“Why are you so f*cking ugly?”
I’m in the seventh grade. My classmate has just posed this question to me as I sit in a group of all boys doing a project for Of Mice and Men, which we recently finished reading.
The boys erupt in malicious laughter and do a series of high fives.
“Well? Answer the question,” he taunts.
I sit, deflated by shock. I can’t feel anything below my neck. My shame, embarrassment, and rage congeal in my throat, and I feel my chin start to wobble. “Don’t you dare cry,” I say to myself, “Don’t let them see your most tender parts.”
“Oh my God, you are so f*cking beautiful. It haunts me,” my lover says as he kisses the back of my neck and holds me close around my waist. “I think about you all the time,” he continues, “I need one more kiss.”
As we lock lips, I hear a familiar voice in the farthest reaches of my mind, “I want to believe what he’s telling me, but I have doubts.”
“I want to show you something,” a loved one says as they open up a journal. “These were some of my thoughts about you when you were around 18 months old.”
I start to read their description (and projections) of me. My stomach nearly falls out of my body when I read the words “somewhat attractive” staring back at me in black and white.
The sting and shame hit me like a pineapple to the face.
I have never forgotten that.
To all the women who have had mixed messages about their beauty, I see you.
To all the women who have felt less than or shameful of their face and body, I see you.
To all the women who have questioned their right to exist simply because they don’t fall into the “standards of beauty” put forth by society, I see you.
To all the women who long to feel their beauty, prettiness, and aura shine at a higher vibration, I see you.
For all the women who want to be seen, I see you. I accept you. I acknowledge you.
Our beauty is not only skin-deep. Our beauty is boundless. Wild. Uncontained. Savage. Free. Raw. Unfiltered.
Our beauty is ever-changing, growing, shifting, and curtailing past hurts.
Our beauty is powerful and reckless, a tsunami of liberation from our prison of suffering.
Our beauty is needed—our tenderness, our love, our sensitivity, and our mother gene (even if we only mother ourselves).
Our beauty is not in the hands of others—we are now brave enough to claim it and say, “This is mine even if you can’t see what I see.”
Our beauty is ours. Our beauty is ours. Our beauty is ours!
So go forth, beautiful, because I will always see you, love you, and accept you.
I will acknowledge how beautiful it feels to wipe away the dust from the mirror, take a look at ourselves, and say, “Wow, I didn’t see you before, but I see you now.”
For all the women who have never felt beautiful, I see you, and I am you.