The Swan Who Thinks Like an Ugly Duckling

I absolutely love this piece!!  Alisha Thomas authentically shares her struggle to see herself as beautiful.  I believe that this is so powerful and needs to be shared with young girls who feel they are going through an Ugly Duckling phase.  I plan to start speaking at schools and girls programs and am going to share this piece. Thank you Alisha!

When we were kids, we saw the meaning of beauty in Barbie dolls and fairy-tale princesses. When we became teenagers, we left behind those ideas and moved on to seeing beauty in Pop Stars and magazines. The years went on from there and we continued to find beauty in many different things and types of people, but most of us were never lucky enough to develop a sense of appreciation for our OWN beauty. We took those earlier ideas and built them up so high that our minds would begin to say, “A girl like me? THAT beautiful? Yeah right. I could never reach that level of beauty.”


It’s safe to say that I am one of those girls. And I have said that very same thing to myself on many different occasions. I am 22 years old and I have struggled with negative self-image for a very long time. I was the ugly duckling in school—you know, the little red headed kid who had freckles and teeth which resembled that of Bugs Bunny himself. And, like every ugly duckling, I eventually grew out of that stage and became my own version of a “swan”. Or, so I’m told.


But…I just can’t help but wonder…did anyone ever ask the swan how it felt after it transformed from an ugly duckling? Everyone just assumes the swan went from depressed to happy within the snap of a finger. Sure, it probably thought itself to be beautiful at first…but what about after it swam around with the other swans? Swans that were whiter or, perhaps, had a seemingly more perfect beak? If that swan was anything like me, I’d be willing to say–even though vastly changed in appearance–that swan still held those same insecurities and negative self-images in mind…just as she had done when she was a duckling.

And that’s exactly how I got where I am today. I grew up with this picture of myself; “I’m ugly. I’m not as pretty as the other girls. I will never be beautiful.” And, even though I did eventually grow out of that awkward stage of my life, those negative thoughts never left my mind.

To this day, I find that I’m still comparing myself to every beautiful girl that walks into my college classroom or passes me in the grocery store. I won’t allow any boy to come close to my heart because I know and accept that he’ll eventually break it…and leave me for someone who’s just a little bit better. And because of that, I can sit here and honestly say that I’ve never had a boyfriend…and I’ve never been kissed. I have missed out on so much of my life because of fear and lack of self-confidence. In my mind, there’s always someone better, or prettier, or smarter, or more beautiful.
But, you know what? I’m learning that these thoughts that plague my mind (and, I assume, many other girls’ minds) are nothing but a learned habit. A habit that has been formed from years of negative thought and self-doubt. So the question is, why do we allow this habit to continue when each and every one of us has the ability to put an end to it?

I say, today, we put the past behind us and we start again. I promise that tomorrow morning when I wake up, I won’t avoid looking into the mirror. With pride I’ll look into my own eyes and tell myself that I am beautiful, regardless of what or how other people think. I promise that, when I walk into class on Monday morning, or when I go to the grocery store, I won’t look at all of the other girls and tell myself they’re prettier than I am. I’ll stay confident and strong and be proud of myself as I am there amongst them. I promise the next time a worthy guy comes into my life, I won’t be afraid to give him my heart, for fear that he’ll give his to another. I promise to be proud of who I am, and comfortable in my own skin. My wish is that you will do the same.

I will end this post by saying that Beauty is a universal term with many different definitions. Are there any two people who think of beauty the same way? My guess is no. However, I think it’s safe to say that, in the end, it all comes down to being the same thing.

As a very intelligent character from one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays once said… “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Well, dear Juliet, I think you’ve got it. Though I know you were probably going in a different direction with those words, I think you hit the nail right on the head when they’re applied to the idea of beauty.

Though there are many different types of roses—red ones, white ones, yellow ones, pink ones—in the end, they’re still the same thing: sweet smelling roses. And this very same idea applies to us. Though there are many different types of women…in the end? We’re all beautiful.

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About isabelrasmussen

Three generations of women in my family raised me until first grade, amongst them I was taught how wonderful it was to be a girl. In my tween years I was confronted with many of the social challenges other girls face and my self confidence dwindled. I think it was going from being so proud of being a girl to struggling so much as a girl and reading of all the struggles that women faced that motivated me throughout my life. I received her undergraduate degree in Women’s Studies at UW and then worked in domestic violence and as a community organizer in San Francisco. At 26 I took the opportunity to live in Guatemala for a year and West Africa for a summer. I returned to the US and in 2008 obtained a Green MBA at Dominican University in San Rafael.
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2 Responses to The Swan Who Thinks Like an Ugly Duckling

  1. Pingback: The Ugly Side of Beauty Makeover Reality Shows | Beauty Message

  2. Pingback: Being A Size 0 Does NOT Make You Beautiful. | Beauty Message

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