You all know That Girl or Ashley from the comments section of The Girl Revolution. She writes a funny and insightful blog, Hey You, Remember Me about being a teen in the 1990s. She’s incognito, so she can tell everything. Thanks Ashley for letting me use this great piece about adolescent body image.
Hey y’all, remember me? Of course you do. We were the best of friends huh? Knew each other inside and out? Yeah, but here’s something you didn’t know about me. All that time, all those years you made me feel like crap. Your beauty made me feel like crap. No, I know, it wasn’t your fault. I would compare myself to you in a completely self defeating way. My mother would look at us all dolled up and ready to go out and she would comment on how cute we looked. “You complement each other” she would say. “You look good together.. the best of both worlds” But I couldn’t see it. All I knew was that you were beautiful and I was the opposite of that.
I look back and remember your effortlessly tan skin, your silky brunette hair, and your dark shiny eyes. I wanted so badly to look like that. But it was something I could NEVER have achieved. I look back and wonder why I even tried? I wish I could have just embraced ME. MY unique qualities. I was the tall, thin, pale, freckled, blue-eyed, naturally curly blond. “Naturally curly?” you think. “Thin? ..Tall?” Is this a joke? (the Internet balks) Is this girl teasing us? I know, I know, you’re muttering all kinds of I’d give anything!’s and ungrateful bitch!’s in your head. But here’s the really pissy, frustrating, tragic truth of it. I was surrounded by all you dark, sexy, brunette, normal height’d beauties (really – you had the rhinestone crowns to prove it) and I felt really, really ugly most of the time. I struggled to get a tan, to straighten my hair – and this was before the chi iron people! My rudimentary techniques usually resulted in a somewhat wavy/shiny do that would morph into a frizzy, unhealthy looking mess the minute I walked outside into the humidity. The styles that looked great on you, made me look as shapely as a coat rack. Why didn’t I just shop for MY body? “Fashion” boiled down to whatever y’all were wearing – not what looked good on me. By trying so hard to be wonderful ol‘ you, I created a mediocre me.
Sometimes I wonder what a knockout I could have been if I’d embraced my own strengths? What if I could have seen myself out of context? As an isolated entity instead of compared to you? What if I had shopped for MY body and MY coloring? What if I had let my hair do it’s thing? What if I had decided to enjoy the way we contrasted each other? What if I had combined all of my youth and beauty and sprinkled a little Samantha Jones confidence on top? We’ll never know.
What I do know is this: Since I’ve found my own style, embraced my own look, learned to LOVE my curly hair and play up my pretty, blue, almond-shaped eyes, since I learned that my long, long, legs are sexy and that my fair, freckled skin is striking in anything black, I would much rather be me than you. My confidence is much more Samantha Jones than Ally McBeal. I feel beautiful (most of the time). I still believe y’all are beautiful. And I’ll even admit that sometimes I still longingly glance at your dark, olive skin and wish I could snatch it off of your body and paste it over my own. But when it comes down to it – I would rather be me than you and I’m so proud of that. I wouldn’t trade my body or coloring or hair for anything in the world. Each time I look at my pale, blue eyed, blond children I fall in love with myself a little more. I make a much prettier woman than I did teen.