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Mom Asks If She Was Wrong To Tell Insecure Teen Daughter She’s Just ‘Average-Looking’

Woman talking to a crying teenage girl.
Maskot/Getty Images

We’ve all found ourselves worried about our physical appearance every now and then.

From whether or not our hair looks too unkempt to whether or not people like our outfit, we know in the long run that these things won’t matter, but still devote an unnecessarily long amount of time worrying.

Some people’s insecurities about their looks, however, might stem not from what others might think about their appearance, but instead from what others have said about their appearance.

Making their anxiety all the more crippling.

The teenage daughter of Redditor Fuzzy_Future_2642 found herself the victim of ridicule and bullying from her classmates owing to her appearance.

When her daughter turned to her for help and advice, the original poster (OP) decided to be honest with her daughter, hoping a dose of reality might be just what she needed.

Unfortunately, her daughter’s reaction was not exactly what she was hoping it would be.

Having doubts about how she handled things, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where she asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for telling my 14-year-old daughter that she’s average-looking?”

The OP explained how her being honest with her daughter ended up backfiring:

“I (39 F[emale]) have a very insecure daughter (14F) who has a depressingly unhealthy obsession with her looks.”

“She often avoids mirrors and pictures because her mood instantly drains when she sees herself.”

“She constantly asks her father and me if we think she’s pretty and we always tell her the same thing, that she’s a beautiful girl inside and out.”

“As I understand how most teenage girls are with their body image as I was one at some point myself, my daughter’s vanity is not only becoming exhausting to those around her, but I fear it’s causing her to slowly lose herself.”

“Yesterday, I decided to sit her down to chat with her about this, to discuss what’s bothering her, and to see if she’s willing to visit a therapist.”

“She told me she didn’t want to talk about it, but as her mother, of course, I’m going to be worried about her, so I insisted.”

“She finally agreed.”

“A few minutes into this conversation, she asked exactly this, ‘Mom, I want you to be completely honest with me’.”

“‘That means no sugarcoating’.”

“‘The kids at my school think I’m ugly and say I look like a bird because I have a big nose’.”

“‘Do you really think I’m beautiful, or are you just lying?'”

“I’m an honest person, so I gave her the most honest answer I had.”

“I told her she was average-looking like most people in the world are, and that it’s not a bad thing to have an average appearance.”

“She immediately got up and left without saying a word and just went into her room for the rest of the night.”

“Today, she has been cold and distant, and I think I upset her, which wasn’t my intention at all.”


Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation, by declaring:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

The OP found little to no sympathy from the Reddit community, who all but unanimously agreed that the OP was, indeed, the a**hole for the way she spoke to her daughter.

Everyone agreed that the OP telling her daughter that she was “average looking” was the absolutely wrong thing to do, as it only exacerbated her body image problems and her bigger concern should have been that her daughter was being bullied by her classmates.

“Congratulations, you probably just created a negative core memory for your daughter.”

“She’s probably going to carry your words around with her for life.”

“YTA.”- jasperjamboree

“YTA clearly.”

“She is a teenager and these times are vital for self-esteem.”

“You essentially told her she was plain.”

“You lie to her even if she is.”

“This one is probably going to stick for life.”- GrogdaTheOrc


“You’re not an honest person.”

“For years you’ve told her she’s beautiful and now you’re saying ‘I was lying’.”

“‘You’re just average’.”

“She will now believe you’re still lying to cover that she is ugly.”

“YTA.”- StartigerJLN


“What is it with parents thinking it’s okay to tell their kids they’re not attractive?”

“Like we all know how a lot of relatives exaggerate how brilliant/charming/attractive we are.”

“We take it with a pinch of salt.”

“But if we ask, we’re asking you because we know we’ll get that answer.”

“We need affirmation.”

“You know she’s insecure, so why make her more insecure.”

“You are not a therapist, do not try to be.”

“Be a mum.”- Sloppypoopypoppy

“I barf daily reading about the ‘parenting’ skills of people.”

“How can people be so f*cking obtuse?”

“Why the hell do you have kids, if you aren’t going to be their biggest supporter?”

“There is always something beautiful about kids, especially your own.”

“Do you think they really want to be told that they are just mediocre and that’s ok because most people are?”

“She’s 14, kids go through a lot of changes before maturity.”

“Many kids who were super awkward as teens are knockouts ten years later.”

“You help them grow their confidence, not knock it down.”- 421Gardenwitch


“She’s showing serious MH signs.”

“Taking her to a psychiatrist should already be in the works… not you forcing a discussion you clearly don’t have the skills to navigate.”

“You just reinforced everything the bullies are saying to her.”- MarionBerryBelly


“You can’t possibly be so dense that you don’t understand that no amount of you saying you are being honest is going to make her believe you are really being totally honest.”

“She thinks you will automatically overrate her because you are her mom.”

“So, if your overrating calls her ‘average’, she now believes you think she is ugly and the kids at school are right.”- Signal_Wall_8445


“You just said you and her father always tell her she is beautiful inside and out.”

“Kudos to you for being an honest person, but this was not the right answer.”

“You had the right answer all along and should’ve told her the same thing, not confirmed her fears.”- superdoobiez


“You knew how she would react, she finally agreed to a therapist you told her that her fears are true (in her head).”- Ok_Job_9417


“Beauty is subjective.”

“You don’t destroy your child’s self-esteem.”

“Like Taylor Swift says ‘casually cruel in the name of being honest’.”- cjstarry30


“’I’m not the person to sugarcoat it’.”

“That’s your daughter & the person who should be hyping her up most is her mother.”

“You made her feel 10X worse than the kids at school already do.”- Brilliant-Opposite39

“Of course YTA.”

“‘I’m an honest person’ is a weird reason to sit a child down and essentially confirm, in her mind, that you are liars and she is as ugly as the other kids say she is.”

“Look. I get why people harp on ‘honesty’ I guess.”

“But this isn’t one of your girlfriends asking you for your honest opinion on whether she could be a supermodel.”

“It’s not even your kid asking if you think he’s smart enough to get into Yale.”

“This is your child asking if you think she’s beautiful while she’s being bullied for being ugly to the point where she can’t look in a mirror.”

“I’m not changing my mind about it.”- Shitsuri

“‘I sat down my daughter, who is insecure about her looks and clearly needs support and possibly therapy, and told her that even her own mother doesn’t think of her as beautiful, because I am willing to make my daughter feel worse about herself and me for the sake of honesty’.”

“I don’t know if I would still speak to my mother if she did that to me.”- grolbol


“Don’t even need to read the damn post.”

“What’s wrong with you?”

“That’s your kid, if your response isn’t ‘you’re the most beautiful person in the world to me and nothing could change that’ then you’re a failure and setting your kid up to hate themselves.”

“You set the tone for her self-esteem and you just crushed it.’

“Congrats.”- Fenris304

“Read the title of this post again and then see if you still have to ask.”

“YTA.”- skinamarinkphone

“It sounds like she may have body dysmorphic disorder.”

“That is NOT vanity.”

“Please get her to a therapist who specializes in such issues to have her evaluated.”- MissElphie

They say, “The truth hurts,” but the truth doesn’t need to hurt quite so much.

The fact that the OP’s intentions seemed to be driven more by her exhaustion from her daughter’s so-called “vanity” than by the fact that she was bullied by her fellow students seemed to affect her judgment, badly.

One can only hope that the OP might take a moment to reflect on her choice of words, and maybe find her daughter the help she needs.

Not to mention, alert her daughter’s school that she is being bullied.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.