“Beautiful” Is My Biggest Insecurity

You’re beautiful.

That makes me so uncomfortable.

Whatever variation of it –hot, sexy, gorgeous, etc.

We throw it around at everyone -our friends, family, even strangers. Magazines like to constantly remind us of this.

You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful. Don’t you know it?

Growing up in a culture that idealized light skin –or fair skinas they call it, impacts you for life.

But fair skin was never fair.

Even as a child, whiter skin meant you were more beautiful, more worthy, more deserving of love.

so me with my oily hair
me with my dry hands marked like cray
me with my dark skin.

eight years old
with an accent,
in urban Boston,
surrounded by beautiful little white girls
with their freckles
with their silky, colored hair
and rosebud lips.

how could I ever have called myself “beautiful”?

and when you’re told you’re ugly.
not worthy of a second glance.
you learn to never rely on beauty,
to never add it to your vocabulary.

I’ve been good at distracting others from me since I was a child.

look at me -straight As and a scholarship to a prestigious school
look at me -running this club, doing good for the world
look at me -funny, clever, confident, everyone’s friend
look at me but don’t look at me
look at me but not my face.

Because when you grow up feeling ugly,
it’s a scar that colors the rest of your life and relationships
it’s an uninvited guest into all your thoughts.

That same thought always:

Maybe if I was a pretty girl, this boy would like me and I wouldn’t have to go through this pain.

now at 22
a good job
great friends
a little trail of triumphs to be proud of
and I am still
the eight year old girl
at the playground,
tracing my face in the mirror
of my pencil box,
wondering what it would be like
to feel beautiful.

and despite how much I’ve grown,
that will probably
go away.

But that’s ok.

I’ve come to terms with never feeling that way about myself physically.

Because “beautiful” extends beyond the naked, biased eyes of our society.

It’s how you make others feel around you,
it’s about warmth,
your laugh,
your heart.

You’re beautiful.

I still don’t know how to react when someone says this to me.
And this weakness is not humble or brave.
it’s something i’m working on.
for now, this is me
and that’s all I got.

A single golf clap? Or a long standing ovation?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.