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Beauty Within This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

It happened the summer I was 15. My friend and I were trapped inside on a rainy day, and she told me about a website where we could see and talk to boys we didn't know. My friend had always been outgoing, but the idea of strangers seeing me through a webcam scared me. But I foolishly went along with it anyway. At first, I stood in the background while she talked and flirted. Soon we came upon a group of boys our age, and I decided to try to be more like her, even try to impress her.

The boys told my friend that she was gorgeous. Then they saw my leg behind her and asked if I would show myself. I let her rotate the camera to me, and they immediately asked for her to come back on screen. “Your friend is really ugly,” one of them piped up, and the rest laughed. My friend flipped them off and abruptly ended the chat. Afterwards, she did what any good friend would do. She told me that the lighting was weird and that they had seen me at an odd angle.

I lay awake that night for hours, wondering how those boys could be so cruel. Being called ugly by my little brother didn't get under my skin, but I had never had a stranger tell me that. A stranger my age, too. For some reason, it was all I could think about for the rest of the summer. When I'd pass a cute guy while walking my dog or just sitting at a restaurant next to table of volleyball players, I'd feel ashamed that they'd have to see my face. I'd try to hide behind a menu or look off in the opposite direction. It's funny how one insult, one insignificant snub, can change the way you think about yourself.

I wish people would judge others by what's on the inside, but unfortunately we don't. The skin we're born in has become everything. What about the girl who hates her appearance but is kind to everyone? What about the handsome boy who steps on others to get what he wants?

I wish people were more understanding and tolerant of each other. I wish that we would all just accept how we look and spend the rest of our lives improving our personalities instead of perfecting our skin tone. But unfortunately, I too am guilty of looking into the mirror and wishing I was beautiful. I wish I could stare into the deepest part of myself on the other side of the mirror and see who I really am, the girl hiding in her own skin. I wish I could walk with confidence across a room. Maybe one day I'll be able to. Maybe one day this shell of insecurity will break and I'll emerge.

All I hope is that those who read this will think the next time they see a kid being called names in the hallway, or hear their friends talking about a girl they think is ugly. You can never understand everything about a person until you take the time to care. That takes effort, but they will appreciate you for it. They will feel like their prayers have been answered, that one person decided not to judge them based on their appearance and instead judged them on the most sacred part, their soul.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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SheEatsDust said...
yesterday at 1:31 pm:
Oh yes, I understand this completely. When I had friends I was always the ugly friend. Of course this wasn't said outright (although I've had plenty of people call me ugly throughout my life). But I could tell with the way my friends were treated vs. the way I was treated. Boys talked to them but never to me (though I tried to flirt with them just the same as they did). Now I've come to accept the fact that, yes, I am an ugly person and will probably never experience the grea... (more »)
 
exotusThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
today at 10:28 pm :
I'm sure you're a beautiful person, inside and out. Really, people can be so cruel, but once their looks fade (and they inevitably will with age), they won't have anything beautiful about them. But you, you seem like a kind person, a person that has a lot to offer, and I wish you would believe me when I tell you that there will be someone someday who will see you for who you really are, not what's on the skin. 
 
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