The Ugly Duckling Series: Jenny

9:00 AM

They say you are your own worst critic.  We like to look into the mirror and focus on all the qualities we don’t like about ourselves.  It’s easy to see our flaws, and difficult to see our most beautiful features.  We all have our own insecurities, but what if we could turn those insecurities into positives? 

This new series is called the Ugly Duckling Series.  It consists of personal posts between each of us and you.  In this series, we will be sharing insecurities we’ve had throughout our lives, and how we deal with them.  This will be an eye opener for us as well.  We will be trying to take each of our flaws and look at them in a positive light.

Looking back on how my insecurities started, it’s kind of sad that a lot of them were pointed out to me by other people.  When I was young, it never mattered to me what people looked like.  I didn’t notice that I looked different from everyone else.  I was completely oblivious.  Growing up in a mainly white population, I didn’t even realize that I was Asian until I went to high school.  It wasn’t until people started pointing things out to me that I grew concerned about the way I looked.  Now, I can list a whole bunch of things that I was insecure about over the years. 

1.  I have Scoliosis. – Scoliosis is an abnormal curving of the spine.  My mom caught it when I was 11 years old.  My spine curved at 47 degrees.  The doctor recommended surgery, but my parents were worried because we were dealing with the spine.  I ended up wearing a back brace for 2 years during junior high, just to prevent my spine from getting worse.  Junior high is already a rough time for children; they go through so many awkward changes.  And I had to wear a back brace… Luckily, I could wear it under my clothes.  It was still awkward; if I slouched, you could see the brace sticking out, it flattened half of my butt when standing, it made me appear bulky, and if someone tapped me on the back to get my attention, it was like knocking on a door.  I still had friends and played it off like it was no big deal that I was wearing a back brace.  My friends still accepted me which was all that really mattered anyway.  That’s all I could have really asked for.  Plus, it was like having a corset since it was molded from my skinny little 11 year old body.  You can imagine how skinny I was when I entered high school.  Now, I’m still insecure about how curved my spine is.  Clothes don’t always fit me the way they should, I’m not too confident when I go to the beach in a bikini, and I’m visibly crooked.  However, it could be worse.  The doctor said I adapted well to however my spine was growing.  My shoulders look pretty even, and my back doesn’t ache too often.  And hey, I have a nice little curve that makes one of my hips look bigger.  If it wasn’t for my Scoliosis, I wouldn’t have any curves at all.  Seeing the positives?  Anyways, yes, I have a really curvy spine that I am self-conscious about, but it never stopped me from living my life.

2.  I am sometimes insecure about my smile. - 

  • I had braces on my teeth. – Yeah, after 2 years of wearing a back brace, I get more braces.  But at least these braces were more common among the crowd.  I wore braces for 2 years when I first entered high school.  They were a pain, and I was always worried that food would get stuck in them, but it never kept me from smiling.  And I’m not talking about those fake no teeth smiles.  I always smiled with my pink braces showing!  And I was told I have a lovely smile, thank you very much (even if it was out of pity).  When I finally got the braces off, I had straight teeth and really did feel like I had a lovely smile.

  • I have a gummy smile. – This was pointed out to me by my family, and now I feel self-conscious when I smile too big.  It’s not the gummiest smile ever, but it’s still pretty noticeable.  Working with children, they tend to be very honest.  They will mistake my gummy smile for big teeth, because with my gummy smile, you can see the whole tooth instead of just part of it.  When someone points it out, I tend to stop smiling because I become self-conscious again, but sometimes, I just don’t care because I can’t help but laugh or smile really big when I’m happy.  Why should I let my gummy smile take my smile and laughter away?  A gummy genuine smile is more beautiful than a forced, hidden, half smile.
3.  I have a weak chin. – I always thought I looked funny from the side view, and I couldn’t figure out why.  Then I noticed I had a weak chin.  There’s not really much I can do about this unless I get plastic surgery.  I’m sorry, but I don’t want to get plastic surgery.  It’s permanently deceiving.  However, I noticed that when I smile, my chin sticks out more so that it is less noticeable.  It always comes back to smiling… Seeing a pattern here?

