Growing up in the 1980’s I was slightly obsessed with the show Beauty and the Beast. The beast, played by Ron Perlman, loved Halloween. It was the only day of the year he could go out in public without people mocking him or becoming terrified. On Halloween he could be himself and walk proudly in his skin. I completely related to his character because I struggled to find comfort in my own skin. I grew up in Southern California, Orange County to the exact, where fat girls are often made to feel like beasts.

Related: I’d Rather Be Fat Than Unhealthy

This photo was taken Halloween of 1997 when I was a senior in high school. I remember wanting to be a sexy devil but not feeling confident in anything besides jeans. Now, 17 years later, there’s so much I want to share with this little beauty and her yellow boombox.

Halloween 1998Dear Jenny,
You are adorable! See those curves, they are a blessing not a curse. There is nothing wrong with your body. Your body will go on to do magical things like grow a perfect little boy who will completely change your life.
I wish you could stop fearing that no one will ever love you. A man will come into your life who will make you feel like a princess. Yet, he won’t be able to love you, until you start learning how to love yourself. Trust me, finding yourself is so much more important than being held by arms that only leave you feeling empty.
I know how much you doubt yourself right now. Never feeling like you can belong or be accepted. You won’t believe where life will take you and the lives you will touch. You will stand before 200 women and teach them how to love their bodies. I know that sounds unimaginable but it will happen.
While things seem difficult right now, they will actually become even harder. Yet because of that, you will become stronger than you ever thought possible. Through that strength you will find your beauty.
You are amazing!
(the woman you will become)

I now realize I needed to embrace the beast I thought I was in order to become the beauty I am today. Tonight I’ll be wearing jeans once more, playing my best role yet…Mom.

Share within the comments below what you’d go back and tell your teenage self.

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