When I was twelve, I developed my first real crush on a boy. I had other little kid crushes before, but this one was the first to hit me like a big yellow school bus. (Cookie for you if you get the reference) It was the first time I had become aware of my feelings and, as a result, attempted to act upon them whenever he was near. As a result, I wound up humiliating myself and before long the majority of my middle school knew as well as the boy. His reaction? To send me hurtful messages online as well as inform me that I was considered by everyone, ‘the ugliest girl in school.’ To add insult to injury, he bragged about telling me this to kids in our class the next day.
As one can imagine, these word hurt me a great deal. Not only did I cry myself to sleep that night, I would stare at myself in the mirror and believe it. I would believe that I was indeed the ugliest girl you can meet. As a kid, I never quite fit in. Not only because even then I was quiet, but also because I was not as physically attractive as any other girl. While many girls at that time already wore makeup, tight clothes, were developed, and had good skin, I stuck out immensely. I always wore my hair in a ponytail, my acne was so bad I had to wear my hair in bangs, I wore baggy clothes, I have always had a bad overbite, and I was as thin as a stick. I also was more pale-skinned in a school where no one else was, which was something I did not know I had to be insecure about until middle school.
Kids can be mean, yes, but I was positive that this boy had not said it just to be mean. I believed it, simply because many kids had severely bullied me and made sure to point out all the flaws I mentioned above.
I hated the girl in the mirror for long after this. I always questioned why I could not just look like other girls. Why my face couldn’t be clearer, why my teeth could not be straighter and whiter, why my hair was so out of control, why I couldn’t have a body like other girls, and why I always had to stand out in a crowd of girls.
Years passed. I started getting thicker out of no where. My acne, while still existing today, cleared up more. My hair is still a knotty tangly mess, yet I can comfortably wear it down. I became more comfortable with my teeth, as it is just a part of who I am. Most people have accepted me for me and the bullying has subsided.
And yet when I look in the mirror, I still don’t like who I see.
And why is that? Because of a mean comment some bully made seven years ago? Maybe.
Because I see other girls and wish to look more like them? Maybe.
Because I allow the rude comments I still receive affect me? Maybe.
Because society’s perception of beauty and what a woman should look like has corrupted my mind and thus made me believe that I should look a certain way? There you go.
Think about it, if we were not conditioned to believe we had to look a certain way, would we care about our appearance?
I know I would not care about my acne, my teeth, my hair, or my weight. It’s all imperfect, but it’s who I am. I believe I can still be beautiful even with all these physical flaws. Yet because of what I see other girls looking like, or striving to look like, and because of the comments I still receive, when I look at myself all I see is a pimply-faced, messy-haired girl with an overbite. Most recently, I have started getting shit about my weight.
Comments I receive:
-Have you ever thought about getting braces?
-Ew what happened to your face?
-You used to be so skinny, what happened to you?
-Did you let yourself go because you broke up with your boyfriend?
-You should do something about those pimples.
And so forth.
So, in the simplest terms, we can conclude that no one believes they are ugly. They are taught to believe that they are ugly.
I want to believe that I am pretty. I want to look past my physical flaws. I want to quit feeling like I am the only girl who looks as imperfect as I do. I want to be able to feel comfortable I my own body. I want to believe a guy when he calls me beautiful. Most importantly, I want to believe that I am beautiful.
Yet with images of what we are expected to look like, for both men and women, that is nearly impossible. I know that I am not the only one who feels this way.
It’s not just Hollywood, magazines, and commercials enforcing this artificial image of beauty, either. It’s little comments made by people we face in our every day lives that influence our perception of ourselves. Little comments such as that one by the boy from middle school about me being ugly, to a woman in a clothing store commenting on my weight just because I am not a size two, to a friend making a rude comment about me letting myself go due to something that happened months ago is enough to mess with someone’s brain. Even pointing out someones flaws such as pimples, overbites, and so on when it is not necessary is a form of insulting someone else’s appearance. You may think you are helping when you tell them to go use some acne cream or go get their teeth fixed, but in reality you are just bring attention to something they are already aware of and probably insecure about. You don’t even know if they are trying to take care of it or if it’s something they can’t help.
Not everyone can have straight teeth. Not everyone can be the same weight. Not everyone can have clear skin. Not everyone can have flawless hair. Yet everyone could still believe that person they see in the mirror is beautiful if they view the person through their own eyes as opposed to the eyes that society wants them to look through.
So stop perceiving yourself as ugly because of a few flaws. Realize that you are beautiful and having flaws are what make you even more beautiful. You are unique.
You are you, and that’s okay.