I'm Not Pretty Because I Don't Look Like You
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I'm Not Pretty Because I Don't Look Like You

But I just want to fit in.

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I'm Not Pretty Because I Don't Look Like You
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Growing up, I was carefree and free-spirited. Prone to embarrassing myself just to get a laugh out of others. Wild as my lion's mane hair. Looking back on it now, I envy my younger self. Nothing could get me down. I didn't care what anyone else thought. If people stared, so what? I would give them a show. If people talked, who cared? I would give them something to talk about. Never in my life have I ever felt so free, and ultimately, so happy.

So when did that all change?

"You're not pretty."

The words rolled off her tongue effortlessly. Her tone conveyed that her claim was the most obvious fact in the world, and I was blind to see it.

"And you're not a nice person," my 12-year-old self fired back.

She frowned and tried to explain, "You could be, though. You're not pretty... because you don't look like me... or like anyone else."

Before I could ask her what the hell she meant, she skipped away and happily giggled to her minion posse of middle school wannabes, all donning the same denim skirt paired with some Abercrombie graphic tee, flip-flops, and the classic sailor's knot bracelet (only to parade around that their matching bracelets symbolize their beach trip together to Ocean City last summer).

You don't look like me... or like anyone else.

So was she referring to the fact that I didn't have straight blonde hair? Or was it my tomboy clothes that set me apart? Or was it the fact that I was darker than her after a summer of tanning? Or was it because I had brown eyes and not blue ones? My big nose? Did I smell weird? Did everyone think so? Was I really all that different from everyone else? Was it that obvious?

For the first time in my life, I felt insecure. I felt ugly and embarrassed to be in my own body. At the time, I didn't even feel like this girl attacked me. I didn't even feel bullied. I felt like, until this moment, I had been missing out on the most certain truth. I felt stupid. I felt alone. When I looked in the mirror, I didn't see myself. I saw an outcast.

So I decided to do something about it. I decided to conform.

I spoke with a filter. I only talked about things that were "normal." I capped my imagination in fear of spewing something that someone else would consider weird, gross or crazy. I fell into that Abercrombie phase. I begged my mom to teach me how to use a straightener. And I also stole her makeup when she wasn't looking.

And that was my life. I wanted to be normal, to fit in -- to be like everybody else. So I did whatever I could to do just that.

It wasn't until my senior year of high school that I realized -- even if I did fit in and even if I was finally "pretty," I wasn't being myself. What makes you beautiful isn't how you're like everyone else; it's what makes you stand out. Beauty is in the individual -- in all the things that make you you.

Now, granted, I am still inseparable from my straightener. I love getting dressed up and playing with my makeup. I may not be exactly the same as that girl wearing camo cargo pants and running around outside for hours, but I live my life knowing that beauty is defined by how you feel in your own body. Feeling beautiful means feeling good in your own skin. That gratification will never come from what other people say or think. It comes from within. It's about all loving yourself -- body, mind and soul. And once you realize that simple definition, you'll go further than you have before. All that love and confidence merits a sense of empowerment that will guide you to take on the world.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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