But, I am not beautiful.

A while ago, I conducted a corporate photoshoot for a company, to shoot some headshots and a few beauty shots for the place. I went there early and started setting up, lights, stands, reflectors, try this, and try that! it looked great. It was a simple yet elegant setup.

We’ve had the list of employees, started calling out names. We have shot from 50-70 person, and to me, these few minutes with all of them in a very short period was more of a lifetime experience, a collective observation, not just a corporate headshot.

An observation!

One of the most pressing and mysterious questions for us humanbeings, is: “are we beautiful, good-looking, what do other humans think of us?” People think about themselves in very different manners than they think of other people. They tent to scrutinize themselves at an incredibly detailed level, much more closely than they examine appearances and actions of others. We have huge amounts of information about ourselves, far more than we have about other people. We’ve seen ourselves with bad hair, when we woke up in the morning, when we’re tired, or when we gained a little weight months ago. We do not look at people with that in mind, only ourselves.

“We’re experts about ourselves, and others aren’t. That makes it hard for us to understand what we look like in the eyes of others”

Nicholas Epley

It was truly shocking to me, that probably more than half of the people I shot, did not believe they were beautiful. It showed, it bothered me, and I honestly believed they were all beautiful and beyond than just good-looking! I myself, think that too, It was just abstract and unnecessary to think of, but when you’re present with more than 50 people around you who think the same, it’s pressing. And I frankly do not blame the media itself for why we judge ourselves that harsh, it’s probably because we also care about how we look and present ourselves to the world, it matters how people perceive us and connect with us, and we know too much about ourselves.

If I have ever taken your photo that day, and you might be reading this, I am assuring you again, you’re beautiful! and it shocks me if you see otherwise!

but, I am not beautiful!

I am highlighting some vivid sentences from the conversations I’ve had that day, uttered by attractive people prior to taking their shots:


– Could you smile a little for me please?

– I’d rather not.

– May I ask why?

– I am not that beautiful, a smile would make it even worse.

– *In-shock* Can I be the judge of that?


– This is the most uncomfortable time for me.

– Why is that?

– I hate being in front of a camera, I am just not good-looking!


– Can you smile for me please?

– I don’t know how, I’d rather we get it over with quick! no smiles, no nothing.


– Oh I am not looking at these photos ever!

– Why is that?

– I don’t like myself right now, maybe If I lose a few pounds, then I’ll do.


– Can you please make me look beautiful, I know it’s hard, but can you try?

– But you are beautiful! I just need to click.

– No stop with the flattering, I’m serious.

the conversations go on!

Most of them did not smile at first, my assistant and I had to ask for it each time, first they’d refuse and we’d negotiate a lot, I often tell them to come and look at their pictures! show them how confident and vibrant they look with a smile on! and it was honestly true, I wasn’t lying to them at all. They honestly showed more charisma when they did, perhaps after a few conversations and negotiating!

It just made me a little sad, gorgeous people, stunning smiles, and they have no idea! Generally men were more confident than women, but frankly it was both sides, males and females. I just couldn’t understand and I wanted them to know right away. A very attractive girl I shot, refused to smile at first, she had perfectly lined-up pearly teeth, we’ve asked her to smile, and told her to come look at the pictures with us;

– You have a gorgeous smile! you should smile more often! like the whole time, come on.

she looked at me happily as if she was hearing something new, and said:

– you know what.. no one ever told me that before! thank you.

– “people think you already know that, I guess.” shockingly I replied.

It’s not an easy thing, to believe you’re beautiful takes so much time and effort, but it’s just unbelievable! she never heard it before? I think I have a new goal in my life. I’ve decided that moment, that I need to blurt out all the good things I see in people, all the beautiful features, the pretty hair, the brilliant mind, the rosy cheeks, the bright thinking, the bravery, the resilience, the patience, the sole beauty of a person! should be blurted out more often. And more importantly, if no one ever did, tell it to myself too.

Thank you!

Check the dictionary of obscure sorrows “Socha: The hidden Vulnerability of others”

6 thoughts on “But, I am not beautiful.

  • Reply Hala June 18, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    This is very sincere and has touched my heart. I believe everyone is beautiful in their own way; we just all need to believe it.

  • Reply Ahmad July 29, 2019 at 8:54 pm

    I understand where this is coming from, but at the same time i do feel like giving out compliments in jordan is considered a taboo!!! i seriously cant give out a nice word without a girl thinking i am into her or a man thinking i’m gay! so i just keep it to myself sometimes…

  • Reply Safa July 30, 2019 at 8:51 am

    I used to believe that this voice should come from inside, we need to have it with us all the time.. But putting it in a very heart touching way all together as you described it is something different! Thank you Jude for this.. Thank you so much.

  • Reply May November 4, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    Thanks for sharing Jude, and thanks for telling all those people exactly what you thought! The world would be a better place, if we were all just a little bit kinder! I remember feeling shy and a bit awkward when the brilliant photographer I hired for my wedding said something along the lines of “Oh what a beautiful smile you have!” (^_^)

  • Reply Reem March 27, 2020 at 9:22 pm

    Thank you Jude! This touched my heart.
    You’re truly a kind and inspiring person, the world needs more people like you.

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