Sunday, August 21, 2011

To my 5th Grade Self: What is Beautiful?

I was a chubby child growing up. I wasn’t always chubby, but kindergarten hit and something caused me to start gaining weight. So by the time I was in 5th grade, my blonde headed popular friend looked at my yearbook photo from kindergarten and said, “You used to be so pretty! What happened?”

What happened? That’s a good question because I really don’t know for sure. All I can think of is that going to school may have been more stressful for me than I realized and I started to turn to food for comfort without really realizing it at such a young age. But who’s to know?

But what hurts me the most is that questions like those seemed valid to me as a 5th grader and really throughout most of my life. They added to my self hatred and low self esteem. It seemed perfectly ok to me for my friend to ask me why I had turned ugly. When is that ever ok? What kind of damage must that have done to my poor little psyche. Heck, I still remember those words today and I’m 25 years old!

I am often shocked when I hear about young girls harassing and bullying each other about looks and sexuality amongst other things. But it’s a common thing and I think most of us have experienced it to some extent. The standards set worldwide for women are just ridiculous. I’d like to say they are getting better, but when we have our tween and teenage girls bullying each other to the point of suicide, we have a very serious problem. The standard for beauty needs to be reset, and I think that it can start within our own homes. While I don’t have a daughter yet, I know I will be passing along to her—what my mother passed along to me. That beauty is only skin deep and what makes one beautiful is far beyond God given (or surgeon given) good looks.

I wish I could go back to my chubby 5th grade self and give her a hug. I’d tell her that she was beautiful. I’d tell her that she had the kindest soul of anyone in her class and that someday she would realize her potential and see her strength. I’d tell her to stick up for herself. I’d tell her that little blonde girls who asked her why she was ugly weren’t really her friends. I’d tell her that being beautiful wasn’t about being skinny, but it was about being kind and thoughtful and loving others. Beauty from within can radiate. And being beautiful isn’t just about looking like everyone else. You don’t have to be a thin, tan, blonde, athletic cheerleader to be beautiful. You can be brunette, red headed, gray headed, smart, chubby, witty, freckled, talented, wrinkled, and horrible kisser. But if you have love in your heart—you will be the most beautiful woman in the room.

What would you say to your 5th grade self?


  1. Great post. I would tell my fifth grade self to hold on is going to be a wild ride...but you come out okay. I would tell her to hug her Daddy at every chance because he won't always be there. I would tell her she is perfect...just the way she is...but it is fun to go outside and ride a bike or run :)

  2. I would tell my 5th grade self that all I needed to do was move a little more and I would avoid the weight gain later in life. And that I was worth it.

  3. Great post!

    I'd tell my fifth grade self that being different is never a bad thing. It's something to be celebrated, not hidden away. I'd definitely tell her to change her mind about taking karate with her brothers, too!

  4. I never was treated as pretty when I was a child. I had absolutely no cute little nicknames or anything endearing like that.

    And then, at the gym a couple of years ago, a man about 15 years older than me called me "little missy," like I was a cute little sister. <<the first cute little sister thing ever said to me in my entire life.

    Then I realized that I had *always* been a "little missy," even if no one had ever said it to me when I was little. Because our memories are not entirely linear, this nickname*has* reached back into my childhood and changed me about how I thought of myself as a child.

    I was always a cutie even though I didn't know it at the time. All 5th grade girls look adorable to me now--at age 43.

    :-) Marion

  5. That being popular won't matter in a few years and that it is better to have true friends, then to fit in.

  6. I would tell my 5th grade self to stop caring what the "popular" kids are thinking of you. Quit embarrassing yourself trying to get them to be your friends. Once high school is over, that whole popularity thing is a thing of the past for anyone with a real life! Oh, and I'd tell myself to ditch those ugly cut-off jean shorts paired with silk shirts. haha

    It really tears me up to think of the way kids are sooo beaten down by their peers, especially at school. We homeschool our 4 kids. They *do* have a social life and plenty of friends, but I feel so much better knowing that they aren't constantly being pounded by hurtful words and unrealistic standards.

  7. Wonderful post Alissa! If I could write to my 5th grade self, I'd tell her to march to the beat of your own drum, don't care what other's think, stand up for yourself more,and follow your passion and your dreams! Have a great week Alissa!!!

  8. Your post reminds me of the song "Conversations with my 13 year old self" by Pink. This is something I've thought about a lot. Sounds like you and I have had similar life experiences!



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