Growing up, I’ve always felt insecure. I’ve always felt very self-conscious. I would look in the mirror and all I could feel was dissatisfaction.
I’ve always hated my face, my hair, and my body. I guess I wasted a pretty good amount of energy wishing away how I looked and covering up every part of me that I believed was flawed.
I don’t think it’s anybody’s fault, though. I guess growing up back then, I was surrounded with really messed up imagery of what a “pretty girl” should look like. Magazines and television shows spent a lot of time convincing us mestizas are pretty, but morena isn’t. Thin lips are okay, thick lips are too much. A skinny body is okay, but only if it isn’t too skinny. Acne isn’t normal, it’s just disgusting. And straight, rebonded hair is the real deal; wavy, frizzy hair is just plain ugly.
So there I was, an insecure teenager, trying so hard to look like one of the “pretty girls,” never really realizing that I was a pretty girl too, never really realizing the truth that, no matter how different we all look like, no matter how flawed and imperfect we are, we are ALL pretty girls.
If only I knew that back then, maybe I wouldn’t have called myself ugly every single day. Maybe I wouldn’t have looked at myself in the mirror and felt the excruciating need to change the way I looked. Maybe I wouldn’t have listened to strangers when they commented on my size, how thin I was, how my bones would show off. Instead, maybe I would be asking them to mind their own business and proudly showing them how much I love my body as is.
If only I saw myself then the way I see myself now, maybe I wouldn’t have believed some boy when he told me I looked like a cheap clown with my red lipstick on. Maybe I’d leave him without having to think twice and wouldn’t allow him to make me feel any worse than I already do.
If only I loved myself then the way I do now, maybe I wouldn’t have wasted my time comparing myself to every girl that sat beside me, and maybe I could’ve believed that we could both be beautiful and that it was never a competition. Maybe I would have celebrated myself more and appreciated myself as I am.
Because here’s our truth: We are ALL wonderfully and beautifully made. We were called beautiful and worthy even before we saw ourselves in the mirror. I wish I knew that 10 years ago, then maybe I’d pour more of my energy into loving myself, celebrating the way I look no matter my size, how my hair looks, or whatever color my skin is.