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**Ugly Girls Like Me is a true story about a little girl who was teased about being ugly and how it affected and later shaped her.** (LISTEN TO STORY ON VIDEO 4:58, AUDIO OR READ THE PRINTED TEXT BELOW)
When Nita was a little girl, it did not bother her that she was considered ugly. The only thing that mattered to her was being liked by everyone.
She was the third born of four daughters, and was considered talented because she was good at many things; like singing, dancing and drawing.
She liked the attention she was getting from showcasing her talent, which was why she would spend a great deal of her time alone, practicing the things in which she excelled.
While growing up, she would sometimes be reminded (during confrontations with other girls of her same race) that she was not appealing. Her hair was short and not as manageable as the girls who teased her about it.
There were times when Nita would overhear adults making comments like… “She’s so talented. Well the ugly ones usually are.” And comments like… “Nita probably did it. You know ugly people do ugly things.”
Eventually, not being pretty began to bother her.
Shortly after Nita turned twelve, she heard a song called “At Seventeen” by Janis Ian. The song was about a girl who was ignored and even sneered at for being ugly. The song really resonated with Nita. In her thoughts she vowed that she would sing “At Seventeen” in the high school pageant, and that it was going to move everyone to tears, and that she would be the school’s queen.
Then one day, five years later when Nita was a senior in high school, her homeroom teacher, Mr. Dufford, announced that the time had come for their annual Shamrock pageant. Nita was so happy to hear this. She remembered how she vowed to sing the song that was dear to her heart. She was excited and happy and ready to sign-up to be a contestant in the pageant.
But, her excitement and happiness quickly turned to a surge of anxiety and sadness after hearing Mr. Dufford say that the class would vote for who they wanted to run for Miss Shamrock.
Nita thought to herself “Oh no! No one likes me. How am I going to be able to run for Miss Shamrock?”
Mr. Dufford wrote the names of the aspiring candidates on the blackboard, then told the class to put their heads down and raise their hands to vote when the names were called. Nita’s classmates began snickering and laughing and saying things like “Y’all, let’s vote for Nita. It would be a trip to see her walking on stage.” The snickering did not bother her. She had hoped that they would do just that… “Vote for Nita.” She thought to herself, “If they vote for me, I got it from here.” And they did. They voted for Nita to run for Miss Shamrock.
Nita was happy again; and when she got home, she told her mom that she was going to be in the school’s pageant, and that she wanted to sing “At Seventeen” by Janis Ian. So, her mom bought the album that included her favorite song “At Seventeen” which Nita played over and over as she practiced singing the lyrics.
Soon afterwards, Nita's mom bought the music sheet for “At Seventeen” and made an appointment for her to rehearse with a music teacher, Ms. Carolyn Cleveland.
Nita’s friend, Melissa Jones, who had graduated a year earlier (in her junior year) loaned Nita her blue chiffon gown to wear for the evening wear segment of the competition. And Lorraine Hancock, a friend of the family, had loaned Nita her gray tweed skirt and jacket to wear for the business wear segment of the competition. Ms. Vivian Greene, the typing teacher, who was also head of the Modeling Club, taught Nita how to walk in the pageant.
When it came time for Nita to sing her rendition of “At Seventeen” in the "Miss Shamrock" pageant, she took to the stage, poured her heart into the song with Ms. Cleveland grandly playing the accompaniment on piano.
The audience was moved to tears.
That night, Nita won Grand Talent and Miss Shamrock.
Later in life, Nita realized that it was okay if she was not liked by everyone. And it no longer mattered to her whether others found her appealing or not.
What Nita had gone through in her childhood years helped shape her to be who she is today… someone who is passionate about enriching the lives of others by sharing her gifts and talents to make the world a better place.
Nita, also known as Anita Cullum McCants is the founder of The Tactile Vision Board (A Vision Board for the Blind) and The Vision Notebook (Write what you Want, Then CREATE the Life You Want)
“Ugly Girls Like Me” is also on audio and video, narrated by Brenda Janelle McCants.
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