THEN and NOW: Ayana G










Did you consider yourself an ugly duckling in high school?

I don’t think I would have described myself with the phrase “ugly duckling” in high school; I definitely felt like a “late bloomer.” I weighed 98 pounds on the first day of 9th grade. I was so short, skinny, and flat chested that I was regularly mistaken for an eleven-year-old, even by the age of 15 or 16. Boys were completely disinterested in my flat chest, sharp elbows, and knobby, coltish legs. Girls laughed “with” me about my training bras and the sag in the seat of my jeans. I felt invisible most of the time, and as though I was on display solely for the purpose of ridicule for the rest.


When and how did you officially “swan?”

College made a big difference for me. I made some really great friends, and I gained a pleasantly-placed “freshman fifteen”. But mostly, I just grew out of adolescence and learned to be a lot more comfortable with who I was. Once I liked myself better, the rest of the world started to come around, too.


What advice would you give to the Before you?:

I’d tell myself to hang on, and stick it out. That high school boys usually make crappy boyfriends, anyway. And that all those girls laughing at me were just as self-conscious about their big boobs and thick thighs as I was about my painfully conspicuous lack thereof. I’d promise that one day soon I would love myself to pieces, and that my flawed, fabulous body would come to perform miraculous feats. I’d give my high school self a big strong hug and tell her that she’s absolutely gorgeous. And I’d hope like hell that she believed me.

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