I believe I am beautiful. I believe my beauty is inside and out, and that the same can be said for everyone around me.

I have lived in a home where outer beauty was always a concern, whether it be makeup, body, or clothing. It was never a rule to be “beautiful”; my dad always told the four girls of the family that we were beautiful no matter what. But, like nearly everyone in the world today, this wasn’t enough reassurance. My oldest sister was most worried about her face, saying her skin was too pale, her eyebrows and lashes too blonde, and she worked furiously to overcome these obstacles. My second sister struggled with her body image, dieting and controlling herself from the age of nine. Sometimes I would catch my mom looking in the mirror trying to suck her tummy in; the same tummy that protected and nursed three girls, whose sole definition of her is beauty.

As for me, I never really worried about beauty, I didn’t like makeup like Megan, I promised I would never wear it. And I forced it into my head that I didn’t need to diet and watch myself too closely to have a body society accepted, like Maddy. I never worried about my tummy, or my arms, or my thighs, because I started gymnastics at the age of five. Under this strict routine, I worked out three to five hours each day of the week, and rarely ever looked at myself in the mirror. I knew I was strong, and fit, and thought that maybe I could be accepted in society.

On August 20 of 2013, after eight years of gymnastics, I went to the doctor and complained about hip and back pains. That same day, I was told I had a minor stress fracture in my lower back, and this alone took me out of gym for six months to heal. Then I was ordered to have an MRI on my hips, which had been bothering me for nearly three years. When my mom and I got into the car that day, we both cried, because we knew I wouldn’t be able to go back.

At my MRI, nothing significant could be found, but I was told to go to weekly physical therapy. There, I was told my hips were severely out of line, and I would have to do daily exercises to realign them, and they would stick in proper position after eight months. I went to my gym the following Monday and told my coaches and team that unless my pain healed after eight months, I was done with gym.

I started eighth grade year in a frenzy of teenagers who pondered over their weight and makeup twenty-four hours of every day. I started a habit of sucking my tummy in in the mirror and imagining myself in a way that didn’t actually exist. My diet changed, and so did my body. I started worrying about my body, embarrassed about my muscly arms, my growing tummy, my powerful thighs. What I didn’t realize was I had quit right when puberty had hit all of my friends, and myself, and growing in this way was inevitable.

Now, at seventeen, I’ve come to realize that beauty doesn’t come from perfectly sculpted bodies, from high cheekbones, plump lips, and long, thick eyelashes. For me, at this point, I define beauty as simply individuality. Outer beauty, that society seems to believe is most important, comes from each person as an individual, and each of their unique lives as a whole.

CC BY-SA 4.0 Beauty that Matters by Annie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

4 Comments
  1. Emma 1 week ago

    Annie,
    Accepting your body in the midst of all the harsh expectations thrown at women is a never-ending battle. I consider myself to be much stronger than I once was, but I still frequently experiences insecurities. When it comes to your physical wellbeing, what ultimately matters is health. There are very thin girls who are very healthy and much larger girls who are just healthy. There are also thin girls who are extraordinarily unhealthy and large girls who are unhealthy as well. Your body is not always a reflection of your health which is the only thing you should preoccupy yourself with.

  2. Ellie 1 week ago

    Annie,
    I loved absolutely everything about this post. You wrote it in such a way where I think every girl, and most likely some boys, can resonate strongly to it. You are so right. Beauty is not on the outside. It should never have been that way in the first place. Society makes us believe that exterior beauty is what matters, but it takes posts like yours to remind us that beauty truly does come from within. Thank you so much for writing to this topic, it is so true.

  3. Bobby 2 weeks ago

    Dear Annie,
    You have a very personal story and a perfectly valid reason for being the way you are. But there lies the problem, it’s too personal. I’m concerned that people who will read this post will walk away from this saying, “I can be as fat as I want and I’m beautiful no matter what.” The fact of the matter is that most people don’t have a perfectly valid reason like you for being overweight and are too lazy to do anything about it. They rather tell themselves for society to accept them as they are rather than evaluating the cons for being overweight. But obesity is a big problem and kids don’t know the true problems associated with it like said here:https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/healthy-weight-basics/obesity.htm I still agree with you that beauty still comes from the inside, but who you are on the inside can reflect what’s on the outside. Do you think you can tell if a person is dedicated if they have a muscular body and puts time and effort into the way they look? I am interested in hearing of what you have to say.

  4. Beth 2 weeks ago

    Annie,
    This is a beautiful post. I love how engaging and positive it is. I think everyone can relate with being self-conscious about one thing or another. It’s not always easy to accept yourself, imperfections and all, and I admire how overcoming that major obstacles in your life led you to realize your beauty. Turned lemons into lemonade! I look forward to seeing what else you write.

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