So here I sit, 1 A.M. staring at the computer screen with my frizzy hair tucked behind my ears holding a lukewarm cup of coffee in one hand and holding my head with the other to keep it from falling. I sigh as I think, “What is beauty?...what really is beauty?” “It’s at the tip of my tongue, it’s there... but how do I put it in words... so people understand where I’m trying to get at?” Then it hit me, maybe if I start out with sharing a little about myself and an experience I had gone through...people will understand me better.
So I guess you can say I’m not what every girl dreams to be. I’m not well-known, I don’t have that long and lean body, that perfect hair, that million dollar smile, nor the luxuries every girl wants and needs. Nope, I am a simple American girl. I stand about 5' 2' ' with thick thighs and plump arms. I guess one could say I’m a little chubby. I have small dark eyes, and dark wavy hair. Until I was 9, I was born and raised in a very diverse community with many different types of cultures colliding together. But right after my 10th birthday, I moved to a suburban town and it was the total opposite of what I was typically used to. It wasn’t very diverse here at all. It felt pretty weird transitioning from such a diverse society, where it was normal to hear hundreds of people speak at least 10 different languages a day, to a town where the first thing I noticed when I came here, was the luxury and beauty everyone had. Not saying that people in the city aren' t beautiful of course, it just seemed different here. People stood out more, no one really blended in. Since it was such a small town, everyone knew each other. And mostly everybody seemed to be the same: happy, healthy and wealthy. And to me, that was all that anyone ever needed.
As one of the few Korean girls living in my neighborhood, growing up, I always envied the way Caucasian-American girls looked. I struggled with self-image even as I got older. I used brunette shampoo “for lighter shades” to make my hair lighter, I would beg my parents for green-colored contacts, and I would stay out in the sun until my skin couldn’t possibly get any darker just so I could look like “everyone else” and fit in. I remember one girl I once knew, and she was the envy of all young girls... Those large, piercing ocean-blue eyes you couldn’t stop staring at, that pin-straight, long, blonde hair and those cute little dimples that accentuated her face. I had always thought to myself, “Why can’t I look like that?” Though I was American-born and one of those “Americanized Asians”, you know, having American- style, following American customs, having English as my first language...etc. I never felt like I fit in because I didn’t look like the girls around me.
So, a few years ahead I decided to order some magazines. You know, to help spiffy-up my look, to look like the other girls...only for cheaper. “Let’s see, page 74, how to get cute buns...,” “page 98, what type of mascara is perfect for you?,” “page 132, the perfect pout.” So there I stand, leaning over the sink, I look closely to examine my face pointing out every flaw I possibly can on my face. Then, I pull myself back with more disappointment. “Why can’t I be skinny,” I thought. “Why are my arms so fat?” “Why are my legs so short and stubby?” “God, please make my face more pleasing to look at. I counted on magazines and the make-up to cover all my flaws and change my physical appearance, trying to ‘make my mirror happy’. I did this all in hopes of "becoming pretty" on the outside. Not once did it ever cross my mind to even change myself on the inside.
I’m assuming that you now know that I wasn’t so confident during the younger years, eh? Some of you can probably relate. You know it. No matter how beautiful you are, you have been uncomfortable one time or another about yourself, thinking of ways to make your self more beautiful right?
Well, maybe some of you’ve reached you’re goal and found complete comfort with yourself and think you’ve grown out of that “petty little phase”, and some of you, well you’re still in dire need for a boost of confidence. Well for those of you who don’t know, I’m going to tell you this now, we all go through it. I mean who doesn’t? It’s hard not to think about perfections and imperfections with what you’re surrounded by. You’re bound to think about it once in a while.
So you’re probably thinking, “Why in the world did she tell me all this, what is she trying to get across?” Well, here it is. Here’s what I’ve been trying to say. We all have our insecurities; we all want to be more beautiful. But I’ll let you in on something; you were made the way you are for a reason. You are beautiful inside and out, no matter what anyone ever says. People say terrible things because they have nothing else going on in their lives, so they feel that degrading other people will make their lives more exciting and to make themselves feel better of course. It's natural, we all do it at times. Haven't you ever said, "That sweater is so ugly on her?" Just because you don't like her very much?Well, maybe you haven't, but I know i have and i am not too proud of it either.
The thing is, it took me a while to understand that beauty doesn’t mean perfection. It took me all the way to the point, where I got dumped by a guy I had once dated. My boyfriend (at the time) and I had so many conversations about me being beautiful that he couldn’t take it anymore. He said he couldn’t take my insecurities. It was hurting our relationship too much. No matter how many times he assured me of my beauty, I just couldn’t get it through my head. He once told me, “You know what I love about you? You. I don’t care if you think your too big, or not pretty enough, or not smart enough, or just not good enough. Because you are good enough. I like that you’re not like those supermodel-thin girls because that isn’t even all that healthy, I like you’re chubby cheeks, and your arms are not fat, stop saying that they are! And your legs aren't stubby, they may not be the longest but it makes you an individual and unique person which is beautiful. I know everyone says this, but it is true, the outside counts, and that’s all. What you do makes who you are. You were always good enough, and always will be, no matter what.” Nope, I didn’t even budge. So a week later our relationship ended. But I will never forget what he told me.Yep, I learned it the hard way. Why? Because, I just couldn’t see past my flaws. It took a guy to break my heart to make me realize I was beautiful inside and out. And yes, I have been told I was beautiful no matter what, by my family, my friends. But nope, I just couldn’t see it. It’s because I knew they loved my no matter what, I mean what else are you supposed to say to your loved one? You have to tell them they’re beautiful aren’t you? Exactly. That’s the reason why I didn’t believe them! Weeks after I realized that what he said to me that day was true, he was completely right. I never forgot what he told me. And thank goodness because that’s what changed me! It was what made me realize that the person I was loved for my actions, and not because my appearance. And now I like the fact that I stopped trying to make my hair lighter, straighter and everything else because now I am my complete true self.
See, beauty isn’t what you see on TV, and it’s nothing what the media says, it’s not that bone-thin model you see cat walking on the runway, nor is it that girl you’ve always envied that caught everyone’s eye. Beauty isn’t having make-up rituals every morning to cover your blemishes; it’s not going to the tanning salon to make yourself bright-orange (which is supposedly making you gorgeous). Don’t get me wrong, from time to time I may slip into those sorts of pleasures, but what I am trying to say is, beauty is what you make of it, not anything else. Beauty isn’t having that hourglass shape, totally manageable hair, top of the line designer clothing, or those perfect green eyes, (though it is very attractive). Who you are, makes you...you. And that is true beauty. I once read a quote which read: “Envy id ignorance; imitation is suicide” - Ralph Waldo Emerson. No kidding huh, what if we all looked like one another, that wouldn’t even be beautiful. We wouldn’t even know what beauty is because all we would see would be the same. I’m not saying to be apathetic of your looks. It’s important to keep self-groomed. Don’t think you’re being high maintenance or even a little bit conceited because you’re thinking of your looks. But know that imperfection is what makes beauty. Embrace the flaws you have! The bottom line is: being beautiful means being completely confident. When you show the love you have for yourself to others, your true and inner beauty will shine through! Having imperfections sets you apart from the world, which really is just perfect.