A couple of days ago, I received this gift from Dove.
It came with the message that every woman should celebrate her unique beauty, embrace and even express it.
The message reminded me of a contest the brand had in a local publication 10 years ago.
Yes, 10 long years ago!
I remember because I wrote a piece for it and won. I never did get the prize though. Maybe that’s why it’s still in my memory! Haha!
Yesterday, I rummaged through my box of memories to locate the clipping. Sadly, I couldn’t find the actual newspaper clipping but I did find the web printout that was still intact.
It’s entitled From Boyish to Beautiful, dated March 6, 2007. I tried the URL but it doesn’t work anymore so I’ll just retype it to be able to share it with you.
From Boyish to Beautiful
March 6, 2007
My brother is prettier than I am. And he is so without even trying. No, he’s not gay or anything of that sort, he was just born with the pretty features that I was supposed to have.
Tell me, aren’t dainty hands and feet with shapely fingers and toes a woman’s features? What about a sharp nose and thin kissable lips? So why am I stuck with this body that makes me think there must have been some mistake and I was made a girl only on the last minute?
Over the years, this great switcheroo has earned my brother his boy-next-door looks, a la John Prats — small, petite, artistahin (actor-like).
I, on the other hand, became an awkward toss between a boy and a girl. I’ve got a girl’s body with a hodgepodge of boyish features. Take one look at my hands and you’ll know what I mean. I’ve got big, unshapely hands that even the best manicure could not help, with matching feet that are a big pudgy pair, reminding me of a giant’s feet in fairytale illustrations.
I once took a picture of them, wishing they would look different in photo than in the original. I was disappointed because they looked worse up close! I never took the photo out again.
Added to my list is my very wonderful voice (ahem!). I’ve already lost count of the number of times I’ve been mistaken as a man whenever I answered the phone. And when I’d give my sibling the phone to answer, I’d always hear him say, “No, that wasn’t my dad, that was my sister!”
Oh my! Do I sound that bad? Anyway, my list is still quite long but I’d stop here, for both our sakes.
I didn’t need anyone telling me about my faults, I was not blind to them. But people did so anyway. “You know, your brother looks prettier than you”, they’d say. I was always just my brother’s shadow. He gets the praises and I get the ho-hums. He’s the looker and I’m still the ho-hum.
And that was how my confidence got thrown out the door. I became the timid, awkward girl who shied away from social events and functions. I hated attending our family reunions because I never felt pretty enough to be among my beauty-queen cousins. In a group of girls, I always felt that I stood out like a sore thumb as my insecurities were underscored by what I saw in them that I didn’t have.
I would never believe anyone who told me I was pretty. I would simply scoff at the idea and tell them to stop patronizing me. I even thought it incredulous that someone would be attracted to me, since there were so many prettier girls out there. I was just that — the ugly duckling who would rather hide at home, missing out on a lot of fun and good opportunities.
It wasn’t a case of overnight magic that made me gain back a little of my confidence. Even now, I am still working on it. It was a whole lot of building up by my dear friends, and by no less than my brother himself, which did the trick. They coaxed me out of my shell and into the world.
“You know what, you’re actually pretty”, they said. After hearing it a couple of times, I looked at myself in the mirror. What is it that they saw that I wasn’t able to? Why do I see a plain old-looking boyish girl when they saw potential written all over my features?
I then decided to prove them right. If they saw a budding person in me, I should try to see it the same way. I went ahead and gave myself a makeover. I tried to accentuate my girlish features to offset the odd ones.
My hair is longer now (hmm, maybe lash growth also next time). I junked the eyeglasses for a pair of contact lenses. I now wear slip-ons even if they show my unsightly feet and toes. I still don’t have the nerve for a lot of other things but I’m working on it.
Along with these physical changes is the change in mindset that reminds me not to complain about what I see as faults. I am fortunate enough to have this body and I’m sure God had intended it just the way it is. I am now trying to live outside my hermitage and I am enjoying every minute of it!
Fast forward to today, I’m glad that I am reconnected with this article. Appreciating and celebrating real beauty is truly a treasure and it’s something that I’d want to teach my own daughter someday. For more on #RealBeauty, head on over to http://dove.ph.