the ugly girl

When you have been the ugly girl

the outsider girl

the awkward girl

the not invited to the party girl

the sitting alone in the cafeteria girl,

you have something that 

the girls and boys who fit in 

all their lives 

will never have.

You know how to be alone, 

and absolutely love it

because you were so isolated, 

that you were forced to love yourself.

You can walk into a room full of people 

and not care about what any of them think

because you know it can’t possibly be worse 

than what you’ve already been told to your face.

There are other days though, 

where you are alone, 

and you absolutely hate it

because the only thing that you can think about is 

what purpose there could possibly be 

for anyone to ever be so cruel to you.

You walk into a room full of people 

and get hit with waves of anxiety and horror

because you imagine that you can hear what they are all thinking 

about you and your body and your face and your hair

and the words feel like metal scraping the inside of your body.

There is so much 

that you experience 

in you own mind, 

that you don’t think anyone 

will ever understand

today, you are a beautiful woman, 

and no one you know today 

thinks of you as the ugly girl that you believe you are.

And you wish you could see you how they must see you.

They have a clean slate, yours has been dirtied by name calling and teasing.

You can’t see yourself without it

and they can’t see you with it.

No one will ever keep the ugly girl alive like you do

and no one can ever let her go like you should.


That girl doesn’t have the space to be here anymore.

That girl that depends on everyone’s opinions.
That girl that changes her mind the second someone gives her advice.
That girl that doesn’t know who she is.

And what becomes of that space inside of her is not this perfect put together woman who suddenly, magically knows who she is,
but the woman who is committed to figuring it out.

The woman that gets closer to knowing what her worth is, because she admits she has growing to do.
The woman that feels fear around following her desires but follows them anyways.
The woman who is told stories of heartbreak and failure, but has a louder story inside of her, of an unfailing trust in life.

There comes a time where choosing to close herself to her power seems like the best thing to do.
Choosing to ignore her desires seems easiest.
But she won’t.
She is a woman who has awakened, and she just won’t go back to sleep.

She knows her choices seem irrational.
She knows she triggers people.
The connection with herself that’s growing inside of her, it’s her most valuable thing, to stop it’s growth for any reason would be suicide for her.

So, nothing will shrink her love and nothing will dim her light.
With all that she has, she is remembering how unlimited she really is.
And with all that she’s lost she is unbreakable.

Listen on SoundCloud:

Self Love… in the Flesh

My first nude photoshoot. This was a time in my life, when I was finally starting to do things for me. I wasn’t going because it was someone else’s idea, or someone else wanted me there. It wasn’t to impress or please anyone. It wasn’t to prove anything. It was because I finally, finally felt unconditional love for my body, and I wanted to see my body, really see it, all of it. 

I have this memory of being in the car with my mom, we were on our way home from school, and I asked her what the word ‘anorexic’ meant. “Someone at school called me that today,” I remember saying. I was in the third grade. I don’t remember anything else about that. All I know, is that was when my long journey with being teased for being skinny began. 

“Your arms are like twigs.”

“Eat a hamburger.”

I remember hearing stuff like that a lot. I’m sure there was more. There were days when food was thrown at me in the cafeteria. I started to hate myself and my body. The kids at school thought there was something wrong with it, and I chose to agree with them. When they made fun of me, I would join in. Sometimes, I would even be the one to start the conversation about how ridiculously thin I was. I got teased for being too girly too. Which, unlike my body, I could change my identity as a ballerina, and I gladly did. That was the year I quit dance, something that I started when I was six years old, and really loved. I had beautiful long hair that went down my whole back, and I begged my mom to cut it to my chin. I would’ve done anything to change, so that I wouldn’t be made fun of.

I felt like a piece of clay, constantly molding myself to be what others wanted me to be. This was exhausting. I agreed with everyone around me and I did what was asked of me. It was hard to know who I was, and what I really wanted, because of how often I had changed myself based on people around me.

When I was in college, I started going to the gym with the goal of gaining weight. That was when I started to develop an unhealthy relationship with food, for the first time in my life. It was ironic that for about seven years I was made fun of for an eating disorder I didn’t have, to then struggle with eating after going through that. I felt like I was still 80lbs and underweight, and on those days, I would eat until I was sick. On some days, eating was all I could do to silence the voices in my mind that told me I was too thin, so I would eat for hours. Other days, it looked to me like I had gained so much weight, I would feel guilty about eating so much, and I would eat less. No one knew. I gained weight really quickly, eating entire jars of peanut butter in one sitting will do that to you. Everyone was happy for me, but I was miserable.

Every time I looked in the mirror I saw a girl who went to the ends of the earth to change herself, in order to please others.

