One hundred and seventy-six years ago, back in 1843, the highly praised children’s fable author, Hans Christian Anderson, wrote a story so relatable to everyone in society that it still resonates with us as a commonly used phrase nearly two centuries later; The Ugly Duckling. The story is about a baby swan that ended up being mistaken for a little duckling. Of course, the little swan didn’t fit in with his duckling peers, neither in his looks or behaviors, because he was never meant to be a duckling in the first place.
Being marginalized for the way he was different his whole life, the ugly duckling was sad and lonely, until one day he underwent a magical transformation and became a graceful swan. Now, he was the prettiest bird on the lake and everyone wanted to know him. Sound familiar?
It doesn’t matter if you popped out of the womb looking like an angel from Heaven. The truth is that every person on the planet has to move through the sometimes hellish stages of growth in their life, and we all have those goofy, ugly, awkward phases. If you don’t think this applies to you, then you listened to much to what your mommy said because trust us, nobody looks amazing every single second of the day.
Sadly, though, a lot of people don’t see their early years for the transformative journey it’s meant to be, and they can easily get depressed when they feel like they don’t fit in. Fortunately, one subReddit is working to change the way people perceive themselves by showing off their before and after “ugly duckling” images to prove to the world just how much change one person can go through. Whether it’s over the course of a year or a decade, these 40 pictures prove that no ugly duck should ever lose hope of becoming the swan they were always meant to be.
1. “4 years between the photos. Used to really dislike how I looked but slowly and bit by bit I started to treat myself a lil nicer.”
It’s no wonder it is so easy for people to get down on themselves these days. The struggle is real for sure, but the ones who suffer through that awkward phase of figuring themselves out will find out that with a little self-care their ugly duckling phase will fade away into their own unique beauty.
2. “17-22. My hair doesn’t look like a bad wig anymore.”
This little duck took her skills all the way to the max, even dressing up as cosplay character Poison Ivy… and totally nailed it! We can definitely see why.
3. “11-21… my dad used to call me ugly Betty, and I took it as a compliment”
Clearly, though, a little confidence and good contact lenses can go a really long way in improving your self-image.
4. “Life begins at 40! 25 –> 40”
Just ask this lady who is just starting to understand how awesome life really is at 40!
5. “Age ~11 to 20 – I owe a lot to contacts, braces, filling in my eyebrows, and my hairline somehow growing forward.”
6. “17-24, went through horrible cystic acne, lost 50 lbs, got braces, and dropped an emotionally abusive boyfriend.”
While losing the weight probably helped a lot with clearing up her skin, dropping the weight of the aforementioned boyfriend is what really did her wonders. No duck is so ugly they deserve to be abused!
7. “14 to my 19th birthday. I grew up a little bit”
8. “12 to 20, I promise I was always a girl”
9. “14-23 it’s been an awkward decade for me”
So, expect yourself to take on a million different looks, styles, and ideals as you move through life because it simply means you are living it to its fullest, just like this lovely duckling has!
10. “Twenty years later…still need the big glasses!”
11. “Grew into my chin… and my ears… and pretty much my whole face (12yo me vs. 22yo me)”
12. “12-23 puberty and private dentistry.. and let’s not forget fake tan and makeup get a lot of credit here!”
13. “Age 12 vs 29 (now). At least I had time to work on my personality!”
14. “10 years difference. Ages 13 & 23”
This girl may think of herself as a former ugly duckling, but time has proven she struck it rich with the genetic jackpot! Just look at that smile!
15. “Headgear girl with 4 bangs –> Teacher Miss Morgan. To all former and current ducklings: keep smiling!”
Headgear is not only the fastest way to grab a bunch of taunting kids’ attention, but it also hurts like hell to wear, and sleep? You may as well forget about it.
Moral of the story; there’s never a reason not to smile and have some hope that things will only get better.
16. “I think 16 to 21”
17. “Age 14 to 19. Lost some weight and gained some confidence along the way.”
It takes a lot of effort, time, and self-reassurance that you have every right to be yourself. When you master that, you will blossom just like this guy.
