing up on my face. I’ve always struggled with my attractiveness and loving my outward self. My inward self is far easier to love, strong and empowered is sexy! LOL. However the mirror doesn’t reflect how I feel on the inside and though I’ve clearly said “screw it” to the fear of being “seen” because I need to be heard without a doubt, clearly there’s still a major hang up. – anxiety over the airing of our documentary episode, of commercials, speeches and interviews. All if which I do anyway, but reading this has made me realize – why should my attractiveness factor into it? I know i’m worthy for what’s on the inside. I know I have a valuable message. I know I can and do help. So thank you for making me get that’s much more important. And that i’m not alone in this frustration over society and myself thinking I do not having the right look to deliver a powerful message. I’m me. That needs to be enough.

  12. Sas says:

    How disappointing. And bland. And ORDINARY. Those shows that parrot the safe path, that keep within limits. As if thats what we want. As if we need protecting from the raw and the truth and the vulnerable.
    When will they learn we are hungry for that stuff?!
    You are magic xx

  13. Lesley says:

    This post touched me deeply. I am in wholehearted agreement with you, and I have also experienced holding myself back because of my appearance, and have had several instances of having my feelings and concerns gaslighted/shrugged off when I’ve been feeling ‘less than’ because of how I look.

    My heart hurts for you and for all the women and men who have experienced things like this, who have dimmed their light because of fearing judgment about any part of themselves, outward or inward. It takes a lot of bravery to be vulnerable and to lay yourself bare to others’ opinions. As much as we can say they don’t matter, we’re human. Words hurt. Fear of others’ judgment exists. We hide and stifle and avoid and downplay and self-deprecate and shut out and stay silent to protect ourselves.

    Your post has inspired me to be kinder and gentler to someone in my life – myself. Voluntarily being a part of the most superficial industry on the planet has been a test for me — to see if I have a thick skin, in part; to help build my self-esteem in another part… but I have realized a lot of the time the most worry and lack of confidence I feel is brought on by myself convincing me that I’m not good enough as a direct result of my physical appearance. Sometimes I feel very empowered, but much of the time I feel uncomfortable, because of the things I tell myself, and this post has given me lots to think about in terms of how I want to move forward and what I *really* need to be doing in life. I have a lot I need to share and say, and I don’t want to be silenced by my own fear.

    So much love to you. Thank you for sharing this sensitive topic and being who you are. You inspire me.

  14. Julie Daley says:

    Your words open the door to one of the biggest places we are wounded as women…the wound between women. Thank you for articulating this so beautifully, with grace.
    Julie Daley recently posted..Aging: Coming to be a wild soul alive in an erotic body.My Profile

  15. deb says:

    Thanks for putting this out there. For using your experience to shine a light on the unacceptable and to sprinkle the fairy dust of acceptance on it all. Even when it hurts.

    Moving through it, indeed. xo

  16. Annika says:

    You lift us up with your strength, perspective and unrelentlessly loving response to even the most fury-inducing things. So grateful you are here, inspiring us all to lift ourselves higher and straighter. Big love. xox
    Annika recently posted..Are you mama or papa to a furry one? Including your pets in your spiritual practice.My Profile

  17. Tanith says:

    Thank you! This has definitely make me feel more confident today. More like I’m living in a world of supportive and encouraging people who just want to be nice to each other and help everyone be happy and successful. Sometimes the people who aren’t so nice can intrude too much on that world.
    It is a reminder to keep being good to others and look away from the mean sentiments.
    Tanith recently posted..A Chewed Straw Hat MakeoverMy Profile

  18. Susan Tuttle says:

    You say it like it is. So real, raw, beautiful! You wear your soul on the outside and it shows. That’s real strength. Real beauty! I am thrilled to have found your inspirational blog via Susannah’s birthday celebration and I look forward to visiting often. “Not visually strong enough” ???? WTF is wrong with them! I’m glad you won’t be on a television show that thinks that way. They just missed out on something very, very good!

  19. jane says:

    This wound of being not enough and too much (and trying to balance on the knife edge in between is ludicrous and all too real. I stop myself from saying what I know because I am not young and beautiful anymore – and what I have to say is much more sonorous BECAUSE I am older. Thank you for your grace and the courage you had in posting this – you really are the kind of woman I would love to see on TV. We have become so shallow because we only want to see 13 year old sticks on TV? Surely? Are we that dumb? Not all of us. I vote for Tanya TV!

  20. Hannah says:

    And perhaps when you have your own show they will learn that you, and I, and we, the real flipping women of this world are exactly what everyone wants. That will be a fun day.

    And seriously, WTF? OK, done now. xo
    Hannah recently posted..So, there’s my neck. A story of growing up.My Profile

  21. I love this post and adore you! What a great way of looking at a hurtful situation. Thank you for writing this. XXOO (PS I think you have great presence. That person needs to be wearing new glasses methinks.)
    Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady recently posted..Biz Shizzle – Have You Gotten Too Big For Your Business Britches?My Profile

  22. Debra Eve says:

    Wow, I never cease to be stunned by what passes for normal behavior in the entertainment industry. I live in LA, see and hear stories like this all the time, and still it shocks and angers me.