Even though my body had completely changed, I was still playing the same memories of the past in my mind. Repeatedly processing everything that happened to me when I was younger, made me question if I even really even liked the gym. If I only wanted to gain weight to feel better about my body, and feeling bad about my body had come from other people in the first place, who was I doing all of this for? Did I even want to be more muscular? Who was I living for? What kind of body did I actually want?

In the moment, I had no idea who I was, I felt haunted every day, stories of my past played over and over in my head and I was more identified with that, than my current life. I couldn’t see that I was living in a reality where everyone loved me and wanted the best for me, because I was still mentally experiencing my past. When I would get invited to go out to eat with friends, I would physically get nauseous and anxious because I hated eating in front of other people. I spent a lot of time alone, which looking back, I feel like I really did need that time. That was my junior year of college, and I went through my spiritual awakening that year. I was really starting to heal and change. 

My senior year of college had more positive memories and self love. But, I still had challenging moments, I especially struggled with photos. On the day of my college graduation photos, I couldn’t get out of bed. I waited until the last possible minute to get ready and go to the shoot. In my mind, I was petrified of seeing what I really looked like. I mentally would see this big and ugly person, when I would imagine myself, even though I was wearing a size 0 dress and I looked absolutely gorgeous, I couldn’t see it, because of where my mind was. Seeing the pictures after they were done helped, because I was able to see that the image in my mind didn’t match the photos that were taken. 

It was hard to look back those photos, and other photos from my life, because I feel like I was numb to actually enjoying and experiencing them, as a result of where my headspace was at. When I looked at those photos, I could finally see how absolutely beautiful my life was, as well as how physically fit I was, but I knew and remembered that those were the nights I would cry myself to sleep about how I wanted to be someone else, because I hated myself. Those seemed like wasted years. 

That was one of the main reasons why I wanted to have a career where I could help people live in the moment and change the way that they thought about themselves. I wanted to be someone who could help other people love their bodies. I wanted to find people who were going through the same journey, and help them through it, because I was completely alone in mine. I never talked about it because I didn’t know how bad it was.

Everyone is hard on themselves right?
No one really loves their body that much?
That was what I would think to myself, thinking it was normal to look at myself in the mirror and feel disgust for what I saw. 

Doing this photoshoot now, meant a lot to me. I’m not sure when the change happened, but being excited to see what the pictures of me looked like, after they were taken was new for me. Years ago, when I would be out with friends or at family gatherings, I would remember feeling so anxious as the pictures were being taken, thinking to myself, “I am going to look so ugly” or “I’ll definitely look too skinny” or “I never want to see this photo” or “I need to see this photo immediately and have it deleted”. Taking photos was rarely a pleasant experience for me because of the torturous thoughts that I experienced. However, it was having photos of myself that saved me. Even though in the moment I would be negative or hard on myself, I would look back months later and think that I looked beautiful. The more often that started happening, the more often I wondered why I didn’t feel beautiful in that moment of taking the photo, and how I could help myself do that. 

I really think that most of the changes in truly loving myself came from meditation. I do a guided meditation every day that has your consciousness spend moments fully in the quantum field, where you are nobody, no one, no place, and no time. Doing this, I believe, has made me appreciate where I am, because it is an experience that has you realize that you are beyond this body, you can truly feel that, so when I am awake and looking in the mirror, I am more fascinated and loving than ever, because I truly know that I am choosing each moment of my physical life.

My meditation practice has given me a break from what I think this life is, a break from hearing the same story about myself and my body, which lead me into consciously choosing a new one. 

This new story I chose involves me loving myself as much as I can. I stopped myself more and more every day from giving my energy to self deprecating thoughts, until they were barley in my experience. I stopped putting focus on what I went through in the past, and was able to see who I am today. I took time to understand what I really want, and find a way to give those desires to myself, when I used to shun those parts of me away. And what kind of body did I actually want? In silence, I found that I wanted a body that can functionally move, and be healthy. That was it. I never wanted to look any certain way, when I really see myself, I find that having a beautiful body is something that happens naturally for me and for all people. We have these fake beauty standards stuck in our minds that tear our self image apart. We think we need to change or be better to match a certain standard, but really we become our best selves when we stop overly analyzing ourselves. For me, I realized that I never needed to stress or worry about looking good, because I naturally do. Good is a concept that exists in my own mind, I can choose what that means to me. People could call that conceded, but I spent 21 years stressed about what I looked like, torturing myself from the inside, so I believe I deserve every conceded, self centered, overly self loving thought that comes through my mind. I bet you do too. I’m making up for years of wishing my life away. I love being me, and I want to live in a world where you love being you.

Photos taken and edited by Mark Darren Photography