Perfectly Imperfect: {My Story of Finding Self-Confidence}

If you read last Friday’s post, you may remember that I asked for thoughts and prayers for a post I was working on about insecurities and dealing with life in my twenties. Alas, the day has arrived and presented itself in the form of this post.

I won't lie, even up until last night I wrestled with the decision to publish this post or not. You see, even though I'm a blogger, I'm actually a pretty guarded person. Mostly I'm just super protective of those around me that I love, but I'm also pretty guarded with my heart. But this morning I decided that if even one of y'all are able to garner just a little bit of hope and optimism from this post, it would be worth it.

First, a little backstory: I get lots of emails each week from sweet girls in their late twenties and early thirties about dating, self-confidence and other issues. Most of the time, I’m humbled since I’m probably the least qualified person ever to be doling out advice on how to find a man or learning to love your body, haha.

Trust me when I say, I’ve had my share of train-wreck dates and fights with Spanx. I mean, let's not even talk about the time I did a juice fast and ended up bloated and a good 10 pounds heavier.  Ah, what we ladies go through in the name of beauty...

But yeah, I never imagined that anyone would find inspiration or comfort in this blog, howevs I’m so glad that some of you feel like you’ve found a place to connect, vent and seek advice from other readers. I wish I had known about blogging in my earlier twenties because I SO could’ve used the support of other ladies during some of the rougher patches in my life : )

Anyway, today I wanted to share a little of my personal battle with self-acceptance, my insecurities and how they held me back from happiness for a long time. I’m still not “over” some things and probably never will be; that’s the modus operandi of insecurities, they rear their ugly head from time to time and leave us to succumb to self-pity and other ridiculous nonsense like eating a tub of Ben & Jerry's in one sitting.

One of the things that I’ve always struggled with is my body.

Now, I’ve never had to struggle with weight and I don’t mind how I look in a short skirt. I've always had good skin and my teeth are pretty decent, (thanks to my years in braces and a substantial amount of Crest Whitestrips.) My body insecurities actually stem from scars, (or "souvenirs", as I like to call them), that resulted from a heart surgery that I had when I was just a wee little baby. Before I go further, yes, I’m A-okay today and thankfully, healthy as a horse. Or a Leslie.

Anywho, at one year old, I had open heart surgery to correct a congenital heart defect caused by a rare condition called Ebstein’s Anomaly. Go ahead. Ask your family doc if they’ve ever heard of it. Chances are, they have not.

Luckily for me though, my doctor DID know about EA and was able to fix me right up. However, back then the techniques for wound closure weren’t as advanced as they are today and I was left with several pretty gnarly looking scars all over my chest and abdomen.

You can sort of see some of them in this pic...

As I grew, the scars grew. They stretched and twisted and some of them even attached themselves to the muscles underneath my abdomen and torso, which resulted in a “caved-in” look on my stomach. Yeah, it was as sexy as it sounds…

I underwent a cosmetic surgery when I was 15 to revise some of the scars and, though it helped, I was left feeling deflated because I had set my hopes on perfection.

Well, I didn’t get perfection.

The scars were still there and I was finally faced with the reality that they weren’t going anywhere. Ever.

My sweet mom and I searched high and low for make-up to cover them, but after testing just about every cream, concealor and foundation at the make-up counter, I realized that I’d probably never achieve that flawless look that I’d always hoped for.

For years, I’d wear high collared shirts in the summer, even in 100 degree heat, just to minimize the risk of being exposed and having to explain my story to all of the kids at school. Kids can be mean and I certainly had my fair share of funny looks and mean stares when I was younger.

Finally, when I reached high school, I kind of came into my own. Boys started to come around and I began to date.

The high collared shirts became less high and I finally started to accept the fact that maybe I wasn’t as hideous as I’d always thought. In fact, as one friend pointed out one time, most people didn’t notice the one that runs right down my sternum because by that point, it was pretty faded and smooth anyway.

