Friday, 21 September 2012

Guest Post: A Teenage Girl's Journey to Discovering Inner Beauty

Victoria Shockley The Self-Motivated Writer:

When Victoria Shockley, Assistant Editor at Women Writers Women Books reached her teenage years, she was faced with the chafing challenge of accepting her physical self. From her awkward moments at school, battling with her brittle self-esteem and experiencing the frustation of teenage acne, Victoria finally shed her uncomfortable cocoon and emerged into an ambitious, self-motivated writer. Her honest account is an insight into the difficulties every teenage girl faces.

The teenage years can sometimes be the most difficult to handle, especially if you’re a girl. Appearance becomes very important and for most girls, their self-esteem suffers immensely: This was certainly the case for me.

I entered my teenage years in pretty bad shape when it came to beauty. I wore braces for over two years, and hated them so much that I covered my mouth whenever I laughed. At one point, I lost a baby tooth, but the adult tooth hadn’t come in yet, so I had braces plus a hole right in the front of my mouth. I was mortified whenever I saw a picture of myself. For years, I suffered from acne, and no matter what creams I applied or how many times a day I washed my face, I still walked around with all of those unsightly red bumps. Being a Florida native, the heat and humidity didn’t help!

Most days, I felt like my face should be covered up wherever I went. I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup until I was 15, so there was no opportunity to hide any of it. Even after I reached that age and began applying cover-up and foundation, it would clog my pores and sometimes make my face look worse than it did before.

I was also tall for my age, hitting 5’7” by the time I was 14 years old. Although I appreciate my height now, back then it was embarrassing to be taller than everyone I knew, even the boys. I could never wear shoes with any kind of heel, and I endured a number of different, insulting nicknames in school (“giraffe” was the most popular). As is common with height, I have bigger-than-average feet, so shoe-shopping with the girls
was always embarrassing. They would be buying their petite, cute sandals and heels in size 7 or 8 (I even had a friend who could fit into children’s shoes!), while I would be browsing the limited selection of the size 10 aisle.

Because of the importance that is placed on girls’ appearance and their attractiveness, my self-esteem suffered greatly during these years. I was shy and quiet, and I dreaded getting up in front of the class for presentations. I would spend hours trying to decide what to wear and how to do my hair, although I usually never discovered an outfit or dress that convinced me I was pretty. If people complimented my looks outright, I either laughed it off or over-analyzed why and how they could see me that way.

Looking back now, there isn’t one specific moment where I suddenly realized that outer beauty didn’t matter as much as I thought it did. It was a gradual process, but eventually I began to accept myself for how I look, and it became clear that what kind of person you are is more important than how you look on the outside. I started ignoring the insults, and instead, I listened to the compliments:

You’re so sweet and funny – I love talking to you! I can talk to you for hours.
I’m so glad I met you. You made a difference in my life.
You’re one of the most caring people I know.

Today, I still wear makeup, and I still care about what clothes I choose in the morning - but its not all that’s important. What really matters is how I act and what kind of person I am, whether I stand up for what I believe in and take into consideration whether I treat others the way I want to be treated  and be a good friend to those who are good friends to me. When you show people you’re beautiful on the inside, they’ll stand by you even if you have an unsightly pimple one day, or your hair won’t cooperate, or you have no sense of fashion. Who you are on the inside is what really matters. That’s what makes you beautiful.