Sitting on the living room floor, flipping through old photos, I realize that I could have learned to appreciate myself entirely. What a shame that I was caught up in what society deemed beautiful.

My insecurities started when mom met George. Soon after they started dating, mom introduced George to my twin sister, Sabrina, and me. It didn’t take long for George to throw cheap compliments to my sister about her beauty. He encouraged mom to enter Sabrina in beauty pageants for more money, but mom never budged. She didn’t want to give me a complex; but it was too late, George already planted the seed.

With every compliment George handed, Sabrina murmured a quick “thank you.” It was telling that she was nonchalant about the attention she received. I wonder if it was just as telling that I craved it. A fraternal twin, yes, but was I really that unattractive?

As for Sabrina, she didn’t know how ugly I felt standing next to her. When we went shopping together, guys approached her repeatedly. Unfortunately Sabrina was never interested in them, so she’d motion them my way. She didn’t realize how awkward it felt when they took one look at me and walked away. I could never muster up the courage to tell Sabrina how I felt. Even then, a part of me hoped that one day a guy would actually go for it and take a chance on me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Sabrina, and she loves me too. I just found it difficult to see past her beauty since so many others honed in on it.

One night while writing in my diary, I confessed to my imaginary world of admirers that one day I’d be prettier than Sabrina. Convinced that my ugly skin was God’s curse, I became fixated on solving my problem. I became desolate in my interactions with others. I stopped smiling, because I knew that my smile wouldn’t be as pretty as Sabrina’s. I didn’t even look at people when I spoke. I didn’t see the point in it. They knew that I was the ugly duckling in the room. My life was spiraling downward and with each passing day I resented life.

By the age of 22, I was beyond envious of the attention Sabrina received. I was trained to look at her with a more critical eye. Everyone thought she was flawless, but I knew, oh so well, that she wasn’t. When the cellulite started to appear on the back of her thighs, I was in the background silently rejoicing. Too bad I was the only one who had noticed. When she stubbed her toe on the bottom ledge of the bookshelf, I was there to watch her peel the nail from the skin. So sad that the manicurist was able to replace it; making it appear normal again.

Eventually, I learn that all the faults and imperfections I knew about her didn’t really matter. I needed to find another avenue to outshine her if I were to be happy, too. While searching the internet one day, I came across an advertisement offering beauty enhancements. I skimmed through the long list of testimonials, and came across a woman’s story that was similar to mine.

She developed the same ugly duck syndrome compared to her four older sisters. She claimed that the subtle beauty enhancements that she received gave her the self confidence she needed to finally get from under her sisters’ shadows. I wondered if that would help with my insecurities. I was gamed to find out!

When I arrived for my consultation, I felt at home. The woman at the front desk was very pleasant and the waiting area generated a relaxing atmosphere. I was surrounded by women wanting and waiting to get something “fixed.” I felt extremely comfortable being in that room – it was my kind of crowd. For once I felt that Sabrina would be the outcast. Guess I should’ve invited her along.

After speaking with the plastic surgeon about my options, we came to the conclusion that I would benefit greatly if I received a new nose and fuller lips. We also discussed a few minor changes I can do at home with my hair.

Shortly after my surgery, my mind toyed with the beautiful image that I would see after I removed the bandages. Since my old image was an eye sore, I was anxious to envelope the new change which was supposed to change my life forever.

The moment finally arrived! The swelling had gone down and my confidence shot through the roof. I was the woman I envisioned. Prettier than Sabrina? I didn’t know but I was anxious to find out.

The first person I went to show off my new look to was Sabrina. I wanted to see her reaction to my transformation. Surprisingly it wasn’t what I expected. I thought she’d be envious, but she wasn’t! She was really excited about the transformation and even offered up some of her clothes. Of course, I didn’t take them. I was done living in her shadow.

To make a long story short, I love my new look but something happened the other day. I ran into an old college buddy who hadn’t seen me since before I got the procedure. During our conversation he said “You know, Taylor, I loved the way you looked before.”
When I questioned why he never showed interest, he replied, “You appeared to be more of a challenge because you carried yourself in a conservative manner.” Then he mentioned that he remembers Sabrina always wearing provocative clothing which made her easier to approach.

My mouth dropped. I was shocked. Images of Sabrina and I growing up flashed through my mind…and he was right! She loved to wear short skirts and tight clothes. So, all of this time, it wasn’t necessarily her beauty that I was in competition with, but rather a perception.

Reminiscing again, my old photos lie spread out in front of me. Sadness covers me as I wonder how beautiful I would’ve looked “naturally” without my enhancements. Were they worth it? I think….Maybe not. If I was beautiful then, I could’ve been more beautiful now – without the hefty medical bill!

I recalled the times when I would softly whisper and tell myself, “I’ll be pretty one day!” Little did I know those days were days I should’ve cherished more closely.