Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Green Monster

I think one of the biggest aspects of growing up is self-acceptance.

At least it was for me.

Throughout my life, there have been so many instances where I wanted to be somebody else. Desperately. And it would consume me.

When I was in elementary school, I thought my cousin Tiffany was the most beautiful girl in the world. She was like a teen dream out of a movie. Skinny. Blonde. Blue eyes. Cheerleader. Whenever we would walk places, people would turn and stare.

For example, one afternoon, on the beach, when she was wearing an American flag bikini, a line of hot guys stood up and saluted her, shouting remarks like "god bless America for you, baby!" And she just laughed at them. Because she was young and gorgeous and carefree.

I remember in 1995, whenever Tiffany would come to our house to stay overnight, usually with her best friend, I would linger in the hallway near their room and listen to them gossip and giggle. They often talked about cheerleading practice, what boys were the cutest in their English class, or silly articles from Seventeen magazine. I fervently wished that I could join them, but I doubted they wanted an annoying 11-year-old girl hanging around, making their sleepover lame.

I wanted to be Tiffany so badly that I pleaded with my mother to buy me the same perfume Tiffany wore and the same shampoo she used and a subscription to Seventeen. My parents bought me the first two, but I was deemed too young for the third.

And as a pre-teen, I would stare in the mirror and hate what I saw. Instead of a beaming blonde beauty queen, all I saw was an unattractive brown kid with crooked teeth, long ratty hair, and glasses. It broke my heart. It didn't seem fair. I had absolutely no self-esteem and while my friends were starting to be interested in boys and makeup, I found myself fantasizing about things I couldn't control, like silky blonde locks, ivory white skin, and bright blue eyes.

Several years later, when I was in high school, I was still licking my wounds from my self-destructive childhood image. It didn't help that Britney Spears, basically a younger version of my cousin, was now the face of my generation.

But when I was 16, I met a girl who changed my perspective. Lisa was cute, with long brown hair. She dressed in "skater" clothes. She wore black eyeliner around her eyes. She smoked. She listened to alternative rock music I didn't even know existed. She said "fuck" so frequently, it just became another word.

She also had a wicked sense of humor. Like, she was hysterical. Without missing a beat. She was like a teenage Janeane Garofalo.

I thought Lisa was so cool, I started copying almost everything about her. The way she talked. The snarky attitude. The questionable fashion decisions she made (Hot Topic, anyone?). The black eyeliner. It was very Single White Female of me.

I noticed that adults started treating me differently, like I was a delinquent. And looking back at old photos, I don't blame them. I looked like I should have been dealing drugs behind the gym.

Instead of being weirded out by my transformation, Lisa happily accepted it and we became best friends, walking around the cafeteria making bitchy comments about the popular kids and casually saying "fuck" in every sentence.

When I moved away to college, I never saw her again. And I threw away all those horrible clothes.

Now, ten years later, I'm surprised to realize that it has been a very long time since I've wanted to be anyone else.

I still don't have the highest self-esteem in the world, but I've accepted who I am and what I am. My twenties has been a period where I've discovered a lot about myself. It is fulfilling to know what I really like and what I don't, rather than copying someone else.

I have also embraced my differences. I've grown very pleased to be half-Indian because it's exotic and terrifically unique. The blonde princesses of the world no longer rule. Our role models come in every color. So do our sex symbols.

And while I do envy qualities in the people around me (Rian's brains, Jonny's charm, and my best friend Jenn's jaw-dropping singing voice), I don't want to be them. Instead, I appreciate them even more for it.

After all, I'm sure there are people out there who envy me, right?

That's just how it goes.


Cailin´s Place said...

OMG!the way you explain everything is amazing. you are AWESOME!

Sherin said...

This is essentially reading about my life.
I was exactly the same. Hated what I saw in the mirror. I was one of the only brown kids in school, and I wanted to be blonde so badly!
I'm so glad I grew out of it and accepted who I am. The confidence from that changed everything and I loved who I am - not in an overly arrogant way!

Barry said...

I'm going to say something you might at first dismiss, but I can see you working with youth (teens and twenties), possibly in a counselling role. Not because you have all the answers or have your shit together, but because you have a way of resonating with people.

You're very much attuned to what people think and feel Jen. I know you haven't had all the best experiences, but what that does is make you very relatable. It's a good indication of why you have as many readers as you do, and why so many of them share their personal experiences with you. Kind of like saying, yeah I know things get fucked up sometimes but we're all in this together. That's huge, when someone realizes you get them. It makes people feel less alone.

I agree with Cailin, you're awesome. :)

Congrats on hitting 900 followers by the way! <3

Shybiker said...

Great post. Important insight. We all go through similar experiences growing up.

It's wonderful when people reach the stage where you are: accepting themselves. We're all unique and should celebrate our individuality.

Alex said...

I'm so glad you're you. When you're young, it's so easy to see these people who we want to be like and just emulate them. But growing into who you really are is amazing, and I'm so glad I've gotten to know this you :)

Anh Nguyen said...

i totally agree with shybiker! you are awesome!!!! great post!

David Macaulay said...

You have 900 followers - shit OK - I want to be you, but seriously man you are waay cooler than some cheerleading bimbo..

French Girl in Seattle said...

Holy cow! David is right: You have 900 followers!!! Not bad for "an unattractive brown kid with crooked teeth, long ratty hair, and glasses..." :-) I think you are wise enough to know you have a lot going for you... and to quote Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones: "We like you just as you are!" :-) Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

Bunny Moreno said...