4.  I do not have beautiful flawless skin. - 

  • I have Asian freckles. – I never really even noticed until again, my lovely parents, pointed it out.  Asians view clean and clear skin as beautiful, so having freckles is considered a negative trait.  I don’t have a lot of freckles; they’re only on the apples of my cheeks.  My mom told me that there’s probably a way to remove them.  I don’t think I ever will though.  Now, I don’t really mind having freckles too much.  My boyfriend likes them, and I’ve gotten compliments about my freckles from people.  Even though it is skin damage, I’ve come to accept them.  They make me unique.

  • I have super dry, sensitive skin along with Eczema and Keratosis Pilaris (“chicken skin” bumps). – I would have Eczema rashes on me all the time when I was younger.  My skin would flake around my eyes, the inside of my elbows and knees would have huge red rashes, and I couldn’t cover them up.  Then I found out I was allergic to some metal, and when I wore jewelry, it would irritate my skin with more rashes.  As if I didn’t have enough skin problems, I had rough, bumpy skin that looked like chicken skin.  People used to tell me I had goose bumps all the time, even when it wasn’t cold.  My parents told me that my skin was like sandpaper.  I started using more body lotion, but the bumps just wouldn’t go away.  I guess I’ll just never have that perfectly clear, smooth skin, but it doesn’t affect me too much.  Sometimes I will still have a few Eczema breakouts, but for the most part, they’ve been manageable.  I try to wear hypoallergenic jewelry to prevent any more rashes.  I moisturize right after I get out of the shower.  Although it is annoying having dry skin, there is a bright side!  I rarely get any pimples!  The most pimples I’ve had at a time were probably 2 or 3.  Even getting one pimple was very rare.
5.  I have gray hair. – Ahhh!! I know I’m getting older, but my mom would find gray hairs on my head when I was 12.  It would only be one at a time, but still.  I was 12!  I probably wasn’t eating as healthy as I should have been.  Now, I have more gray hairs on my head.  It’s not like all my hair is turning gray, but a good few of them are.  My natural hair color is super black, so the small chunks of gray hairs stick out like a sore thumb.  I started dying my hair because it was so black that it made my skin look pale and washed out.  It also helped hide the gray hairs on my head.  When my roots grow out, I’m still self-conscious about my gray hairs showing, but I try to hide them under the hairs that aren’t gray.  As long as I’m not going completely gray yet, I’ll keep dying my hair.  However, I also don’t want to overdo the dying.  I still wait a few months between each time I dye my hair, even if my gray hairs are showing.  I’d rather have gray hair than no hair at all.

6.  I have no curves (besides my spine). – This one is silly; it’s more of wishful thinking than an insecurity.  I have a small bust and a small butt.  Some people might get annoyed with me because I am a fairly skinny person, but just saying, some curves would be nice!  Luckily, clothes can make all the difference.  Some clothes are more flattering on different body shapes than others.  Victoria’s Secret can be a miracle worker for girls who have a small bust.  The tricky part is figuring out your correct bra size.  As far as bottoms go, just find something that brings attention to the right places.  When in doubt, leggings and yoga pants seem to make everything look better.  Or just keep it covered with a flowy dress or skirt.  It will do the work for you.  I’m not ashamed of my body; I just admire women with curves.  If you’ve got them, flaunt them; if you don’t, fake them!  Just kidding!  The important thing is to be proud of what you have and comfortable and confident in your own skin!

Those are some things that I have been self-conscious about throughout my life.  They may not be features I’m proud of, but they make me who I am.  Has anyone ever made you feel insecure about something you never thought about before?  Feel free to share your insecurities with us, and also how you crushed them!  We would love to hear from you, and we encourage you to make a list like we do in this series! Remember, beauty isn’t everything, but maybe appearance is.  If you appear to be confident and hold yourself in high esteem, then you will be seen that way.  Don’t forget to smile!  A smile goes a long way.  Be different, be unique, be yourself!  Carry your flaws, don’t let them carry you!  

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