18. “13 vs 21. Lost the glasses and stupid fringe”
Her perfect jawline and cheekbones coupled with her flowing locks have all her Reddit voters screaming “SWAN!”
19. “19 to 21”
20. “17 to 21. Acutane and some weight loss made a huge difference!”
This young man fought through it, though, and worked hard on himself until he became the handsome face you see today. Dude gets all the kudos!
21. “What 10 years of makeup, self esteem, and effort can do to 2 ugly twins.”
22. “15 to 23. No makeup for a better comparison”
23. “12-20. Losing weight and learning how to do my hair helped a bit”
Now, she’s an inspiration to others and helps them figure out how to go from ugly duckling to gorgeous swan, too!
24. “19 to 20. I would like to thank my dermatologist.”
25. “From Sundaes to Runways; I grew up quite a bit from 17 to 21. Bonus pics in the comments!”
According to the ginger hottie, he gives credit to calorie counting, cardio, and weight lifting. We give him all the credit for consistency, though, and actually managing to pull it off!
26. “14 to 19”
Fortunately, this beautiful babe believes in herself enough to try new things and grow on her own, sharing her self-discovery with others through social media. Her choice to be braver has really paid off though, and the last five years have been very good to her!
27. “I’d like to think the past 9 years have been kind to me. 15/24”
28. “7 years apart.”
Oddly enough, however, she says in the comments that she used to have more confidence when she was 15 because no one expected her to look like the bombshell she is now on a daily basis. We hope that one way or another, though, she gets her confidence back full throttle, because that’s what makes her really stand out.
29. “10 years cancer free! 12 to 22… In the midst of death, to my wedding day.
With no hair at one of the most self-image-obsessed times in a girl’s life, and not knowing whether she would even live to see the age of 13, the young girl in this picture smiled as big as her face would allow. That, in and of itself, is the purest form of beauty there is!
30. “My boyfriend doesn’t even look like the same person (16 to 21)”
It is amazing what confidence it can give you just to take a chance on yourself, especially when you start to see those first results coming in. Whether it’s losing weight, practicing your socializing skills, or even just refusing to let negative thoughts rent space in your head, working on yourself will always yield the greatest rewards!
31. “I don’t even look like the same person anymore. 17-22.”
This 22-year-old stud muffin worked hard to lose the baby fat left over in his face and the weight loss even helped tighten the hood of his brow for a more open and welcoming appearance. While he was never really an ugly duckling, he is certainly a swan now!
32. “18 to 23. Puberty hit me like a god damn freight train.”
33. “Thank God for the Orthodontist, me at 10 & 18.”
34. “A slight change”
35. “13, 15, 20, and 27 years old.”
The important thing to remember is to never give up on yourself and keep pursuing the best version of you that you can possibly imagine. Keeping that mental image fixed in your mind will give your transformation all the fuel it needs to become your reality.
36. “12 to 22. Middle school was rough.”
The original poster’s pictures now, however, are hard proof that even the ugliest duckling holds the potential to transform into the most beautiful swan in the pond!
37. “From 18 to 23. A completely different person now.”
These images show that it is never too late to take an interest in yourself and start working on your health and happiness!
38. “11—>30 braces were good to me.”
If you don’t feel comfortable with your teeth, you smile less which makes you appear less friendly. As a result, you end up missing out on all sorts of social interactions that can make you feel like you belong and give you greater confidence over time.
Thankfully, this ugly duckling’s transformation can now show the rest of the world that even if you get dealt a crappy hand from the gene pool, if you play your cards right you could still end up with the best hand in the house!
39. “16 to 24… I still dress like a boy on most days…”
This girl, for instance, probably had no idea how much she resembled Bran Stark from Game of Thrones before her unbelievable transformation took place. Looking back now, though, she sees it all too clearly.
40. “From 17-20. Near the point of suicide and something clicked in my head one day.”
This man’s photos should be a huge inspiration to anyone considering taking their own life. If you just stick it out and start working on the things you don’t like about yourself, your happiness will grow by orders of magnitude!
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