Skin Deep

I am here to tell you a little secret. It really shouldn’t be one, but perhaps that is the main problem. I hope to somehow fix it. But here it is:

You are beautiful whether you believe it or not.

Here is a dangerous lie that our society and culture endlessly romanticizes:
• Beauty is skin deep.
This is the part where I prove them wrong.

Beauty is not skin deep.

Beginning at a young age, I developed an unhealthy concept of what true beauty was. To this day, I can still recall being twelve years old and devastatingly unhappy at my physical appearance staring back at me through my own reflection in the bathroom mirror. I saw nothing but ugliness glaring at me, the glass revealing all of my visible flaws. I didn’t look like the girls in the magazines that scattered my bedroom floor, faces glowing like angels on glossy paper. I wanted to. I wanted more than anything to be comfortable being myself.

There was just so much that stuck out to me, so much that needed fixing. Curves in all the right places? Forget about it, more like a stomach that hung over my jeans. My hair was so thick that it snapped every single hair tie and couldn’t hold a single curl. My nose sat awkwardly on my face, always something to sigh at whenever I would catch a glimpse of myself. My eyes were too dark, too brown to be beautiful. I couldn’t grasp this idea of unattainable perfection, the kind of beauty that only exists on the airbrushed models on movie posters.

And because I could not love my appearance. I could not love myself. My self-confidence plummeted at this age, causing a wave of hysteria to envelope me. Trapping me in its embrace, this flourishing hatred began to consume everything that I was, distorting the visions of the potential I carried within me.

There was nothing beautiful about it, hating every single inch of myself. I was so busy trying to fit into the mold of the most gorgeous human being, trying to wear a mask of a person who turned heads whenever they entered the room. My mind had been wrapped around this idea countless of times to the point where I could no longer find anything worth loving inside of me.

But while chasing this idea of flawlessness, it was almost as if I had forgotten about everything else. The things that composed myself during that time period, the things that were not visible to the naked eye. The magnificent things that were present in me, that made me who I was- hidden by a wall I had put up by myself simply because I felt the need to hide from the judgmental eyes of an imperfect society.

Years have passed and now I love who I am. I am no longer twelve years old, but there are still many painful insecurities that plague me, except now I am strong enough to look at them and smile.

I have so much to be thankful for. Though I do not stand 5’7 like I had wished, I feel tall when I radiate kindness to the people around me. I do not have runway legs, but they are strong enough to leap through the air and run away from everything that no longer respects me. I do not have piercing blue eyes, but mine are capable of finding art in everything around me. I may not possess an hourglass shape, but I know how to use the time I am given to impact my peers in a positive manner. I may have bad days, but that doesn’t mean I have to give up every ounce of faith and hope left within me. I may be ridiculously imperfect, but I am so outrageously real- and surprisingly, that is all I ever want to be.

The skinny girls in magazines and shirtless poster guys are still beautiful, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t. To my boys- You can be attractive without a six-pack or a six-foot stature. And ladies, you can be stunning without a Kim Kardashian figure. You cannot be defined by a number that reads on a scale or the way your hair looks like when you forget to brush it in the morning. You are not labeled by the color of your skin, your athletic abilities, or whether or not your thighs touch when you walk. You are beautiful because you are you. The way you speak passionately about the things that keep you breathing. The way you laugh with your friends on the bus ride home from school until your sides feel like they’re going to cave in. The way your eyes light up at the desire to understand, to learn, to grow. The way your smile spreads like the flu, even the way you fall asleep at your desk when you spend four hours finishing up the homework you could have finished two weeks ago.
You are made of blemishes, scars, imperfections, and insecurities- but they are just as wonderful as your soul. They are constant reminders of how far you have come, and the journey you have yet to fulfill. This is your life, and it would be a shame to go through it without leaving a mark.
They are the flowers growing in the sidewalk cracks of your mind. Do not let them be overshadowed by the debilitating weight of the world’s words.

Let them grow, Let them be free.
Let yourself be beautiful for who you are
rather than who you are not.

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