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For The Girls Who Didn't Grow Up Feeling Pretty

Originally published on Thought Catalog.

I know it hurts you to think back to those days that you always wished would just be over. I know you have spent so many years of your life wishing to be anyone else, anywhere else. You wanted so badly to grow up and be an adult because the pain of adolescence was always too much for you to bear. You have always been reminded that you are just a little too much.

Maybe they told you that you were too fat or too thin. Or that your hair was too curly or too plain. Maybe your teeth were too crooked, or your gap was too large. Maybe your style was too different from what the rest of your peers were wearing, so you were automatically seen as too “weird” to be their friend. Or maybe, you were told you were just too ugly. Maybe no matter how much you changed yourself, you were still never enough for them.

I need you to know that you have always been and will always be enough.

Every day, you have woken up and faced a world that did not always want to face you. You have persisted despite the ridicule and the hurt being hurled at you by those who have never been able to understand the beautiful being that is you. No matter how much they tormented you or made you feel like you did not deserve to be here, you never let them win. You are still here. Every day that you choose to stay is another day that you have won against those who only wish to cause you harm. Every day that you carry on is another day that belongs to you because you did not let the ones who have hurt you stop you from living. You are still here, and because of that, you are thriving.

Growing up is one of the most difficult things you will ever have to do in your life. Your body and your mind are changing faster than you are truly able to understand, and it can become so difficult to keep up with all of the change whirling around you. When you are young, you have no choice but to look to those who are older than you for guidance on how you are supposed to make it through this wild ride that we call life. How are you supposed to feel when you look at those people and then you look at yourself, and the two are so vastly different? How could you not study the face of who we consider to be the world’s most beautiful woman and wonder how anyone could ever find you attractive when you look nothing like her? How could you ever feel pretty in a world you cannot even recognize yourself in?

This is how your mind begins to play tricks on you at such a young age. One day, you are reading a magazine or watching your favorite t.v. show, and you see someone being praised for their beauty. You see this girl, and she is beautiful. And then you look at yourself, and all of a sudden, you are not. Her face looks different from yours. Her body looks different from yours. Her style, her lifestyle, everything about her is just so different from everything that makes you, you. You start to wonder in that moment if there is something wrong with you because you do not look like her. You see how others love her, and you begin to wonder how anyone could ever love you. This is that critical moment that often catapults us into a lifetime of feeling not good enough and unworthy of another’s love. This is that catastrophic moment when everything we thought we knew about ourselves is thrown out the window, and all of a sudden you are a stranger living in a body deemed unacceptable by the very world you are expected to grow up in. This is the moment that changes you forever. This is the moment that causes you to grow up not feeling pretty.

This is the moment the world has let you down.

I am so sorry that you were always made to feel like you were less than. I am so sorry that you grew up in a world that created the most impossible standards for what it means to be beautiful. And I am so sorry that you grew up in a world that valued superficial beauty over all of the other amazing things that you have always had to offer the world. What you look like on the surface will always change with time. What you look like on the surface has nothing to do with who you truly are as a person. What you look like on the surface should never determine your value in this world.

Just because your beauty does not match the beauty the world is amplifying around you does not mean your beauty is invalid. You are beautiful for so many more reasons than your physical appearance. What you look like on the surface is only a tiny fraction of everything you have to offer the world. What you might consider beautiful, someone else might not, and that is okay. We are allowed to treasure different things, but what we should never do is devalue someone else for not looking like our own personal treasure.

Your beauty is yours, and no one can take that away from you. I know that feeling of never being pretty enough to be worthy of love and all of the other wonderful things life has to offer will always come creeping back up to haunt you, but you cannot let it scare you. You cannot let it win.

Maybe you never felt pretty growing up, but think of all of the other wonderful feelings you did experience. Remember the joy, the excitement, the wonder, and the awe. Remember what it was like to explore a new place or learn something new. Remember all of the magnificent things that made you the person you are today and how you never needed someone else to tell you that you were pretty to experience and enjoy them.

To all of the girls who didn’t grow up feeling pretty, I see you. I hear you. I am one of you.

You are beautiful. You are enough. And the world is so lucky to have you.

Maybe you did not grow up feeling like you were pretty, but that does not mean that you were not. Please don’t let anyone else convince you otherwise.

You have always been pretty.

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