Beauty Is More Than Just Skin and Eyes

Emily - Arroyo Grande, California
Entered on March 28, 2011

Age Group: Under 18
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I believe that beauty comes from character.

Ever since I was in third grade, I was teased for being ugly. Although the teasing came from a small group of people, it was persistent and upsetting. By the time I was in sixth grade, my spirit was broken. The collective weight from every time I had been called ugly had built up and snapped my confidence in two. I hated myself and convinced myself that I was a horrible, ugly person that no one loved. Of course, this was not true, but I was so misled by the hurtful comments of others that fact had no influence on me. My friends and family habitually reminded me of how beautiful and good-natured and humorous and gracious and clever I was, but being my stubborn self, they were ignored. I felt that since they loved me, they didn’t want to hurt me, so they were lying to make me happy.

In eighth grade, my perspective of myself and how I viewed other people changed drastically. I was walking home from my friend’s house when I crossed paths with some people in my science class, all of whom had teased me multiple times throughout middle school. I tried to crane my neck to the side so they would not see me, but they did. As soon as my back was facing them, I heard one yell after me, “Ew! God, you make my eyes want to throw up!” Now, I must point out that I had never said an unkind word to any of them, and I even tutored one of them in science. I shoved tears of anguish and frustration down to the pit of my stomach. As I started to walk faster, I began to feel sharp pain in the back of my head. They were throwing rocks at me, and with each rock, a once restrained tear slipped out. I endured and walked on, until finally I turned a corner and was safe.

The whole time, I was thinking to myself, “Why would they do this to me? I would never do this to anyone. Why would anyone be so unsympathetic?” In that moment, I realized what made me beautiful. What made me beautiful was the fact that I would never be that unkind, that I had empathy and compassion, and that I acted with more grace and tolerance than they did. My epiphany brought me to understand that the outward appearance is just a shell. If there is no character to fill the shell, it’s hollow. With that knowledge I can gaze past others’ skin and eyes and hair and see what makes them really remarkable.