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Salma Hayak’s Ugly Betty applauded by Hey U.G.L.Y.


It’s hard to dispute that Mexican actress Salma Hayek appears to be the perfect physical package. But the brunette star has an important message: true beauty comes from the inside. That message is being applauded by Hey U.G.L.Y., the nonprofit organization that helps teens with self-esteem issues.

According to Hayak, “In my world, you have to be so beautiful, so skinny, so famous -- and I don’t believe you really have to be any of those things. You simply have to be who you are. You’re not more important, smarter, or prettier because you wear a designer dress.”

It’s a lesson Hayek feels so strongly about that she is now producing it for the small screen with the debut of “Ugly Betty” on ABC. The show tells the story of Betty Suarez, a young woman trying to fulfill her dream of a career in the publishing world of high fashion. Betty has one problem: she’s not thin and she is not beautiful. But is that really a barrier to her success? Betty, played by Hispanic actress America Ferrera, sets out to prove that it is not. Using intelligence, kindness and hard work Betty finds a way to achieve her goals.

“It’s so reassuring to have a woman heroin who triumphs with more than just what she has on the outside ... who has more to offer the world than just a pretty picture,” says Ferrera, the 22-year-old star of “Real Women Have Curves” and “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, on a recent Oprah show. ”To me, the tragedy about this whole image-obsessed society is that young girls get so caught up in just achieving that they forget to realize that they have so much more to offer the world"

“I felt Ugly Betty many, many, many times,” Hayak revealed on Oprah. “You know I’m very short so when I was growing up people made fun of me as if it was like a birth defect, a deformity ... like I belonged in a circus or something. I think we all have something that people point out to you especially when you are growing up when you’re a kid and then you point it out to yourself nonstop.”

“It is important to remember that many celebrities have dealt with issues of low self-esteem just like Hayak and Ferrera,” said Hey U.G.L.Y.’s founder, Betty Hoeffner, who is now being called the original ’U.G.L.Y. Betty.’ “That’s why we put quotes from celebrities who have confronted low self-esteem on our website. Teens find it inspirational and it helps them feel that they are not alone. One teen, who was being teased about her weight by classmates, wrote to us saying the celebrity quotes on our site helped her feel ’cool’ about who she was.”

“All of us have felt like Ugly Betty’s in our life and we at Hey U.G.L.Y. are dedicated to helping teens focus on their inner qualities and strengths,” said Hoeffner. Since 2003, she has been president of Hey U.G.L.Y. (acronym for Unique, Gifted, Lovable YOU!), whose mission is to empower teens with self-esteem building tools. (Check out They have just finished the nation’s first 16-week self-esteem building curriculum. It is called ’eM-POWER’ and they are making it available to junior high and high schools; Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts; and Boys & Girls Clubs across the country, for free.

“It’s time for teens and young women to start focusing on their inner qualities and strengths,” said Ferrera. “I think Hispanic women are beautiful with their curves. I’m not sure who feels that way in Hollywood. If they think that, they just don’t bother with you. You just don’t get the role and you never know why. That’s still better than physically harming yourself and becoming unhealthy just to star in a movie.”

Hey U.G.L.Y. agrees with Ferrera’s philosophy, just look at where she is now!

Written by: Lisa Barron a freelance journalist and Chicago based reporter for People magazine. Lisa is currently working on a book about Iraq, where she spent 14 months reporting on the war for CBS Radio


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