Editor's note: This article was originally published on Ben Arkell's blog. It has been republished here with permission.
July 25, 2012 started out with an innocent trip to Macey's to purchase the infamous "Kong Kone" that my wife coveted as a child. While we were in line admiring the prospective dessert, I overheard some teenagers talking about "YOLO kissing." (YOLO is an acronym for "you only live once"). For those who are more clueless than I, this involves going up to a random stranger and kissing them. One of the teenagers was talking about another girl who apparently enjoys participating in the aforementioned activity.
After YOLO kissing was mentioned, one of the girls said the most shocking thing I've ever heard a human being say out loud. Don't worry, this is rated PG, but what she said stung me so hard that I'm now up at 12:46 a.m. writing a post about the subject. She said to one of the boys "I would love to do that too (YOLO kissing) but I'm hideously unattractive." (giggle giggle)
My first reaction was how could anyone talk about themselves that way, and then I realized I had to catch a glimpse of this girl. Up to this point I hadn't seen what she looked like so I positioned myself in a place (by the Jell-O desserts) where I could see her, and she was a very decent looking girl. I wanted to go up to her and tell her not to talk about herself that way and let her know that she was a perfectly fine looking human being, but I was unsure what kind of reaction I would get.
Her comment made me sick to my stomach. I just didn't understand how someone could say this about themselves, let alone blurt it out in the deli section of the grocery store to her friends. I know some might feel they are hideous when they look in the mirror in the morning, but this was different and frankly uncalled for. What was her home life like? Did she have a father that told her she was beautiful? These questions were racing through my mind as I envisioned my own daughters and what they are going to think of themselves as they get older.
Since I didn't take the opportunity to say something to this girl, I'm going to say it here and hope that by the magic of the Internet it will find her and influence others along the way. In order for that to happen I need your help. After you read this, please share it on Facebook and invite others to read it. Maybe Macey's girl will end up reading this one day.
Here goes. I'm talking one-on-one with you Macey's girl.
First, let me say that you are perfectly capable of being seen as beautiful by anyone who took the time to know you. I saw beauty and I only looked at you for three seconds. You are not only capable of being seen as beautiful, you are worthy of it. But here's the thing – very few will see your true beauty until you can see it yourself.
This brief story will help you understand that last sentence. When I attended college I often visited an all-girls apartment complex. It was a wonderful site to behold. Thirty apartments, four girls in each apartment, 120 total women. Let's just say it was my favorite place to visit!
In this complex there were all sorts of women – a supermodel who was an actual supermodel, there were cheerleaders, there were "players," there were lots of very beautiful women. There were also some average looking women. I got to know all 120 of these women. Some I gave pineapples to, a large number I held hands with, many I cuddled with on the couch, and one I kissed. One girl in particular I became friends with had three very good looking roommates, though she was not as blessed with the beauty genes as her roomies were.
As I began to hang around these girls more and more, the one who was perhaps less endowed with physical beauty (let's refer to her as Jill) starting becoming more and more attractive to me. In fact, when I was around her, I wanted to be around her more and more and I was amazed at how she was literally transforming before my very eyes. She was more beautiful every time I saw her. It was a really cool thing to experience. My mind had a distance memory of her not being the most beautiful person but my heart was taking over.
Then something changed – almost like a flick of a switch.
We were hanging out with a few people in her apartment one night and for some reason the conversation was such that it led her to say jokingly, "I'm ugly." I think I had the same reaction with you (remember I'm still talking directly to the girl at Macey's) at Macey's that I had with Jill. I was stunned. I looked at Jill and thought to myself, "I thought you were pretty, but I guess I should believe you." When she said 'I'm ugly," I decided to believe her words more than my eyes and heart. After a few days I forgot about the incident and starting seeing her as beautiful again when, lo and behold, she made another self-degrading comment. I started to see a trend – Jill constantly put herself down.
To make a long story short, I fell out of "like" with Jill, mostly because the way I viewed her was different from the way she viewed herself. I saw everything good, and great, and beautiful, but she kept stripping that away. So Macey's ice cream girl, don't put yourself down. Self-degradation is VERY unattractive. One of the beautiful things that God has done for us, is he allows people to find each other attractive. Have you ever seen a couple and thought "Man, how could anyone be attracted to him/her?" If you haven't thought that, you are better than I am. The great thing is, I really believe that they are attracted to that individual. It doesn't matter what you think you look like, when someone gets to know who you are, your beauty grows and grows.
There is a happy ending to the story. "Jill" ended up getting happily married to a great guy and at last count they have three cute kids. Things worked out great for both of us because I ended up marrying the only girl in that apartment complex that I kissed (who happened to live with the supermodel) and I know I was literally guided by the hand of God to marry her. With that said, I'd be lying to you if I didn't wonder about Jill and I. What would have happened if she believed in herself?
If you can relate to "Jill," make a promise to yourself today that you will change for the better. Start seeing yourself as beautiful and the world will follow suit!
Ben grew up in Hingham, Massachusetts, a small town 40 miles southeast of Boston, and currently lives in Lehi, Utah. He and his wife, Gina, have 6 beautiful children and he currently works as Payroll Manager at Ancestry.com. Ben also manages his daughter's YouTube channel, The Piano Gal, which recently hit 50,000 views in less than a year. He loves the power that words have to evoke positive emotion, and his aim is to have people feel something when they read his work.