THEN and NOW: Roya Hamadani












Did you consider yourself an ugly duckling in high school?

I attended a very blonde, blue-eyed kind of school system. From the time I was very little, I remember feeling different, and not different good. Kids asked if I lived in a tee-pee or wigwam, for example. Rather than the girl boys got crushes on, I was the girl they asked to deliver their messages to the girls they got crushes on. By the time I reached high school, the idea of myself as a genderless nerd had firmly entrenched itself in my mind. I had very little concept of myself as a beautiful girl, and forget about sexuality. It was unthinkable. Like a yeast, I assumed I might one day bud.


When and how did you officially “swan?”

It’s been a long road. I started to realize I was beautiful in my twenties, but it was not until I turned 33 that I finally felt comfortable with myself sexually. The “swanning” was an entirely mental process – it was never really about how I looked, it was about how I felt about how I looked. Now whenever I look in the mirror or catch my reflection in a shop window, I make a point of looking for something I like, not searching for so-called flaws.


What advice would you give to the Before you?:

You are not fat. I repeat. You are not fat. And also, you are not fat. You are beautiful. Those high school boys, they don’t know a damn thing. Just wait. You don’t have to be afraid of being beautiful. It’s okay to be beautiful, not shameful or dangerous. Those news articles that your mother keeps showing you about rape and murder are not the whole story. You can hold your head high. Oh and, please think about wire frames for your next pair of glasses.