From Our Readers
Updated August 04, 2015 7:58 am

I’ve always been a perfectionist. When I was little, I wanted my stuff to be organized in my room (there was a huge difference between my room side and my sister’s, messy side). When I started going to school, I wanted to have the highest grades possible. I wasn’t satisfied with a B+, I wanted an A.

I’ve always felt the pressure to be perfect, but this pressure never affected the way I felt my body, until I started attending high school. In high school, especially if you are a girl, you are likely to start being judged with new parameters: the size of your jeans, the length of your legs, the measure of your chest and your butt, the clothes you wear. When I was 15, I didn’t really get all of this, but, as a perfectionist, I started thinking that I had to try my best to suit all those ideals.

I could write pages and pages about how bad I felt during those years, when all that mattered to me was to be perfect and to be the prettiest one for everyone. I spent so much time on things that, looking back, weren’t really important to me. But I prefer to skip to a recent incident, where I finally understood what I was doing. It was my last year of high school when I was talking to a friend of mine, a guy, who was talking about girls. What I soon realized is that he didn’t remember any of the girls he was talking about for their ideas or their intelligence or their temper. No. He was talking about their ass, their boobs, their thighs. I don’t know how, or why, but a quote from JK Rowling I once had read suddenly came to my mind:

I started thinking: do I really want to be remembered for how I look? Do I really want “skinny legs” to be the first thing that comes up to someone’s mind when they pronounce my name? The world is full of pretty girls, and there is always going to be someone prettier than you, at least in the conventional sense. What we should be going for isn’t being “pretty.” It should be something weirder, deeper, richer, full of gleeful imperfections and contradictions: It should be beauty. True beauty, the kind that comes from within.

I hope that when I go on job interviews or on dates, people will notice me for my intelligence, my courage, my honesty, my loyalty, my being open-minded. I hope they won’t think “she’s so pretty.”

And so, I stopped worrying about being the prettiest one and I started working on more interesting things: my passions, my interests, and my hobbies. In the end, those are what makes us unique and worth-knowing. Thanks, JK Rowling, for reminding me.

Anita Debernar is a recent high school graduate from Italy. She loves books as much as she loves people, is obsessed with television, and plays guitar and piano.

[Image via Shutterstock]