By Madinah Lawton
This is for girls who don’t like their bodies – for girls who often second guess themselves. I have a message for you, and it is this: You are perfect just the way you are.
Believe me when I say – I know how it feels to be judged. I used to think I wasn’t pretty because I didn’t look like the girls at my school. I didn’t look like the images on Instagram, Facebook, and in magazines. I used to think I wasn’t pretty because of my height. I am 16 years old and 6 feet tall. When I’d get teased about my height I felt like being tall wasn’t attractive. I secretly wished for the growing to stop. I was always the subject of the “basketball” and “giraffe” jokes. Trust me I’ve heard them all.
In addition to my height, I used to believe that I wasn’t pretty because I have scars on my face. I would always measure myself against other girls, and I’d always be the only one with a scarred face. Then, there was my body frame. I have always been extremely skinny, and I did not like this about myself. I weighed less than my friends and they would tease me about it. I’d laugh, but on the inside I was ashamed. I would eat all the time just to gain weight. I felt ugly and frail.
The boys I had crushes on didn’t like me back. In fact, it seemed that most boys would make fun of me and call me names, which made me feel worthless and even more ugly. I convinced myself that I wasn’t good enough.
One fateful day, I decided to join my school’s basketball team. To my surprise, basketball was something I was good at and it made me feel confident playing. It was an activity where my height was actually an advantage. In addition to the personal enjoyment I felt when playing basketball, I also felt a huge sense of pride. I was good at this game.
My mom has also been a huge inspiration to me. She taught me how to love myself. No matter how low and unattractive I felt, my mom was always there telling me what a beautiful young woman I’d become. This allowed me to change my perception of myself. I stopped doubting and worrying about how I looked and started embracing the beauty that had always been there, even when I failed to see it. It took me a while, but finally, I realized that I am pretty just the way I am. I realized that I should embrace my body even if others don’t. My self-worth had nothing to do with the opinions of negative people, and it was my mom’s positivity that showed me that.
My cousins and my parents used to tell me that I was beautiful and the more they said this to me the more I believed it. I didn’t care what boy called me ugly because I knew I was not. I still felt a little bad when I saw models with hair draping down their backs, because I knew this would never be me, but learning how to be a conscious media consumer taught me that a large part of what I see in the media is not reality, and I know that models have insecurities as well. Not everyone has high self-esteem.
After so many years of hating my height, I discovered that it was a gift. It allowed me to be a talented basketball player and I felt like it created opportunities for me that I might otherwise not have had. I realized that I was unique among my friends. Remember my message. It doesn’t matter if you’re big, small, tall, short, dark, light or skinny. You’re beautiful just the way you are. I believe that we are all made the way we are made for a reason, and this reason has nothing to do with pleasing others. What you think about yourself can be the key to your happiness. All you have to do is find the beauty that is already there.