The Ugly Beauty in Stank Face

I was a chubby kid in middle school. 

That was my role within my circle, and like an actor who gets typecast, I didn’t see how I could ever play another part. I fabricated excuses to skip swim lessons because I didn’t want other kids to see me with my shirt off. 

I thought I’d always be the chubby kid. 

My parents were big fans of Costco, which meant that if the apocalypse ever came knocking, I could live off of frozen pizzas, gummy bears, and soda for years.  

I told my friends and family I wanted to slim down. But, in Persian culture, moms display their affection by feeding you. And my friends knew that my fridge was always packed with goodies. I also had a Playstation, which meant my house was the gathering place for FIFA and Pizza. 

I pressed the issue with my mom, but at first, she thought it was a phase. Plus, she was convinced that it was just “baby fat,” and I would grow out of it. She reminded me that there were “starving children around the world,” anytime I didn’t finish my plate.

I knew I had to cut back on my portions and start exercising. If only I could get my friends to back me up on this, I was sure to succeed.

But, they didn’t really get why I wanted to lose weight. They had the metabolisms of elite athletes. They called me a party pooper. Why would I want to put an end to our pizza parties? That would be such a selfish thing to do. 

So they kept showing up at my house after school. Even when I didn’t invite them! Of course, my mom was happy to see them. She adored my friends and made sure the fridge and cupboards were stocked with everything teenage boys can dream of. 

With friends and family firmly against my goals, I began to question myself. Why was I so stuck on losing weight? Roly poly had a certain charm and my belly was an ideal place to rest my Playstation controller. Plus, I really loved Costco frozen pizzas.

Then one afternoon, we were hanging out in my room playing FIFA. One of my friends turned to me and yelled, “Yo DJ fat ass, put on some Eminem!”

It was a joke and on any other day, I would’ve laughed it off. 

But, it was the third or fourth fat joke that week

I was done playing the chubby kid. 

My damn “baby fat” was coming off, and I didn’t need anyone’s help or approval. 

I was going to get “totally jacked,” and drop an elbow on the naysayers just like my hero Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

I asked my dad to buy me a set of dumbbells.  

It was time to bump DMX in my boombox and crank out countless bicep curls. I had just rewatched Rambo and was determined to match Sylvester Stallone’s swoleness.

And then, my dad came home with a pink set of weights. 

Was he messing with me!? 

No time for excuses. I was too determined.

I still remember the first time I experienced the burning sensation in my muscles during a workout. It was liberating. I felt a sense of accomplishment. I pushed myself to failure and dropped the weights on my last rep.

I glared at my pink dumbbells. 

I busted out my very first “Stank Face.”

Like Russell Westbrook after a massive dunk. 

Instead of harboring resentment towards those who didn’t believe in me, I could harness my negative energy during workouts. 

I realized I could choose how I reacted when a friend lobbed a fat joke my way: 

  1. Get angry and retaliate with an insult. This might give me immediate satisfaction, but wouldn’t be a productive use of my energy in the long run.

  2. Do something about it. Instead of giving into my impulses to respond, I could store my energy and use it to work towards my goals.

The latter option would not only give me more determination when I was pumping iron, but it was a mindset shift that would make me a more productive person in all of my pursuits.

Any negative energy left after my workout? Bust out the Stank Face and it’d be gone.

That’s the ugly beauty in Stank Face.

Stank Face tells others that you keep your head down, put in the reps, and do what you say you’re going to do. It marks your commitment to results — not promises or cheap talk. You earn your Stank Face by overcoming adversity, delaying gratification, resisting temptation, and investing in yourself. But, the key is that it is earned not freely given or taken. 

Stank Face is the exclamation point on your triumphant story.

Before Giannis Antetokounmpo was the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, he was a skinny kid who couldn’t dribble. He was born in Greece, yet he was denied basic rights enjoyed by other citizens because his parents were African immigrants. He knew that at any moment he could be deported to Nigeria, a country he had never visited. 

He didn’t let any of this get inside his head. He persevered.

Today, he’s an unstoppable force and isn’t afraid to display his Stank Face after he demolishes the rim. A true act of defiance. 

Over the years, I’ve actively worked on my ability to view critics and doubters as a positive. Instead of letting people get inside my head and magnify my insecurities, I store the negative energy and tap into it when I need an edge. This has been one of the keys to my sales success. 

My days are filled with rejection: 

  • Prospects say no. 
  • The product team rejects my feature requests.
  • Candidates turn down my job offers.

This can be soul-crushing if you don’t have the right mindset. But, thankfully, I’ve gone through extensive training. My journey from the chubby kid to the guy from whom friends sought fitness advice, taught me that there’s only one thing you can do with rejection: use it as motivation.

It felt unnatural to do this when I was the plump kid in middle school. It was easier to get angry and strike back when someone hit me with a fat joke. But, that left me deflated. Like my story was already written by someone who specialized in tragic endings. 

I always recognized the potency of negative energy. But, it wasn’t until that day in my basement that I decided to make it work for me.

So consider it a gift next time someone doubts your ability to get the job done.

They’re giving you the fuel you need to achieve your loftiest goals. Use it to race past the finish line and flash your Stank Face.

Because Stank Face is the most beautiful face of all.