At eighteen years old, it is obvious that I have a vast knowledge of life and am incredibly worldly and sophisticated. Also, I can point to Ohio on a map of the United States, so I am better at geography than most: another testament to my intelligence. Read this article and then maybe adhere to it, or at least try to, because I feel as though this negative self image is a widely felt phenomena that should be halted. Alas, here is some advice from your favorite know-nothing-at-all.
1. Accept that you will, more or less, look the way you look for your entire life (unless you become surgically enhanced).
Ever since I was a wee girl, I have been incredibly fair skinned. That is to say, sometimes I would be taking notes in class and accidentally start writing on myself, totally thrown that my arm was the same hue as my notebook paper. Growing up, the things I heard were
“can you even get a tan?”
“do we need to pick up sunblock for you to put on for the walk from the car to the interior of publix?”
“why are you wearing a turtleneck to the beach?”
My answers, respectively, were no, SPF 80 please, and because I will get grounded if I come home with a sunburn. Once I even got an Instagram comment that actually just read “OMG you are soooo white!!” followed by like 4 red heart emojis (???). But people also would say really nice things, like, “Your ambiguous European blend is so beautiful”, or “You’re so lucky you can wear that weird off-orange hue of lipstick without looking like a cheap clown hooker”. All in all, however, I have decided that I am something of a strange, maybe even kind of beautiful, anomaly here in South Florida, where I reside. Also, I can pull off pastels pretty well. I’ll never have a tan, into my adult life or ever, and that is A-OK.
2. Wanting to change the way you look is totally okay, as well.
As aforementioned, changing your outer appearance, being surgically enhanced for instance, is fine. If you think a C-cup or a rounder nose will make you happy, absolutely go for it. If you want to lose 13 pounds, be my guest. Being healthy and strong will, in turn, make you feel confident and confident is beautiful. Just don’t lose sight of who you are on the inside, address the deeper issues that you may be feeling, and try your best not to judge others or project these aesthetic wishes onto them (“Jenna, you would look über hot if you lost 6 pounds”… this is not so cool, let Jenna decide on her own.)
3. Sometimes, things we find really obnoxious or undesirable about ourselves are really awesome to someone else.
When I was in high school (which was like soooo 7 months ago) I had this boyfriend who would always tell me how much he loved my arms. He was a nice kid, and for a first relationship, it was an awesome practice run. He cheated on me and I dumped him. It was super dramatic and I cried a lot. Maybe I should’ve picked up on the incompatibility when his favorite thing about me was my arms..? Haha, who am I kidding? Obviously he was in love. Okay enough! Stop asking about it! Jeez! Anyway, I had always hated my arms. They were not the slender and svelte kind you would find on Candice Swanepoel, but they also weren’t muscular and awe-inspiring like Hope Solo’s. They are kind of flabby and something about my elbow joints make them crack at odd times. Regardless, Gaston* loved them! And so now I think twice before I bash my own laugh or my uneven boobs or anything else that seem like such a huge deal to me. In the long run, they probably aren’t.
(*his name isn’t Gaston, that’s just a name change so if he ever reads this, he’s thrown off. C’mon, what do you think this is, a Disney movie?)
4. Rejection will be a part of your life at some point or another, and you are not alone. Also, you are awesome and it is okay to fail.
Brace yourself; this is another high school reminiscing moment.
In the 10th grade, I auditioned for a play at the community local theater. I had a Human Geography class with a couple girls who were extremely talented and always got leads, and they convinced me to try out. The audition involved lots of choreographed dancing and a mandatory 16-bar singing piece. On the singing, I was maybe a 5 out of 10, so not too terrible, but it’s not like I’m Susan Boyle or something. The dancing though…horrific. The way I danced, I looked like my feet didn’t belong on my body. I was like a botched podiatry experiment, except I had never had surgery and to quote Lady Gaga, baby I was (unfortunately) born this way. Anyway, after the choreographer taught the combination, we had to do it in groups of 6 in front of a panel of 3 directors/choreographers. Needless to say, there was a moment where I just completely forgot everything and I did a strange running man with improvised arm gestures that were vaguely inappropriate. The girls who had convinced me to go in the first place, were both in my group, god bless, and it make it even more awful and embarrassing. The cast list was uploaded about a week later and, shocker, I was not on it. Devastated, but not surprised, I accepted my defeat. But then, a few days later, the director emailed me something along these lines:
The more talented girl we initially chose had to drop out because she’s going to preform for a sheik or czar or something equally impressive, so if you wish to play this extremely minor part with a total of 1 line, you’re welcome to it. We will keep you out of the dance numbers.
Infinitely more talented than you will ever hope to be,
Mr. Director Man
I was in awe! Me? The girl with the rhythm of a deaf cow got a part?! I was so proud, even if it was only one line, because I had gone through with my traumatizing audition, fearless, like a lioness (with terrible coordination and pathetic motor skills!).
Moral of the story: don’t give up trying for fear of rejection—do it anyway because you may get to replace someone who is allegedly more talented than you! Also, you’re probably a much better dancer than I am.
This about sums up what I have learned in 18 years of glorious, pizza eating, average-grade-making years! I hope this article either made you giggle, feel more at ease with yourself, or both. Imagine what deep and intellectual material I’ll have at 21! Yipee!