DEAR ABBY: I am a female experiencing what one might call "Ugly Duckling Syndrome." I was an awkward child and adolescent, and was teased and rejected by my peers -- especially boys. As I reached adulthood, I "blossomed" into a good-looking young woman -- not exactly a swan, but definitely easier on the eyes than I was.
I get a lot of attention from guys now, but no matter how many people tell me I'm beautiful, I still don't believe it. Inside, I'm still the same plain, unattractive girl I used to be. When people stare at me in public, the first thing I think is they're thinking how ugly I am.
Abby, my negative attitude is pushing people away. People don't really like being around me once they get to know me. (An acquaintance actually said to me, "You're one of the prettiest girls I know, but your attitude is ugly.")
What can I do to enhance my confidence without becoming conceited? -- NOT FEELING PRETTY IN N.J.
DEAR NOT FEELING PRETTY: The problem you have described is not unique. It is sometimes shared by individuals of both sexes who have had plastic surgery that made a considerable difference in their looks. It has less to do with a lack of confidence than with anger at those who failed to notice their inner beauty before.
My advice is to stop obsessing about yourself and concentrate on making the people around you feel better about themselves. Make an effort to be kind to those you encounter, speak well of others, and do something nice for someone else without regard to personal gain every day. If you do that, your insecurities will lessen and you will be a more attractive, less defensive person to be around.