Writing by Savannah Mullings-Johnson // Photograph by Agus Cabaleiro
When I was thirteen, a teacher asked my friends and I to complete a class exercise to dig deeper into ourselves and question “who we really are.” At first, I was thrown; this was the first time anyone had ever asked me such a question and the first time I ever really asked myself. I had no idea and realised that, besides the basic facts I knew about myself, I was speechless. It was then I realised that I was consumed by something bigger than me… a darkness that defined me, but not in a good way.
During my early adolescence, I hated myself and could look in the mirror and pick out endless flaws simply because that was all I saw. I was fat. I was ugly. I was the girl whose best friend turned on her and made me feel worthless. But, I guess that’s the thing about mirrors– they can make you or break you, be your best friend or your worst enemy. Personally, I don’t advocate mirrors, as I think such devices are just another means to make us girls find more reasons to follow the socially constructed ideas of beauty. I mean, I would need more than my two hands to count the amount of times I looked in the mirror and found something to critique.
Molly Ringwald. Jennifer Grey. Both women are 80’s actresses and poster girls for imperfect beauty; they proved that teenage girls don’t need a perfect thigh gap or to know how to contour to look beautiful and be a bad-ass female. Furthermore, they taught me the importance of being a feminist and how valuing yourself shines through and can help overcome any insecurity.
It wasn’t until I turned 16 that I finally had my clichéd light bulb moment and realised I was strong and had no reason to not be proud of who I am. I was different, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t beautiful. Yeah, sure I still didn’t have the figure of a Victoria’s Secret model, but I love food and that was not about to change for anyone… I mean come on, who can really resist pizza and red velvet cupcakes???
However, the sad thing is you may never really get over your insecurities no matter how confident you become. I wish I could say you did, but in the words of DC heroine Black Canary, “once you let the darkness in, it never comes out.” Because only when you see the beauty of your own reflection, will others see it too.[share]