I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, I was fortunate enough to grow up awkward. I had (have) a lisp, rainbow braces and the inability to properly fix my naturally frizzy hair. Whenever all the girls of the world were called to a national conference and taught how to apply makeup and use a straightener…I missed the memo. It was sort of like the actual princess diaries except no one swept in on my 16th birthday and surprised me with a kingdom and a makeover (#StillWaiting). I was never popular, I was gawky, I was awkward and until roughly my junior year of high school I never felt comfortable in my own skin.
The narrative of my lack of beauty pageant titles isn’t part of a desperate effort to make you feel sorry for me. I said I was fortunate enough to grow up awkward remember?! I’ll always remember I was on a flight to St.Thomas for my 16th birthday when the woman (and her husband) sitting next to me on the plane asked me if I was a model. I’m pretty sure I looked to see if she was talking to someone beside me despite the fact that I was in the window seat. I was COMPLETELY taken aback (extremely flattered but more shocked than you can imagine). I actually questioned whether or not the middle aged couple beside me was trying to make fun of me (because most forty year olds make fun of teenagers on planes in their free time).
Up until that point I’d spent my whole life seeking appraisal for my looks. I looked at the “pretty girls” in my junior high classes and wondered what I could do to be more like them and less like myself.What I didn’t realize was the people in my life saw more in me than physical beauty (thankfully because in all honesty I was pretty awkward looking). These people looked at me and I didn’t see “pretty green eyes” but the girl behind them with dreams and fears and silly quirks.
As I grew older I learned to “mask” my awkwardness. I distinctly remember a time my sophomore year of college watching some stupid action movie as some stupid frat boy caressed my leg and offered up dull conversation, I somehow brought up mermaids to which he scoffed in response “mermaids aren’t real”. It dawned on me that the only thing action-movie-watching-leg-groping-mermaid-hating-frat-star knew about me was that I liked pineapple on my cheese pizza, oh, and maybe that I was mildly (obsessively) addicted to orange tinted spray tans as well (it would have been tough to miss that one). My entire childhood I’d been surrounded by people who liked (or didn’t like) me for my quirky sense of humor, my peppy personality, my love for all things whimsical and girly, it had never occurred to me that I’d become just another pretty face in a sea of sorority girls.
As an awkward adolescent so many girls face the challenge of measuring themselves up to the beauty standards set by the airbrushed faces in magazines, the result is obvious, we crave external reassurance on our outward appearance. It’s easy to become lost in this stage. After a life time of waiting to be told “You’re beautiful”, “You’re skinny”, “You’re hot”, it can become addicting to seek such validation when it is finally openly given. Flattery is so easily equated with external lust, but, I (you) need more than that.
I think I’ve finally reached a point in which beauty has become so superficial. It’s not that I don’t want to be told I’m beautiful (that would be a straight up lie, I do), but to be beautiful, at age 22 is so easy. Beauty is fleeting. I want someone who doesn’t look at me as if I am a piece of meat to be ravaged but devours my soul. I want someone who sees me for the troubled, broken, flawed human being I am and doesn’t want me to cover up my scars. I want someone who looks into my eyes and doesn’t notice their beauty because he is so distracted by the story they tell.