The story of my Beautiful tattoo.

I grew up ugly.

For as long as I can remember I was teased for my looks. Throughout elementary school I was told by so many classmates that I was ugly, the ugly duckling, and anything else you can imagine. In fact, when I was in the 7th grade a boy told me, "You are so ugly that I want to blow your head off into a pile of shit with my 12 gauge shotgun." My Dad always told me I was beautiful but his words didn't seem as strong as all the other messages I received from kids both at school and at church. I felt that he was supposed to say that to me, after all, I am his daughter. When I was in High School my friends dad (who is a pastor) actually said to me, "Too bad you're not as pretty as your

I grew up believing this poison. I went through high school rooted in the knowledge that I am not good-looking. My biggest fear in high school was that a guy would ask me out only as a bet with his friends. I believed a guy could never like me because I am not attractive.

Instead of focusing on what I lacked, I began to develop my personality instead. I'm funny. For serious. And eventually I became really smart too. I have all my ducks in a row, my life is great and full of adventure. Yet, in my darkest moments when I wonder why I am single and fabulous at the age of 36, I believe deep down that it's because I am ugly.

Things have not changed much. In a lot of ways I think it's because when people see my old pictures they say, "You look the exact same!" so how could I have become more attractive if I look the same? When I am out with good-looking people I am invisible. I am the extra girl in the shadows.

Two years ago my friend Julie got a tattoo on her left wrist. It says, "good" in large letters. I love it and every time I am around her I want to see it and touch it. We've talked about what it means to be good, that God created all things to be good, and about how life IS good. Finally this past winter I emailed her and asked her if I could borrow her tattoo. I said I wanted it for myself. She said yes, she would share it with me. I told another friend about my desire to have the "good" tattoo and she said, "diane, find your own word."

On a cold February night I was sitting outside looking into the sky and thinking about God. I was mulling over words that define me or a word that I permanently needed to hear. I needed a word from God. I needed to be reminded of how He sees me. And this word kinda floated down to me and settled into the top of my head, "Beautiful, diane you are beautiful, that is how I see you."

I emailed Julie, who works at the tattoo shop, and told her that I will no longer steal her tattoo. I have my own word. Four days later I went into the shop and had the word "beautiful" permanently marked on my wrist.
I can't say that I feel beautiful all the time, or even some of the time. But when I see the tat on my wrist, I do smile and am reminded that it doesn't matter how men see me. I love my tattoo and am so glad I can carry this word around with me.


  1. I knew this story already, but every time I "hear" it, it gives me so much to ponder. You know I think you're beautiful, and you know I don't say things I don't mean, and you know I'm talking about more than just your looks or your personality, but your very spirit...

  2. I am without words. No, I take that back, the only word I have is APPALLED. I'm sorry you grew up with that. I can't at all fathom it because you are an incredibly beautiful person. And I know your natural inclination is to say, "Yeah, on the inside, right?" Yes, that. But the outside just as much. A silly distinction anyway, because I don't really believe you can separate the two all that much. All those good things you said about your personality...allow me to tell you most fervently that those qualities shine right through your very pores. You can't escape it, sister.

    I am so, so glad you got this tattoo. I can tell you I've been tempted to copy it, and I'll bet I'm not alone in that. (And here we all thought Julie was the hot trendsetter...ha! :)

    Seriously, there's not many people I enjoy watching laugh as much as I do you. Keep glowin', sunshine.

  3. Glad you shared this story. It helps bring you out of the shadows! I'm proud of you, Diane.

    Daniel VanDeSteeg, a male friend

  4. One of my friends grew up being taunted as ugly by girls and boys. She felt like a freak show. Of course she grew up and became a model. So Diane you are in good company, because you grew up to be lovely, and also sassy and funny and writerly. Things you may not have done if you'd grown up with the world opening to you because you had a good child-face.

    I love your tattoo. I ALSO love how you put that tattoo in your Italy pics! Il Duomo is beautiful. And so are you.

  5. Your post is beautiful.

    Thank you for sharing.

    I'm all lumpy in the throat, now.


  6. Wow, I can't believe people said that much crap to you. Well, actually I can, because I wore glasses and hated the teasing. But your friend's dad - yikes. And really, I don't understand this, as I've always thought you were pretty. You have some of the most sparkly eyes around.

    Thanks for sharing your story! I understand the stealing, because if I ever wanted one, I'd get yours. It's my favorite tat of all time.

  7. Your story resonates with me. thank you for sharing so candidly. Of course, since I don't know you, I immediately looked at your picture on your blog and you're totally hot. It's incredible the lies we so easily believe. I'm only 26 and fabulously single (and actually always have been) and the thought that it is because of my looks is like a little dwarf that is constantly running after me, shouting at me. Thanks again for sharing. Seeing how obvious a lie it is for you helps me believe more that my undesireableness is a lie as well. thanks.

  8. I completley understand and can relate to the feelings and frusterations that come from this post. I always had a little bit different of a struggle as I've always been fat, and so I would constantly have friends, family, guys I liked, even strangers on the street tell me, "oh you have such a pretty face" but say it with that sad tone of voice and a tilted head, as if to imply, "too bad the rest of you is so hideous".

    I finally learned to see myself as God sees me, beautiful not because of "outward appearances" but because of who He made me. I am so glad you have saw that too. I know it's a daily stuggle and its extremely easy to fall back into thinking God finding you beautiful is not enough. I get it, I do.

    Thank you for sharing this. It ministered to my heart.

  9. Seeing ourselves as God sees us is huge, but particularly in the case of girls and women who have struggled with this. I am a man, and never really understood this until I read "Captivating."

    But what really helps me understand is posts like this. Thanks very much for posting it.

  10. Diane, I love this! Thank you for sharing. Mitch.

  11. i love you, D. can you be sure to introduce me to the boys that said that to you? we can tie them and the boys that teased me together by their tails like samson did with the foxes... and then say "ha, look at me now!" ok, we can skip the whole lighting-the-fields-afire part and just make them Look At Us and see how beautiful you are and how, well I won't tell you what they said about me!

  12. Thank you, everyone for your kind words. It is a hard story to share and I certainly didn't share it in order to receive compliments. So thank you for those as well.

    Carrie, darling, it wasn't just boys and it wasn't just in my childhood. There will be no tying up now because Love Wins, right?

  13. I dunno, Dianita...in this case, rope might win.

    Kidding. (Sorta).

  14. well, since our culture's view of beauty is incredibly distorted, how many of us really live up to what our society thinks is beautiful? Even those who may fit the "ideal" physical beauty in their 20s can't keep it going into their 50s or 60s. Just look at the Hollywood stars who disfigure their faces with Botox or plastic surgery.

    Diane, I don't know you but I love your artsy look and think you're beautiful. And I think maybe you should write a book about your experiences and explore that subject. It could be powerful.

    I struggled with my looks/weight all of my life (and still do). I didn't get married until I was 40, and wondered if it was because men didn't find me attractive enough. But at some point I realized (actually, I heard Brian Mclaren say this), that beauty isn't about how you look, but how you look at other people.

    Love that. Now that's how I try to live my life, is seeing the complex beauty in others, and not really caring how I look. It's very free-ing.

  15. Beautiful writing. I'm sorry you were hurt like that, and glad you can write like this.

  16. I am sad to hear this, not that because of your story but because you have become a sad person.

    There are people who have lesser in life and I hope all the people in the world learn that mere life is a gift.

    "love my tattoo" inurl:.blogspot