In this counseling answer:
Focus on your positive attributes such as maybe your smile, or your eyes, or your facial structure, and begin to look at yourself as a beautiful creation that Allah (swt) has made. Make a list of your good and beautiful aspects physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. Begin to walk in that light of beauty and start to change who you perceive yourself to be (the one who is not as beautiful).
As-Salamu ‘Alaikum sister,
Thank you for writing. I am so sorry to hear what you have been going through. It must be difficult, but I am happy to hear that you report your marriage as basically happy.
First, I would like to address your statement “there’s something wrong with me and I wonder whether it’s some kind of mental disorder.” Sister, based on what you wrote, I do not feel there is anything wrong with you psychologically in terms of a mental disorder. However, it is clear that you are suffering from very low self-esteem.
Sister, please look at your following statements: “ I noticed that my husband felt ashamed being with me because I’m not that beautiful woman”; “Before our marriage, I informed him about my look and he accepted it saying that beauty doesn’t last long..”; “I do realize that I’m not beautiful enough,…”;
I ask you to look at these statements, in sha’ Allah, because you have not said one positive thing about yourself! I am wondering who convinced you that you are not beautiful. I am also wondering if you realize that what is “beautiful” to one person may not be beautiful to another. Being beautiful, sister, comes from within; it comes from self-confidence and from a sense of appreciation for what Allah (swt) has created – you!
It is obligatory for us to believe that all of Allah’s creation is beautiful because Allah (swt), the Khaaliq (Creator) does not create anything except with beauty and perfection, which is why He says to mankind:
“[And] who created seven heavens in layers. You do not see in the creation of the Most Merciful any inconsistency. So return [your] vision [to the sky]; do you see any breaks? Then return [your] vision twice again. [Your] vision will return to you humbled while it is fatigued.” (67: 3-4)
In Islam, beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder. Beauty is in the whole of creation, because Allah (swt) – the One free of all imperfections – is the one responsible for it. And as Allah says:
“And your Lord creates what He wills and chooses; not for them was the choice. Exalted is Allah and high above what they associate with Him.” (28:68)
Sister, when you display self-confidence with your body language, such as a bright smile, standing up straight, and carrying yourself with appreciation for who you are, it magnifies one’s attractiveness. Oprah interviewed models and stated “The most frequent comment I heard from the women interviewed was that beauty is about confidence”, and “I learned pretty quickly that success as a model wasn’t about being the prettiest (everyone was) or about being perfect (no one was). It was about how you carried yourself and how self-assured you appeared. So, it is for all women at any age. Holding your head up high with poise and self-confidence is probably the number one quality that women say leads to feeling and looking beautiful at any age.”
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By telling your husband before your marriage I am not beautiful, or “informing him about your look” has only set up a mental platform from which you both appear to be functioning from. You did not even give him a chance to determine on his own if he thought you were beautiful! You made that choice for him and you have continued to perpetuate its existence both verbally and through body language that you “are not beautiful”.
I suggest you focus on your positive attributes such as maybe your smile, or your eyes, or your facial structure, and begin to look at yourself as a beautiful creation that Allah (swt) has made. Make a list of your good and beautiful aspects physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. Begin to walk in that light of beauty and start to change who you perceive yourself to be (the one who is not as beautiful). When you master the art of loving yourself and walking with confidence and self-appreciation, others will naturally pick up on your energy and feel and see the beauty that is truly yours alone. Also, keep working out and caring for yourself as a woman; it is so healthy!
You stated your husband becomes happy and talkative when he is conversing with your cousins, and you feel it is because they are beautiful. I am willing to bet, sister, that it is because they are upbeat, confident, and spark enjoyable conversation. In fact, I would not be surprised if, in fact, they were very average looking. It is the way we present ourselves, which, in turn, helps form others’ ideas about our attractiveness, not only physically but socially as well.
The next time you observe women who you feel are beautiful, I ask you not to focus on their looks, but examine how they carry themselves, how they engage others, how they smile, as well as how they present themselves to the world as Muslimahs.
Our goal as Muslims is not to be models, or to be the most beautiful, the richest, or the most famous, but it is to be humble in our graciousness, confident in ourselves as Allah’s creation, and that Allah (swt) made us just the way we should be. I am willing to bet sister that you are beautiful; you have just been convinced somehow that you are not. Start carrying yourself as if you are the most beautiful, loving person, and I bet you will begin to see yourself in a different light, in sha’ Allah.
Regarding your husband’s female assistant, there is danger in being alone with someone of the opposite sex and should be avoided. As your husband is a married Muslim, he should not be driving to and from work with his assistant, nor spending alone time with her. Additionally, this makes you uncomfortable.
I would sit down with him and discuss how this makes you feel and why. Please sister, I suggest you leave out your feelings concerning her looks as it is irrelevant and will only make you appear insecure, and your discussion will not be taken as serious. If you approach him from an Islamic perspective, in sha’ Allah, he will be open to discussing how you feel, and he will guard your feelings and stop spending time alone with her, in sha’ Allah.
In the meantime dear sister, stay close to Allah (swt), make du’aa’, read Qur’an for guidance and building up as a strong, pious, beautiful Muslimah who you are. Also, as suggested, in sha’ Allah, sister, please take the steps above to increase your self-esteem, confidence, and feelings of beauty. I know you are beautiful! You just have to know it, see it, and embrace it – and walk in it.
Please let us know how you are doing. You are in our prayers.
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