29 Mar 12 Beautiful Ducklings
Hi there, my name is Chris.
I recently had the chance to share my experience of being a severely overweight 12-year-old in TAF Club. (You can read that post here.) When I first crafted the post, I did not really have any intention to delve deep into my own childhood and insecurities. In fact, I was quite surprised that somehow the words took me to back to all the teasing, the mocking and the dark memories that I’ve tucked away in some forgotten corner of my brain.
For me, it was a truly cathartic experience, and I was glad I could share it on this platform to someone, anyone who was willing to listen. So, imagine my surprise when I found out the next day that my words reached some 5,000 unique readers. I didn’t know people would be interested to read about the “diaries of a fattie kid” or could even relate to the idea of having layers of excess weight on your body as a child. Because back then, when I was 12, that was my own cloak of unique ugliness, and I felt like no one else was cursed to wear it like I was.
I couldn’t be more wrong.
In response to my post, I received many heartwarming messages from my peers who shared with me their own narratives of change. It was through their stories that I learnt I wasn’t alone when I was 12 and insecure. I wasn’t alone when I wanted to give up on myself. I wasn’t alone when I thought I was the Ugly Duckling who would never grow up beautiful.
Here, I share with you a collection of 12 beautiful ducklings. My hope of doing so is to share with you that many struggle to find beauty in their own skin while growing up. Many share the same woes and frustration of not fitting into an ideal image or category. Many recall the same raw emotions of inadequacy that still lingers even into adulthood. If you do think you can relate to some of these challenges, remember that you are not alone. If you don’t, then do me this favor: cut down on the judgment, be gentle, you don’t know what battles others are fighting.
I was renowned within my extended family to be talented in pushing my spectacles up with my chubby cheeks. I was always the cute fat child who refused to stand on a weighing machine and refused to move from the dining table. The 21 year-old me just wants to tell that younger self this: 'Don't let the jokes and the teasing get you down! Get off your butt and stay healthy! You're beautiful, baby!'
I used to seek endless attention and acknowledgements from other people. I hadn’t realised that the only attention I needed were from people who actually cared about me.
It's almost like I'm looking at two completely different people! The years between then and now have been full of self-discovery, and being more accepting of my body and my flaws and realizing that as a woman, I am so much more than what I physically look like - I am my achievements, my personality, and my humanity combined. This has given me the confidence to flaunt what I got - and dayum I'm killin' it!
Your acne will clear. You will learn to actually do your makeup properly. (You may also regret some decisions.) But most importantly, you will learn to trust yourself and be unapologetic and proud about the things you love!
At 12 I had very crooked and yellow teeth, bangs and very skinny limbs. I wouldn't say I cared very much about how I looked, but I wanted to look as good as I feel. As per many teenagers I went through the whole braces + retainer thingamagic for 2 years, and at 19 I finally decided to cut my hair short and get rid of the bangs! It's still the same me inside, but if anything I feel more confident and comfortable having made these conscious decisions to make myself feel good about how I looked. 🙂
It’s not wrong to decide to change how you look; it’s a part and parcel of discovering yourself. But do it while respecting yourself and your body!
Listen to your mum. She'll be the one telling you how beautiful you are even during your ugly duckling days.
The idea that I will always be the slowest kid in TAF Club is something I may never get rid of. Now, I am satisfied with my body; occasionally happy. I am better. Yet even though the weight has been gone for over 8 years; no matter how beautiful I believe I am, or how many likes I get for a photo, that girl is still there. But I wouldn't be me without her.
I used to be really concerned about whether my childhood crushes would like me if I had acted in a certain way.. Until I realize that FOOD IS TRUE LUV OMNOMNOM.
Sometimes you don't have to grow into a beautiful butterfly. Because you end up growing up as another animal, in my case, a cat!
At 15, still carrying the dregs of my TAF club days, I was starting to worry that puberty had pulled me into a hormonal mess with no intention of letting me out – unable to lose weight and under constant acne assaults, I had all but given up on even trying to look good. If the last eight years have taught me anything, it's that sometimes, you just have to find the style that makes you feel most yourself, and just roll with it!
I guess growing up was never quantified by numbers nor physical looks. For me, embracing the change within has far more value and in a way gives me courage for what's to come.
A big CHEERS to all the beautiful ducklings – may you quack proudly and strongly into the future! If you’d like to share your own stories of change or leave a comment, reach us at [email protected]!