I said yesterday that when my friend told me I wasn't ugly, I didn't believe her. I run into this same issue with my girls all the time.
It doesn't matter how often you tell them that they are beautiful, they just know they aren't.
Some of you may be wondering about objective beauty standards here, and yes, a lot of them are unequivocally pretty. Some of them might be using "ugly" as code for "fat", because "fat" hurts too much to say (I have done that), but then a lot of them say "fat" also. The fact that they have doctors and nurses telling them that they are not fat and that it would be dangerous for them to lose weight does not matter.
(Actually, I think they do know on one level that the doctor is right, but there are all of the other levels interfering.)
This is assuming I know what they look like. Many of the accounts are secret accounts for venting, so the profile picture is not theirs. Actually, a big step forward for one girl after treatment was changing her profile picture to her, and I knew it was a big step when it happened. That was great.
With the others, sometimes they will post a picture of clothing, and so you won't see the face but you get an idea of the body. Sometimes they will leave a selfie up for ten minutes and then delete. This desire to be known and connect, with the fear of being known and identified, has its own issues and workarounds. When I do get to see them, they usually look good.
This is important, because I only pay honest compliments. I don't always know what I'm doing, but the big rule I have, and I feel strongly about it, is that I don't lie. I assume that even well-intentioned lies will get figured out, and trust is really hard to come by, so I can't afford to lie. I know there have been times when that mattered.
Here is one honest compliment that I can usually give. Most of them are really kind and supportive. They will do a lot to encourage and comfort and build up everyone else. They believe everyone else deserves it. They don't believe it about themselves.
One thing that I realized fairly early on is that I want to tell them that they can have good futures. If they want love or good careers or happiness - probably all of the above - I want to tell them that's possible. It can be hard to tell them they will find love when I never found it. I can see now where I didn't let myself find it, but they could do the same thing. I don't want to reinforce that.
So this is where we get to the incoherent part. They also tell me that I am beautiful, while not believing they are also beautiful.
Okay, beauty is subjective, they like me as a person which can color it, but then if I am saying that I am not beautiful, contradicting them, but also asking them to believe that they are beautiful, and they should listen to me because... I just end up sputtering.
Worse than that, I have had some tell me that I am not fat. I do have real pictures up, and I am objectively fat. I get how that happens too. They have it that "fat" is a bad word, and you wouldn't use it on anyone good. I appreciate that they appreciate my goodness, but words mean things! If we change what words mean, communication becomes very difficult, so I would be against that in general. If the way we change the words services a worldview where everyone thinks you are wonderful except for bullies and yourself, no, that's just not good.
The change I wish to see in the world is people being able to enjoy their identities. I have to be able to do that for myself. I have to be able to accept compliments, and believe them, and be aware of the connotations of words but also without forgetting the denotations.
The most radical thing I do is like myself. See how true that becomes?