I was a pudgy kid in my early teens. I saw myself as not just pudgy but fat, and unattractive besides. Consequently, I tended to dress, as one "friend" in high school put it, like a baked potato: drab. Self-confidence was NOT my middle name...
A friend from college took the picture below of me our senior year (I know, I look about 12, but I was actually 21) and she found it and sent it to me around 10 years ago. You tell me: is this girl fat and homely?
How cute was I???" And fat?? Not by any stretch of the imagination. And it's not just that this picture happens to be particularly flattering; here's another one, from my college graduation:
But it's not just from the vantage of 20 or 30 years later that I can say I was cute then. Somewhere along the way from 1984 to today, I embraced myself. (And before you ask, I have no magic secret to share on how. I'm sure 8 years of therapy helped.) But at some point, I realized that I like my face: as is, no makeup, just me. And I mean I like it NOW, a few wrinkles and all, not just as it was 30 years ago. I also like my hair, grey hairs and all. And I even like my body, including the oversized boobs I inherited from my grandmother Crook. (And truly, I'm lucky - I'm 5 foot 6; she was 4 foot 11 something at her absolute tallest, and hers were just as big as mine...) I would like to continue to lose weight for my health, but it's not about thinking I'm fat and ugly anymore.
I wish I could go back and tell my teenaged self that you don't have to look like a supermodel to be beautiful. And how did we let the media co-opt the word beautiful and use it for headlines like "50 Most Beautiful People!" As if there were a limited supply of beauty, and it's relative, so only the top 1% or something qualify? Hogwash. We are ALL beautiful one way or another: God doesn't make ugly. We just have to find a way to embrace our own unique beauty and find ways to let it shine.
Alas, I cannot go back and tell my teenaged self that, and I don't know if she could hear it if I did. But I'll settle for this: if you're reading this, you are beautiful. Own it, cultivate it, revel in it, embrace it.