Goodnight,  On Being a Woman

That Senior Portrait

I love seeing everyone’s senior portraits! Right now lots of my friends are posting their senior pictures in honor of the class of 2020.

I was blushing reading some of the comments on my photo. Funny how they don’t know the real stuff that was going on, I thought.

High school was really difficult for me. Not the academic part. I loved the learning part of school. But it was the social part that was really tough.

There was a lot of pain in my life back then. So I wrote a bit about the real life of the girl in this pic . . . hoping that it will encourage you–or at least shed some light on the stuff high-school-aged kids are going through.

That girl — senior year, 1997.

She may look pretty confident. In some ways she was. She had grown to be confident in God. She knew how much God loved her.

But confident in herself? No.

While she liked this picture, she still believed that she was ugly because she would never look good enough to be a model. She would never have her face in any of the teen magazines she read.

No one told her she was pretty. Boys didn’t ask her out. So she believed she was not attractive.

Just four years before this picture was taken, 8th grade, she cried herself to sleep every single night. Her teeth were so crooked that she didn’t want to talk or smile. Her parents couldn’t afford to get her braces. She wore glasses—with bifocals because her eyes were so bad.

In 9th grade, she worked and saved and bought herself contact lenses. She got braces—the result of begging her mom every day. She went to ballet classes after school, and got straight As. Perfection seemed like a good goal.

In 10th grade, her best friend broke her heart, and overnight, she had no friends to belong with at school. She went into a deep depression. This was the season when she experimented with skipping meals. Would anyone even notice? She still had to go to ballet class every day with her ex-best friend, but they no longer drove together or talked. ever.

In 11th grade she got her braces off. She made friends at church, and asked her small group to pray for her because she was struggling with self-loathing and controlling food. She made a new best friend at church. But at school, she sat in the library during lunch and did her homework.

This photo was taken just at the start of 12th grade. The night before this photo shoot, she put her hair in pink sponge curlers because that seemed like the thing to do. She prayed that the pictures would turn out well, but only had about 3 percent faith that they would.

When she plucked her eyebrows like this, her mom told her she plucked too much. That night, the girl in this picture wanted to die so badly that she planned out her suicide.

God stopped her. He saved her from the lies she was believing about herself!

In 12th grade, she fell in love with a Christian man that was too old for her, and he broke her heart.

Read the full story in my book, Goodnight to My Thoughts of You.

You never know what is behind a smile. It may look like someone’s life is easy or perfect, but you never know what people are going through. You never know.

I used the Internet for the first time in 1997 for a school project. It took about 5 minutes just to dial up, and 2-3 minutes for each new page to load. If I didn’t know the exact web address, it didn’t work. The Internet seemed pretty dumb and useless to me.

Now, 23 years later, I upload this photo on the Internet and within a day, dozens of people tell me I was pretty. But was I? Or was this just a really good photographer? And does it really matter what people say on the Internet?

Tell me: how do you raise a young girl to know she is beautiful but to not be vain?

Did you struggle with self-confidence in high school? What was that like for you?

What was one valuable thing you learned when you were in high school?

Dear God, please fill us with confidence, truth, and love today!

Love and Hugs,


I pray that she always knows she is beautiful, that true beauty comes from within, and that she doesn’t need to wear makeup to look beautiful.

“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

Proverbs 31:30

Chelsea Rotunno is the author of Goodnight to My Thoughts of You, a novel about life as a Christian teen searching for true love.

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