Why being an ugly kid was the best thing that ever happened to me.

When I was a kid, I'm pretty sure that only 2 people in this world thought I was cute...my mom and dad.

 I know this all sounds really harsh, but it was the reality. 

I was not a cute kid. 

I had those dreaded bangs  that started in the back of my head, leaving the other 20% of my hair to look like a stringy mess constantly.  I had hugely giant permanent teeth that grew in much faster than all of my classmates, and those teeth were crookedly bucked almost parallel to the ground. On top of that, I had glasses...big purple glasses that covered my blonde eyebrows exposing only my pink cheeks covered with freckles. 

I was a huge dork.

I always aspired to be beautiful, like the other girls in my fifth grade class who were developing boobs (or using Kleenex effectively) and had grown out bangs. I would have given anything to be pretty. But fate had fallen in the direction of awkward for me, so I made friends and became quite outgoing. Scrawny, ugly Jess wasn't unhappy, I'll tell you that much. 

I became super involved with dance, and I even landed a commercial for a local department store. Apparently the casting directors were looking for an awkward kid rocking double denim. Being in a commercial was a 13 year olds dream. I had never felt so beautiful as when they were applying makeup with multiple brushes and a giant poof. That was it! That was the moment I realized that makeup made you beautiful. 

As I moved into middle school and high school, my social status never really changed. I was never "popular", but I had friends that were. I was outgoing, and friendly. I had braces to fix my unsightly mouth.  I had a longtime boyfriend who always told me that I was beautiful. Life was good and I was happy, but one thing still bugged me. I just never felt pretty. Even at school dances, decked out in the prettiest gowns and department store makeup, I always felt like I was never tan enough (very fair complexion up in here) tall enough, or even curvy enough (I was rail thin). I always looked at the other girls only noticing what I didn't have, instead of focusing on what I did. 

Eventually I grew into my looks and figured out basic beauty things, like how to tweeze eyebrows instead of cutting them, and how to get my hair professionally colored. Once I found "my look" I thought I was on the right track to feeling beautiful. Upon graduating high school and attending a few years of college (attending is a bit of a stretch) I decided to go to cosmetology school to learn the art of being beautiful. I thought that I could change the world by making people look and feel beautiful. I thought that I could save humanity with one dab of makeup...after all, it made me feel wonderful, why couldn't it help others?

In those two short years of school, I learned vanity. I learned the perfect way to shape your eyebrows, extract a pimple and maintain great skin. I learned the perfect waxing techniques to achieve pin-up brows and how to apply movie star makeup. I learned how to create the perfect color and cut for your face shape. Also in that time, I learned how to make myself look beautiful, or what I thought was beautiful. I tweezed, waxed, spray tanned and perfected my look so much, that people from high school would compliment me saying things like "wow you look great", and "man you've aged well". At age 22 I was finally the cool girl that I had always wanted to be. At least, that's what everyone else thought, and that was what was important, no?

Meanwhile on the inside I felt the same. I was still my same old goofy self, even though the outside had changed. I still had my same core group of goofy friends. But I quickly found out that "beauty" has a cost. My skin began to hate me. All of the spray tans were drying out my skin and the foundation, powders and lotions all began to clog my pores. For the first time in my life, I had major acne. Makeup was taking it's toll on my naturally clear skin, but I powered through. 

At age 23 I got married, and literally 9 months later we had our first son. I learned very quickly that my 45 minute makeup routine had to change, there was no way that I could spend that time away from the baby, and as stupid as it sounds I got depressed. For the first time in a long time I felt ugly, without my makeup. After all, that was what made me beautiful, right?

Now I know that this all makes me sound like a vain beyotch, and maybe I am, but when you grow up as an ugly kid, all you want is to feel beautiful and accepted. I had finally found that and now it was gone! Gone I tell you! Not only was my body shot to heck after having this newborn, but I couldn't even put on my security mask!

That was three years ago. Now I have another son, and even less time (and money) for makeup. But you know what? I've survived. Because being an ugly kid, I learned from a very young age how to be myself. Even if I'm not beautiful by society's standards. If you ask me, ugly kids have it the best, because they have the freedom to be who they are...loud, fun, crazy, and uncaring of what others think. All eyes are always on the beautiful ones, and shoot that's a lot of pressure! While those pretty girls were all standing around on the playground so as not to disturb their makeup and faux boobs, I was running around and actually being a kid with my best friend (who was also a late bloomer in the beautiful department). Being an ugly, awkward kid has made me who I am and I am grateful for that. I mean, there's just something so endearing about a buck toothed kid smiling from ear to ear, isn't there?

Even more so, I'm grateful for those times that I was made fun of and even laughed at, because those times have given me the strength to get through life. Go ahead, make fun of me. Who cares. I've been there. 

Just recently, I've found a strength within myself and I've never felt so beautiful in my life. Maybe it's the fact that I've birthed two healthy and happy children, or maybe it's the path that my life has taken me to meet some awesome women who are superheros in their own right. Regardless of reason, I've started to embrace my imperfections and let the real me shine. I've decided to free the freckles and I'm instituting a challenge. 

Here are the rules:

1. Take a picture of yourself and share it on a social media site (twitter, facebook, instagram) but here's the catch. NO makeup, NO filters...just you in your own skin. 

2. Tag three friends that you think are beautiful, and have them pass along the challenge. 

Let's see how much love and beauty we can spread around the world! I'll start by tagging @brittanyherself @katymarg @okayallison! Pass it on! 


  1. In high school one day, I wore red Adidas swishy pants and high heeled jelly clear shoes.

    I'm only marginally better at dressing myself now at 32.

  2. I was the totally awkward kid with the wonky bangs and crazy teeth, too! Except, I still have them because my parents did *not* hook me up with braces.

    (I think you look cute as a button in your sans-makeup shot, btw.)

  3. Thanks AJ! Those bangs were the staple of our generation, no?

  4. I think I'm still the ugly kid in school! ;) Well, awkward and dorky anyway...

    I was the ugly kid as well but I didn't know it until a girl flat out told me so as the reason why she wouldn't go out with me. Man, kids can be so harsh!

    It's all good though, I have 2 beautiful daughters now so I will raise them to handle that beauty properly. I guess my wife did that though. As for the makeup free pics, I'm way ahead of you. ALL of my Instagram pics are 100% makeup free. Some may have a filter, but I generally don't use them. ;)