The Ugly Duckling is a story that has gone down in history and has become part of our vocabulary. We use the phrase “ugly duckling” in reference to many things. It’s become a definition in its own right. We may say that someone is an ugly duckling, knowing that they may be awkward now, but they’ll grow out of it. There’s more to the story of The Ugly Duckling than a cliché phrase that we all keep repeating.
One of the prominent parts of the story is how others treated the ugly duckling. He was told he was ugly. He was teased. The other animals bullied him. They told him he was ugly. They told him he was too big. They told him he wasn’t graceful. Animals made fun of him repeatedly.
The ugly duckling began to believe their words. He believed everything. He saw himself as ugly. He saw himself as so ugly that he ran away from his home. He went and lived out in the wild with no one to protect him. He lived off the land. He did what he could. He was on his own. This was all because of words.
The words uttered to this duckling were ugly.
In the south, some people say, “You’re being ugly,” to a child, or an adult, who is misbehaving and basically being a rude and terrible example of a person. The phrase is rather apt. People often look down upon Southern sayings, but this one is a good one. If you are mistreating another person, you are being ugly. Physical beauty is not where the world ends and begins. There is such a thing as beauty of personality and spirit.
If you’re making a person think less of themselves because of what you’re saying to them, your words are ugly and you’re being ugly.
If only this duckling could have realized that these other animals were the ones who were ugly, then maybe he wouldn’t have had such a hard time, but he had nothing to compare it to because these animals had been ugly to him since he was born.
It wasn’t the duckling who was ugly; the words and insults hurled at this duckling were ugly.