    Sending an email mentioning that as a criteria? –> (1) rude, (2) mean, (2) unnecessary, (3) unprofessional on so many levels. You definitely dodged a bullet, Tanya. Thank goodness she wasn’t around when Oprah launched her career. Or Barbara Walters. Or Jane Pauley. All beautiful women who wouldn’t stand a chance if they were starting today.

    I’m with Hannah and Jane, we want Tanya TV! Do it yourself and your right people will find you.
    Debra Eve recently posted..The Thrilling Art of Arthur J. PennMy Profile

  23. DeShawn says:

    I’m one of your secret online BFFs! I could not let this post go unresponded to. Your ability to be honest and articulate always floors me. So, I’m confessing too… I use your TEDX talk (at least monthly or more) to get me through my fearful times. I need the distinction you sorted out between thoughts of being a “loser” and “God almighty,” John Lennon, famously pointed out. It is only after your explanation that it melds the polar sides together and allows me confidence to accept MY authority. I look forward to your newsletters and look forward to the day I can swing one of my bucket list items, which is to have the ability to sit in on the “Board of Life” with you! I’m here to remind you of your authority (not to mention your beauty)! Thanks!

  24. Kris Oster says:

    Thank you beautiful, soulful Tanya for this post. For trusting your sisters out here in the ether-spheres.
    And holding us with you.

    Well, I for one will stoop a little low and say “She’s totally CRAZY-TOWN. And Also, I will say, like you have done, “Bless her heart.”

    My wish is for all women to see how hurting other women just perpetuates their own wounding.

    Love you so much! Thank you for your graciousness.
    Kris Oster recently posted..Where I am now … the Entrepreneur’s 2nd Year JourneyMy Profile

  25. Thank you so much for writing this because I needed to read it. Though my struggles have less to do with my looks and more to do with my abilities or lack thereof, this hit home for me. As does your TED talk about the Impostor Syndrome. I watch it often to help make your message stick.

    And though I know you won’t share, I would love to know whose show that was, just so I could not watch it.

    Thank you for what you do.
    Brenda Nicholson recently posted..That Can of WD-40My Profile

    • Tanya says:

      Thank YOU.
      So much, Love. (And you know I must challenge you on “lack thereof” re: abilities. I suspect your Yum+Yay folder tells a different story.)

  26. Amy says:

    Thanks for posting this! It could not have come at a better time.
    The fear of saying what needs to be said, has kept me from moving forward in my work for a very long time.
    Then it hit me, in order to really do what I am passionate about and help to make healthier changes in our schools and families, I am going to have to say what needs to be said. Some people won’t like it (as I have found, out food is somewhere up there with religion, argument-wise). I have committed to moving forward despite the fear and reminding myself that there is someone out there who will be greatly helped by the work I do.
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  27. I love that you said SAY WHAT YOU NEED TO SAY. I’m trying to find a way to do that, and your words encouraged me to keep trying. Thank you.

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  29. Victoria says:

    Yup, I can see that this post came from the heart and was brave. Still getting over the shock of being deleted from someone’s life for good like a piece of trash for not being ‘visually strong’ enough (and for also being ‘passed my sell-by’) a few years ago now. I never thought of myself as Miss World anyway, but rejection based on looks alone can be deeply hurtful and damaging. The good news is that it matters less and less as I get into my early forties and feel more at ease in my own skin. I also loved Susannah’s birthday post. Like her, I wouldn’t go back to my 20s (or even 30s) for anything or anyone!

  30. Mike' says:

    Tanya I want to thank God for you, I found your blog at one of my lowest points in life. I wish I could understand girls/womens need to evaluate someone elses beauty. Every woman has her own beauty. You are fabulous and fierce and with each step you take, honey drips with each sway of your hips

  31. Rachel says:

    I love you TG. Immensely. xo

  32. Kelly says:

    There are all kinds of reasons why TV (and other) folks have to come up with a ‘reason’ for saying Yes or No. Remember, she is just one person. Just one. And let me assure you, in my books, not only are you strong visually, but also emotionally, intellectually and spiritually; you are strong in kindness, and generosity, and passion, and HEART. You are strong in joy and in love, in character and in wisdom. You are strong in beauty, inside and out. And they missed out (this time). Keep speaking. Keep striving. Keep serving. You are changing lives! Love you! xo
    Kelly recently posted..Optimal Living Returns!My Profile

  33. Thank you, thank you, thank you for that gentle reminder that we should step up and say what we need to say and ignore all the gremlins (inside or out) that tell us someone else is already doing it better. I struggle with this all the time, especially when my blog goes quiet and I feel like I’m reaching no one.

    P.S. I’ve popped onto your site from time to time. I first heard of you through Jamie Ridler who has been a shining star for me. I intend to visit more regularly as each time I find a pearl of wisdom.
    S.M. Hutchins recently posted..So That’s What Was MissingMy Profile

  34. Joanna says:

    Oh! I’m saving your post forever! Thank you so much for shining the light on this! I wish people would get over the fact that it’s the message that’s important. I love your message and it touched me; it’s beautiful! And YOU are beautiful for sharing. Sad to see that the woman who sent you that e-mail is just not open. Gifts from the universe come in all kinds of packages!

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