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My Name is Grace
I am not an actual model. But a year ago, I did manage to accidentally get myself into doing a photo shoot for Marie Claire magazine Korea. It was a project being done to celebrate the magazine’s 17th birthday and about ten 17-year-old girls were picked to each do a photo shoot that would appear on the March issue.
As the stylists were doing my make-up, I made occasional glances at the mirror to see the girl sitting next to me. And at one point, I saw that, with thick eye make-up, the girl had put on real charisma, a totally different look from when she had first walked into the room. As one of the stylists colored my lips bright red, I glanced through the pictures of the other girls that had been taken hours earlier, spread out on the small table in front of me. From them, I could tell that many of the others had also put on a lot of make-up and had gotten done pretty hair-dos for their pictures, too. Excited about the complete change of a look I would be going through soon enough, I waited patiently until the stylists were done with the make-up.
“Wait, this is it?”
“Yup. This is all we need.”
“Huh? What about my eyes?”
“Your eyes? Nah, we’re going to leave them as they are. Your eyes are more special just the
way they are, sweetie.”
“What? But I don’t look any prettier….!”
“Just trust us. Do you think we’d do a bad job?
“Let’s get started on your hair then” This better be good. I prayed inside.
“Hmm let’s see, how should we do her hair?”
“What do you think, Grace?”
“I don’t know. Shouldn’t you know better than I do? And you haven’t shown me what I’m wearing yet so….”
“How about we pull back her hair, like all of it and maybe put a long ponytail on the back?”
‘The pony tail would have to be a fake one because I have pretty short hair,’ I thought to myself. But, oh no. That wasn’t the problem!
“Wait no!! All back? No way….I have high cheekbones. It’s an inferiority complex I have. That’s why I always have my side hair down, didn’t you see that when I first walked in?”
“Nonsense. Your cheekbones are a gift from God. They’re beautiful the way they are. And today, we’re going to highlight that with your hair pulled back,” one of them said, smiling.
Oh God. Fashion people. They’re always like this. Why ask for opinion in the first place?
“No, seriously. I have a really bad feeling about this.”
“All………done!” one of the stylists exclaimed while doing the last of the hair-spraying.
I let out another sigh, looking at myself in the mirror.
“What’s the matter? You’re beautiful. Can’t you see?”
“All I see is my cheekbones. Thanks,” I said, missing home all of a sudden.
“No, honey. I see your eyes too. We purposely left out the eye make-up to highlight your eyes too, remember?
“Oh? I didn’t know that was possible. But, personally, I think the highlighting would have been more successful if my cheekbones weren’t so exposed like this, don’t you think?” I said, grinding my teeth.
“Are you kidding me?........Grace……..What, is it that you want, the perfect, oval-shaped doll-like faces on TV? The thousands of slender faces on magazines that tend to look very similar to me? Is that what you want? To be one of them? The same perfect face? You’d rather have that than this beautiful face right here that only you have?
That’s when it hit me. I don’t know what it was, and I can’t put it into words, but it changed everything about how I look at myself.
Sadly, as I put on the classic style Chanel jacket and panier skirt, I still hoped that the clothes would make me look a lot prettier. They didn’t. First of all, the outfit looked very Hilary Clinton. And second of all, it didn’t make me look skinny. In fact, it made me look fatter than I normally look. Great. Just……great.
But then, suddenly, I saw something else in the mirror. I saw what the other girls might have looked if they were to have worn the same outfit I was wearing. And I saw that this was an outfit only I could pull off. I saw that when it came to this outfit, I looked better than any of the other girls in the project. A handful of them had been model rookies with beautiful faces and slender body lines. I didn’t have either of the two but at that moment, I felt…..beautiful. I felt like I had the ‘grace’ that no other girl had. I was grace itself. No wonder they named me that.
There they were, my cheekbones. So very exposed. And my bare eyes, too, sunken. But, it really came as a surprise to me because, none of that mattered anymore.
Though my picture ended up being posted on the bulletin boards at school -my homeroom teacher Ms. Lee insisted on it- and though many giggled at it, while others struggled to say how sorry they were that I looked “better” in real life, my photo shoot has become one of the most cherished memories of mine. I’ve learned to appreciate myself. My cheekbones, my round face, and my not-so-hot body. I thank God for all of them. But best of all, I thank Him for this experience. Because without it, it would have taken longer for me to realize just how beautiful I am, no matter what they say, no matter what they think. Because without it, I would have continued to have discontent for my looks, for myself.
It’s called grace. Being given what isn’t deserved.
And it’s really something.