I love participating in the Under Armour ‘What’s Beautiful‘ campaign. Taking time to chew on the important topic of self esteem and what beauty actually is has me realizing how far I have come over the many years I have been alive.
At the age of 15, I stopped believing that I was beautiful. In fact, I decided that I was anything but beautiful – a hopeless misfit that would never be more than someone with a ‘great personality’.
The pain of believing you’re ugly.
Some moments seem to have more than just 60 seconds in them; in fact one second can seem like a lifetime.
The first time I saw Jeremy Fortiner, the world stopped turning and my heart nearly pounded outside of my chest. Somehow I remembered to breathe as I stumbled forward, grabbing my sister’s arm and gasping something intelligible. Tall, muscular, red hair, green eyes, and well, hot.
At the age of 15, I was finally able to go to high school camp as a Freshman. High school camp meant high school boys. After enduring junior high boys who were all shorter than I was, it was a welcome change to not be bigger and taller than all the boys.
Awkward doesn’t even start to describe the tall, overweight, glasses wearing, clumsy, unconfident girl that I was coming into camp. I was the girl that every mom wanted her boys to be friends with; I was safe and rather undatable.
Safe isn’t beautiful to high school boys.
The whole week of camp was spent brushing my hair, applying extra coats of mascara and lip gloss, and wearing cute shoes in hopes Jeremy would take notice. Looking back, I am sure he took notice since I was constantly in his shadow unsucessfully trying to look cute and get his attention.
After 5 days, I started to lose hope of him ever noticing me, let alone talking to me.
Trudging back to the cabin after meandering around the lake with wearing my bathing suit and cut off shorts with my big bird beach towel slung careless over my shoulder in an attempt to find my crush and make him notice me, my luck changed.
My friend James, who’s mom much appreciated my safe qualities, yelled five words that changed the trajectory of my 15 year old life.
James: “Jeremy is looking for you!”
DL: “Jeremy? Jeremy Fortiner? Not your brother Jeremy?’
James: “Yup. He’s been looking all over camp for you. Seems anxious to find you. Strange. Odd actually.”
My heart started to pound and I sprinted to my cabin to ensure I had adequate mascara and lip gloss applied before he could find me. I was certain all my prayers and awkward lurking had finally paid off. He finally noticed me. He finally wanted to talk with me, to ask me out on a date. My fifteen year old heart was overflowing with anticipation and my palms dripped with sweat.
Coming around the path, I saw him running towards me.
It was movie magic in the making.
Jeremy: “Hey! There you are. I have been looking all over for you.”
Awkward 15 year old DL: “Really? Oh. Here I am.” Eyelashes batting in a haphazard way.
Jeremy: “Do you have a mosquito in your eye? Or a twitch?”
Awkward 15 year old DL: “No. Sorry.” The eyelash batting was replaced with nervous giggles.
Jeremy: “Anyways, I have been looking all over for you. I need to talk to you. I have something to give you. I have a note to give you.”
Awkward 15 year old DL: “A note? Oh wow!” My first love note. I could no longer form coherent sentences.
Jeremy: “Yes, I have a note for you to give to your sister. I think she is beautiful and I would like to go out with her, so I wrote her a note. I want you to give it to her. She is so pretty!”
Awkward 15 year old DL: *gulp* “Sure…a note for my sister…no problem…” Tears clawed at my throat and no words were able to come out, head bobbing let him know I would be his letter carrier.
Jeremy: “Awesome. Thanks buddy!” A handsome hand clapped my shoulder as he jogged away, crushing my heart with every single step.
Believing lies is never helpful.
At the age of 15, I let this and many other such painful experiences define my view of beauty. I decided that I was not beautiful and that every other woman was; that somehow God got distracted when he was stirring up the Donloree DNA and added too much quirky and a double portion of funny and altogether left out beautiful.
- It turns out that beauty was woven into every fiber of my being.
If I could go back and sit with my 15 year old self as she sat on the kissing rock on the river all alone sobbing uncontrollably, I would put her face in my hands and tell her the truth.
You have to pick yourself. Beauty comes from a heart that loves fiercely, dreams freely, and lives with passion. You are on the path to becoming an amazing woman who will, in time, see how beautiful you are right now. You are beautiful because you are wholly yourself and no one else. No 18 year old boy named Jeremy will ever fully get it, but the world will fully receive it if you let your beauty run free; if you stop hiding it away. Beauty is a heart issue, not a body issue. Live from your heart.
Embrace who you are and LIVE fully TODAY.
- Be yourself; be beautiful.