Introduction by Jessica Pittman – Article by Cassi Clerget “When I Believed I Was Ugly”

I follow Cassi on Twitter and without a doubt she is one of the most talented writers I have ever known – and she is 24 just like me. I love all her thoughts, her boldness, and her sense of urgency to explain to each and every one of us that we are beautiful and without a doubt loved by our Creator. So I share this story, because surprisingly I had the same story. Only mine wasn’t in college, it was in a JCPenney dressing room in 8th grade whilst shopping for a dress for the Valentine’s Day dance – which crazy enough, is coming up. I sat in there and sobbed when there wasn’t a single evening dress that would fit my plus size figure.

I cried because in that moment my insecurities met fear of rejection and in that moment I began a more-than 7 year battle with eating disorders. It was in that moment that I believed the very things she mentioned below.

So today, I stand before you imperfect but perfect, unlovely but lovely, though tattered still beautifully put-together.  

Thank you Cassi for your boldness to speak what most of us feel each and everyday.

I REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME I LOOKED IN THE MIRROR AND THOUGHT TO MYSELF, “I’M UGLY.”

It wasn’t a grand moment or a show-stopping epiphany. No, it was a whisper that echoed through my being. Standing in my empty dorm room, I could barely meet my own eyes. I looked at myself and saw a body that shouldn’t be mine. There was too much of it, more than I knew how to carry with confidence. I stared at my reflection and felt shame rush over my skin. “This isn’t what a woman should look like,” I chastised myself. “No one could love someone who looks like this.”

I can’t love someone who looks like this.

Because that was really what I was telling myself. I saw my body in the mirror. I saw every flaw, every imperfection, every slice of pizza, every handful of chocolate chips. I saw every time a man looked past me. I saw every time the man I cared about said, “I like you, but…” leaving me to fill in the blanks with my own insecurities. I looked at my reflection and assaulted my body with lies.

If I was prettier, he would love me.

 If I was thinner, he would go out with me.

 If I was beautiful, I wouldn’t be alone.

 You are ugly.

 You are worthless.

 You are unlovable.

I broke myself to pieces. I crumpled to the floor and wept; sobs ripped from my soul. I cried for the woman I should have been. I cried for the body I should have had. I cried for the men who never wanted me. I cried for the love I could never have. I let everything I had leak out of me, emptying myself before an unforgiving mirror. Shaking on the floor, I surrendered to the lies. I conceded. I was defeated.

I lost myself that day. And even now, years later, my heart breaks for the girl who believed with all her being that there was no beauty in her. Who believed her worth to reside in the reflection of a mirror or the men who wanted her. Who believed that she wasn’t worth love because her body wasn’t perfect.

They say time heals all wounds. The overly used cliché usually leaves me rolling my eyes. But as I sit here in this moment, I can only feel truth in those words. Because one day, I took the broken pieces of my heart and soul and began to stitch them back together with a loving hand. One day, I discovered that perfection isn’t beauty and attraction isn’t love. One day, I finally believed that beauty was more than physical. One day, I looked at my body and smiled.

One day, I realized that I am unequivocally, intrinsically, imperfectly beautiful. I am beautiful for all my flaws. And I’m allowed to love myself for every one of them.

I’m still stitching myself back together. The road to healing is littered with obstacles, real or imagined. There are days when I hate the mirror. There are moments when I wonder if I’m good enough. There are times when I think I’ll never find love.

Then I remember the sobbing girl on her dorm room floor. I remember the lies I told her, the pain I caused. I remember that even with her blotchy red skin, tear stained cheeks, and runny nose, she was gorgeous. She was lovely. And she deserved better from me. She deserved to be happy. She deserved to be loved for everything she was instead of hated for the things she wasn’t.

Because even as she sat there, broken and alone, she was worth loving. She was beautiful. She was enough.

So today, I want you to tell you what I couldn’t tell myself all those years ago…

You are enough. You are lovely and gorgeous and wonderful. You are beautiful.

You will never be perfect, but you will always be worthy.

And there is freedom in that. Because if you don’t have to be perfect, then you only have to be yourself. And that, my dear, is a beautiful thing. There is no other like you. You are absolutely one of a kind. The world is brighter and better because you are in it. So never, ever look at yourself and believe you are anything less than the amazing creation you are. Accept who you are and revel in it. Look in the mirror and know, without a doubt, that you are so worth loving.

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