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.

What truth would you tell your 15 year old self?

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  1. I ma be wrong, but I’m pretty sure God had a Mt. Dew and a Snickers bar the day he made you…

  2. I LOVE this post. I had a terrible crush on a boy all throughout high school, but he only saw me as a friend. I obsessed over this crush — why wasn’t I smart enough, pretty enough, funny enough, fun enough, etc., to date him? Then, years later, when I was in college, I randomly ran into him. He asked me on a date, and of course I said, “yes!” To make a long story short, the date was not the dream date that I’d expected. He wasn’t a gentleman, he wasn’t even that cute anymore, and all of that obsessing in high school was kind of for nothing. I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to go on that date, because I think it was the only thing that made me stop questioning, “What if?” And I later realized, it’s not that he didn’t think I was beautiful — he just didn’t like me as more than a friend! I’d tell my 15-year-old self to stop obsessing and analyzing, and just enjoy life.

    • So interesting, isn’t it?! I love that you went out with the guy later. I envision you ‘giving it’ to him at the end of the date. Less obsessing, WAY MORE LIVING!

  3. I LOVE THIS POST! I am on your wavelength with What’s Beautiful as I have felt ugly my whole life… never being the good enough one.. I totally understand this post! I even accomplished things but got NOs along the way as I tried to promote the things I thought I did well.. looks have a lot to do with things in life & I am still recovering from that at 55. I intend to win this I am Enough battle! 🙂

    • You are totally on the path to winning. Sometimes when I feel like I haven’t gotten very far, I realize that not going backwards is progress. I am so inspired by you and your fabulous self. You actually ARE winning already. Team Jody!!

  4. Jeanette Dickau says

    I know I’m just your mom but you were born one gorgeous person and always have been every day of your life. The 15 year old is screwed up with crazy hormones and that is why we all think we are ugly at that time in our lives. When we look back we see that we were pretty darn cute and funny too. We just did not know it. It makes me sad to think of all the hurt you put yourself through in those days. I love you my Donloree. You are an amazing and beautiful woman!!!!!!!!!

  5. What a great post!

    It’s really funny how we are just filled with these incredible insecurities when we’re teenagers, or that something that meant so much back then is actually something really unimportant that we can look back on today and laugh.

    I would tell my 15 year old self to stop freaking out about how I look, or what I wear, because none of that really made me a better person. And if a guy cared about all that, he was not worth dating. What would be more important is a heart that is centered on God.

    • It is so painful to be young and so many people don’t work through the pain to come out the other side. So proud of you for doing just that!

  6. I love this. Can I share it with my students?

  7. This post is great!! So true, and your ending comments says it all. I kept thinking of the scripture that says we are created and His image and are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14 )this scripture has helped me along whenever I feel anything less than beautiful or am thinking I am not worthy of any good thing. I think we can all have moments like this, but don’t want to admit it!! Thanks for this post.

  8. OH! i loved this post!!!!!!!!
    as a child who was bullied or made fun of from kindergarten all the way through high school, i really believed what everyone told me. i was ugly and stupid and would never amount to anything.
    i was the girl in high school all the girls made fun of. i didnt have name brand clothes or shoes,i didnt wear makeup,i was plane jane,and all my friends were boys. however,i was always just “one of the guys”. i was the one guys would talk to about thier girl problems. i was the safe,undatable one.
    i was a wall flower,very quiet,shy and never drew any attention to myself. i always felt like a misfit,and everyday i would hate walking to my first period class because two girls would always go out of thier way to say something mean or degrading to me….

    i found comfort in sports. it gave me focus,it was something i was GOOD at,and no one could argue with it. i enjoyed practices,i enjoyed pushing myself. it gave me a sense of confidence. it made me want to do better,to be my made me want to not settle for second best.

    if it wasnt for running and swimming and track….i would have been a complete miserable mess.
    and then when i got in college,it was a different ball game. i didnt go to the huge hometown college everyone else did. i got an athletic and academic scholarship to a small private college. at this place,no one cared i didnt have name brand jeans. girls thought it was cool it only took me 5 minutes to get ready,and guys loved that i could hang with them in the weight room. i wasn’t the girl kids made fun of anymore. i was treated like a normal person who had big dreams and goals that needed to get accomplished!

    thats not to say i still dont ever feel like that stupid ugly girl i was told i would always be. i still have to remind myself that i am beautiful and smart.
    one thing i would tell my 15 year old self:

    dont believe what others say about you, believe who you ARE,embrace who you are,love yourself and you will find love all around you. those skinny legs youve got? will be what carries you though college on scholarship. those lack of boobs you have? your future husband will buy you a pair to make you feel better,even though you dont need boobs to define your womanhood. you will thank that flat chest of yours when you are nursing your babies. and yes,you will have 2 beautiful daughters who will be beautiful,just like you–please tell them that everyday,that they are beautiful,smart and can do anything in life if they set thier minds to it…

  9. Kim Taylor says


    Thanks for sharing this part of your growing up story.

    If I may, let me tell you how beautiful I saw you from the first day we met. Has it been 10 years? You remember your look, your size, your insecurities. It is different than it is today, and yet, you were beautiful then, as you are now. I only got to know of your insecurities as you shared of your own view of yourself. I did not understand your insecurities. I did not see you the same way. You were beautiful when we first met. You have been beautiful all along the way. You are beautiful now.

    Your look has changed, you are older, you have more experience, and you made some intentional changes in attitudes and life outlooks and physical appearance.

    You were beautiful from the first day I met you. I am most certain you have always been beautiful. I can imagine you as a child, with your gorgeous eyes, your enthusiasm, your bright spirit bubbling up and out and all over the place. I am most certain that as your mother told you how beautiful you were growing up, that she believed it with all her heart. For it is truth.

    I am most impressed that you continually strive to achieve a beautiful look that shows the world how beautiful you are.


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