Dare to Be Different: The Beauty of a Girl

boaw-logo-2015-originalThis post is part of the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest 2015.


I still remember her name. Not because we were friends. She was a senior while I was a freshman in high school. Sure, we were both in the flute section of band, but she was first chair and I was way back in the second row hoping to make my way up to the front row someday. My dad knew her dad, but that didn’t make us cohorts. No, I remember Deirdre for one thing in particular: being different.

Different in appearance.

I don’t mean she bucked the trendy stuff and went all rebel—she wasn’t emo when everyone else was hipster. She didn’t conform to a different standard or subculture. She didn’t even seem to make a point of standing out, but she did.

Why? Because she was essentially her own trend.

Her hairstyle wasn’t the fad of the day. Her fashion was fun and quirky (and really nothing I saw on the racks, so I wondered sometimes how she did that). Her demeanor was confident, without being “hey, look at me!”

And I think about her sometimes. Because if I had to do high school over again, I’d be like Deirdre.*

I wouldn’t copy her fashion. Rather, I’d own my own version of beauty. I’d wear what I wanted, choose a hairstyle I liked, walk with a lot more confidence. I’d dare to be different. I’d be me.

Girl with interesting hairdo with flowers on it + blog post title

I’d choose a look that made me feel good about myself—whether it matched or clashed with current expectations.

Instead of worrying what designers said was “in,” I’d consider my body shape and dress to show it off. Instead of wasting hours with home perms, curling irons, and Aqua Net hairspray (the thing at the time), I’d let my straight hair be straight. Instead of comparing myself with a taller girl, a curvier girl, or just a prettier girl, I’d look in the mirror and take stock of my own assets. Instead of wallowing in self-doubt and body-image issues, I’d lift up my chin and walk with confidence.

I’d own my beauty.

Knowing it was unique to me.

I don’t have high school to do over again. Instead, I have these days to dress how I want, choose the look I want, walk with the self-confidence I now possess.

And I can encourage young girls to do and be better.

Young ladies, when I see you all in the school parking lot with the same hairstyle, I wonder who had to wrestle and wrangle with hair products, tools, and self-criticism to get that look…and if you ever want to do something different.

When I see a fashion trend catch hold, and school hallways filled with the latest thing, I wonder if you all love it for what it is…or if you ever want to wear something different.

When I hear you criticize your appearance and complain about your hair, makeup, body shape, or style, I wonder if you believe that down deep…or if you ever want to believe something different.

Believe in your beauty. It’s there—inside and out.

And go ahead. Dare to be different. Dare to be you.

When you’re my age (yes, a long time from now), you’ll be glad you did.

~ ♀ ~

39 thoughts on “Dare to Be Different: The Beauty of a Girl

  1. I love this, Julie! Dare to march to the beat of your own drummer. Such a powerful message. We grown ups forget that lesson every now and again, too. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. I don’t think I had the courage to be different when I was in high school. One of the things I love about aging is the courage that has come with it. Thanks for sharing this message … so meaningful at every age!

  3. Amen, Sista! I believe. Good for you for taking the high road and encouraging everyone to be unique and to embrace their uniqueness. God bless Deidre!

    Great post, Julie!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  4. Love this, Julie! YES! We need to embrace and celebrate our differences–and teach our young ones to do the same–girls AND boys. My little one goes to school in stripes & polka dots, long skirts and ankle boots. Why not? She’s smart, fun, funny, out-going, kind, and loving. All of these things–including her funky style–make her beautiful ❤

    1. You go, little one! I love hearing that. I sometimes see little girls express themselves, and then they reach around junior high… *sigh*

      I just want to encourage young women to keep seeing the beauty in themselves and show it! Thanks so much, Kate. Keep that girl in her funky style!

  5. Oh I wish I could go back and spend less time fretting over dressing like everyone else. I wasn’t too bad, but I had my moments. What a waste of time and energy.

  6. Fab post, Julie! I agree with Jess – what a waste of time and energy! Think of all the wonderful things that could have been done, learned, explored …by being ourselves. Thanks for sharing this. I hope we all find our inner “Deirdre.”

  7. A lovely post, Julie, and timeless. As you so thoughtfully point out, we cannot go back but we can be beautiful right now. Stand in our truth. If every young person could do this, oh the beauty of it. Thanks, Julie.

  8. Great post, Julie! It’s so sad that girls and young women so often feel like they have to conform to the latest style or trend, whether it’s flattering or not.

    Your post reminded me of a comment on a student’s anonymous evaluation of me as a teacher a few years ago. She said many good things about my teaching but then commented that my hairstyle was outdated.

    I was a little hurt, a little angry and a lot saddened by that comment. My hairstyle is fairly classic, long and curly, and yes, I’ve worn it this way for years because it’s the style that looks best on me. Why she felt the need to comment on my hair while evaluating my teaching was…disheartening I guess is the word. Even sadder was the fact that this young woman apparently believed that everyone should wear their hair in the latest style. *sigh*

    Hopefully things like August’s wonderful BOAW blog fest will eventually change this attitude for all women, young and old.

  9. what great advice, Julie. I find myself still caught up in the ‘right things’ like the need to be professional, or formal or…take your pick and I know you know what I mean. thanks for a thoguht provoking post

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