I understand how you must have felt. All my life I havent been latina enough or white enough-I live in both worlds. Now its more balanced bc know how to balance and I am also married to someone who is fair like I am and latino-he gets it. We both get treated like we are white americans by latinos and by white americans we get treated like we are colored people. Its crazy. Its taken me a while too to embrace both sides of myself. People used to tell me I was too pale and I should tan myself-now I love my coloring and I love my latin curves. Its who I am and if people are bothered by it then look away, right? xox

Leila said...

I think one of the things that's awesome about you is your ability to relate to such a wide range of people.

I think pretty much every teen in the world has experienced what you did. I used to envy my younger sister. Thin, long dark hair, exotic looking, the kind of girl guys turn heads for. And then me....bigger, awkward, teased constantly for being fat and ugly.

Being in my 20s now i'm far from perfect but what a long way i've come. You're awesome, you have 900 followers on your blog, seem to be living a pretty good life, you're good looking, in a stable relationship....the list goes on and soooo many women would love to have what you do. I'm glad you've grown to accept and love yourself, at the end of the day that's what's most importanat

Miss Laia said...

Glad you are finnaly back Jenny, broken computer are shit when it comes to blogging.
I just our way on life when we finally stop envying some people and become ourselve although I still envy your writting skills.

Tights Lover said...

Amazing post. I agree with all of it. I swear I was three different people during 4 years of high school. Looking back now, its easy to realize things would've gone a lot better if I had just been myself. Too bad we don't learn these things a little earlier in life.

I hope you have the best weekend ever.

Josie said...

I love this, Jen. I was the same way with my older cousin when I was young... But now I try not to emulate people. Why try to be anyone other than who you are?
xo Josie

viewrama said...

Great post, I like these photos so much!!, I love what you're wearing! :) would you like to follow each other via bloglovin and gfc? I will be very happy if you also check out my blog :)
Have a nice weekend! Kisses


fashion blog

A BRIT GREEK said...

Oh, I think we've all been there, everyone has an insecure or even self destructive streak in them... but we all eventually grow out of it sooner or later.
Anyhoos, you're damn fabulous, don't forget that love.

Thanks for your comment girl! We are super happy!


I can resonate to this because I've had self-esteem issues ALL my life. I don't think I've wanted to be one person per se, but I would always look at others and say.."I wish I had her skin"... "I wish I had the same hair"..."I wish I had her height", etc, etc, etc. There's so many things that I wanted to change about my self, and still do. I don't think I've resolved those self-esteem issues quite yet. I'm becoming more comfortable with myself, but I'm still pretty harsh on myself and at times, well, self-loathing. Here's hoping I reach the same pinnacle as you :)

Also, the sexiest women in the world are brunettes.. Just sayin'

Elizabeth Nott said...

This post is just wonderful. I am so glad you have accepted yourself more and more - I hope I can do the same in due course. I was SO similar to you accept it was my cousin Ali. Thin, beautiful and had the longest legs that made all the boys heads turn! I spent my teens realising that it didn't matter how much weight I lost, my legs still wouldn't get any longer and hating myself for it!

Rachel Jensen {Da Paura ♥} said...

I do think we all struggle with this to some degree. And we all reach a point in our lives (almost) where we are free but we always still feel feelings like this. My dad used to tell me "No matter who you are or how you look, there will ALWAYS be someone in your life who you feel you are inferior to in some way, shape or form. He told me there will always be men who will think someone is more attractive than you." I never forgot it and it's so true.

Cafe Fashionista said...

I LOVE you, Jennifer. I think it's awesome to know that you don't want to be anyone else anymore. Part of self-acceptance is simply realizing that you're you, and you can't do anything to change that. :)

Couture Carrie said...

Amazingly told story, darling.
Love the SWF reference!


Kim (A Very Sweet Blog) said...

Jen, you are so awesome! I wanted to be the popular girl too and had self esteem issues. Now, I no longer worry about everyone else but concentrate on me. It comes with age.

Meri said...

That is one of the blessings about getting older, is that you start to realize you are beautiful because of what makes you unique.

Oh to Be a Muse said...

That is how it goes. And I'm sure there are people who envy you...for one, I think you have an amazing writing talent and beautiful hair! And don't even get me started on your sense of humor!

But I'm happy to be me, and I know you are happy to be you. <3

Audrey Allure said...

I feel exactly the same way -- I definitely went through a lot of looks in the past. But all those experiences are great lessons to help shape who we are now :)

ravenlocks said...

You're gorgeous, I hope you know that. And more importantly you're talented, smart, and HILARIOUS. So of course people are jealous of ya. :)

I used to wish I looked different. I can totally relate to this. I'm glad we both matured and accepted ourselves. It's better this way, right? :)

PS. In response to your comment: I would not blame you for not wanting to take vitamins. I used to take Kirkland Signature (Costco) multi vitamins and they gave me a stomach ache every time. But then I found out that not all vitamins are natural. Some are synthetic versions of the real thing. Lame, huh? The Kirkland Signature ones also have High Fructose corn syrup or other fake sweeteners.

Have a great weekend, Jennifer!

Arielle-HumblePieVintage said...

Well said. I wonder what happened to your old friend? I wonder how her style transformed and if she threw away those clothes too. It's true that someone will always look better than you, but someone will also always look worse. Life is a journey to self love and self acceptance. I really enjoyed this post!

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