Sometimes, I think I am ugly. Some days, I wake up, and I think my hair looks hideous. Some weeks, my skin is broken out, and I want to cry. Sometimes, I think I’m too fat to wear this blouse or these jeans. These are ugly thoughts, but they are thoughts that I live with every day.
This post isn’t meant to be a self-deprecating one, but a post about learning to see beauty within yourself when all you may feel is ugly. I have struggled with body issues since before I can remember. I was a chubby kid with glasses and a love for all things elastic waistband. In the fifth grade, my doctor told my parents that I was getting close to being overweight, and it might be the time to make some changes in our eating patterns.
So, the whole family, plus me, started eating healthier and by the time I was in middle school, a few pounds lighter and a growth spurt later, I was skinny. Unfortunately, although the pounds may have disappeared, the bullies and mean girls appeared. Even though it was the popular kids who were bullying me, I wanted to be one of them.
I wanted to have the straight hair, white teeth, and size zero Abercrombie jeans that they did. But with curly hair, crooked teeth, and and an average weight, I knew I could never be like them. Like every preteen, I felt ugly and awkward.
When I got to high school, I struggled with some pretty bad acne. I had braces. I didn’t exercise so, I had to watch what I ate. Once again, I envied the popular girls and their perfect skin, hair, and clothes. But by the time I was a senior, my braces were gone, my hair was manageable, and I had started exercising. For the first time in my life, I felt pretty.
And then there was a boy. A boy who lead me on the entire year, treated me like crap, and seemed to enjoy stringing me along. When I found out I wasn’t the only one he was playing this game with, I was devastated. I didn’t understand why he didn’t like me. What had I done wrong? Suddenly, I felt ugly, stupid, and heartbroken.
Then, college happened. To say that I had some adjustment issues moving away from my friends and family, would be an understatement. Freshman year, I was homesick, sad, and angry. I was 20 pounds heavier then I was when I graduated high school, and I felt so ugly and uncomfortable in my body. I didn’t want to be at college. I couldn’t make friends. I missed my friends and my parents. Looking back, this is what I would consider the “low point”.
It wasn’t until January 2011 that I put on some running shoes and hit the treadmill. I only made it .3 miles. In high school, I had run a few miles here and there, but I had never really pursued running. Now though, I was angry, and running was the perfect way to let out my emotions.
I trained for a 5K (3 mi) for four months, and ran it in May 2011. After I crossed the finish line, I knew was addicted, I wanted to go farther. In October 2011, I ran my first half marathon (13.1 mi). When I finished, I felt invincible. I had lost quite a bit of the weight I had put on since graduating high school, but for the first time it didn’t matter what I looked like because I was strong.
In October 2012, I ran my first full marathon (26.2 mi). It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. I cried when I crossed the finish line, but I walked away from that race with more then just a medal. Suddenly, I knew I could accomplish anything I put my mind to. The only thing that could hold me back was myself. I was comfortable in my own skin. I was invincible, and I felt beautiful.
Since October, I have lost my way in terms of my confidence. I can’t explain it, but some of that marathon confidence has slipped away. I ran a half marathon yesterday, and I didn’t feel the same awe that I have in the past. I didn’t have the time to train for it, and I ran slow. I’ve lost some of my runner confidence, and I don’t know how to get it back.
I guess, what I am trying to say in this post is that not everyone feels beautiful and amazing all the time. I certainly don’t. It is so easy to look at someone and think how good-looking they are and how easy their life must be, but it’s possible that the people that we idealize are the ones who think they are the ugliest.
In the United States, we are raised to think that beautiful is the most important thing a person can be. Sure, it’s great to be smart, but if you are beautiful, you’re set. However, all it takes is one look at the Dove Beauty Ads going around to realize that people, women especially, think that they are ugly.
78 percent of 17 year old girls in the Untied States are “unhappy with their bodies” (Source). That’s almost 80 percent. Why is this happening? Why are we raising young men and women that are starving themselves or killing themselves because they are too “fat” or too “ugly” to live.
I know that I write a lot about beauty on this blog, but I think that it’s important to remember that beauty does not come from a bottle. It’s so important that we teach people to see the beauty within themselves. Makeup is great, but confidence is something that you can’t dab on, you have to believe in yourself.
And for everyone who wakes up every day and thinks, I am ugly. You are not alone. Even though no one talks about it, there are millions of people that feel uncomfortable in their own skin, old people, young people, men, women, and me included.
However, we have to fight back against these thoughts. We have to stop being so hard on ourselves, and try to see the beauty that we possess both inside and out. You are special, and you are beautiful in your own way. Just because a magazine or a beauty blog is all about one type of look or one body type doesn’t make you any less beautiful.
This is a topic that is uncomfortable to write about because in the United States we never talk about it. Instead, we watch beautiful young women waste away in the pursuit of being thin or walk with their heads down because they hate what they see in the mirror.
I encourage every one of you to remind yourself that you are beautiful every day. Every time you pass by the mirror remind yourself. I am beautiful. I encourage you to find something, a hobby or a skill, that gives you the confidence that glows from within. Stand up straight, and stand up for yourself because if you don’t, who will?
Sometimes, I have to remind myself – you are worth it. Remember that. Wear it on your sleeve. Write it on the mirror. You are worth it. You are beautiful, and there is no one else in the world that can take your place.