I am Beautiful, No Matter What They Say

Last week, I was sitting in my car at the parking lot behind my apartment. I had a few minutes, so I decided to just take the time to sit and listen to some music on my phone. I’m not sure how much time went by—it wasn’t more than five minutes—but at some point, I noticed that there were two guys walking toward my building on the other side of the parking lot. Normally, I wouldn’t have payed passersby much attention. But they were looking right at me, sneering as they passed. At first, I tried to think of some other explanation, some other thing or person they would have been looking at like that. For a minute, they disappeared into the building—presumably, they were friends of some of my neighbors. Then, they came back, walking the opposite direction. This time, though, not only were they both sneering at me, but one of them had even taken his phone out, and pointed its camera right at me.

All of the things that could have made them think my appearance was funny started rushing to the front of my mind. Anxiety and panic replaced clarity and tranquility. Was it my weight? I know I’m fat, but I always try to hide it with layers. What about my hair? Maybe my mom isn’t the only one who thinks I need a haircut. Was it my earrings? I just got them, but maybe it’s time to pretend they were never there. Or maybe, it was all of the above, and I’m just a total freak that can’t help but be so disgusting that these guys wanted a picture to laugh at over and over again. I’m sorry I’m so hideous. Or, should I say you’re welcome?

Sometimes, it’s hard to not believe those words. To not let those thoughts tell me who I am. It’s hard to shut out the voices, laughing, sneering, demeaning, judging. It’s hard to believe in myself and be confident and feel free when, no matter what I or those who matter to me think and say, it only takes one person, one sneering asshole, one judging comment, one mocking picture snap, to drop me like a stone. But at the end of the day, I, and the utterly countless others who face this kind of harassment, have to get back up. We have to keep standing, to try and believe in ourselves, to be confident, to be strong.

We have to tell ourselves: "I am beautiful. I am a WHOLE LOT of beautiful. My hair is FUCKING beautiful. My earrings are FUCKING beautiful. I AM FUCKING BEAUTIFUL. NO ONE can tell me otherwise."

I want to believe those words. I want so FUCKING badly to believe them. But sometimes, they're too far away for me to hear. To see, and believe. Those assholes who took my picture didn’t even think about the person they were hurting on the other end of that camera lens. They failed to recognize the human being who was right there in front of them. They only saw a moment’s entertainment. They only saw an other who didn’t matter.

They kept on walking, while I sat in my car, trying not to cry. Trying to believe, to hope, to feel, that I was beautiful.