I’ll never forget the first boy that told me I was beautiful. We’d gone to the beach that day and after struggling to stay covered with a towel all day, I finally gave up and jumped in the water in my bikini. I expected him to gasp, but instead, he told me I was beautiful.

We dated for a while in high school and I credit him greatly for helping me to finally look at myself in a different way.

After high school, I went to college and made the pom squad. To others, we were the “pretty” girls. The seemingly perfect, untouchable girls that were on ESPN-U and dated football players.

Little did they know that I spent two hours in my dorm room before each game applying thick foundation to my chest while silently freaking out that the make-up would sweat off and I’d be exposed to all of Arkansas State University and the television viewers at home.

The irony of all of this is that during college, I worked as a commercial model and actress for TV. I did commercials for banks and Tennessee Tourism, worked as an extra in some movies and was even featured as a model on the World Poker Tour in 2007 on the Travel Channel.

But still, before each gig I’d have a little melt-down about the scars.

Somewhere toward the end of college, I developed a love for hardcore working out. I’d always been fit, but never for the right reasons. I would work out for hours on end to make weight during the pom squad days and even resorted to some unhealthy measures like eating less than 1,000 calories per day …yikes!
This time I worked out for health and confidence. I began to love the feeling I got from exercise and loved my new healthy body.

During this time, I also developed a love for fashion. I bought clothes (way too many clothes for a college girl on a budget, haha) and started to adore the way wearing a cute outfit made me feel. I decided to focus on dressing my body to accentuate my attributes rather than covering my scars. I loved getting compliments on my clothing and suddenly, the scars didn’t matter as much.

Since then it has definitely been a work in progress, my journey to confidence. I still have days where I struggle with the scars. I still cry once in a while, especially when I know I have to be in a swimsuit in front of people other than close friends or family. Just last weekend, Stephen had a group of his friends come down to go on the lake with us. Even though I love his friends and they are all very nice people, I still freaked out the night before and cried to him about having to be in a bathing suit.

What if they ask questions? What if they stare? What if they think I’m ugly or deformed?

But my sweet fiancé just reassured me that no matter what, he thought I was the most beautiful girl in the world and if they asked questions, he would come to my rescue to help ease the situation. Which is another reason that I know he is the greatest guy in the world and God made him specifically for me (and vice versa).

I frequently refer to Stephen as my angel. He makes me feel gorgeous every day. I’ve never been as confident and self-assured as I am with him. However, I think it’s important to note that this confidence didn’t come from him alone. Sure, he makes me feel GREAT and that is worth its weight in gold, but it has taken years of work to finally accept who I am physically.

The guy that makes me feel pretty every day...
via Rhyanne Ketron Photos

My advice to any of you ladies out there who struggle with self-image and confidence would be to take baby steps toward self-acceptance. Develop a hobby that you love that makes you feel good. Exercising and styling clothes helped me to focus on things other than my scars. Maybe for you it’s writing or taking photos. Just know that no other person can bring you inner peace and self confidence other than YOURSELF.

Approval from guys is awesome. I mean, what girl doesn’t want a guy to think she’s “smokin’ hot”? But honestly ladies, YOU are the writer of your story and YOU determine your own happiness. Don’t hesitate to pray to God for direction and help in accepting yourself. Ask him for strength to love yourself. It sounds cheesy, but He is someone who thinks you are beautiful no matter what. He created you in His image and therefore, you are perfect in His eyes.

And lastly, I advise you to tell your story.

Share with other ladies your struggles with weight, your issues with acne or your inability to have a perfect Victoria’s Secret model stomach. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned through blogging, it’s that there is a whole big world of other women out there who have been through it, too. Whatever it is.

"If you look closely at a tree you'll notice its knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully."

                                                                                                          - Actor, Matthew Fox

What are some of your hang-ups and insecurities? What do you do to make yourself feel happy and beautiful every day?

Be blessed, lovelies-


  1. Beautiful post from a beautiful girl! Thank you for sharing. :)

  2. This was beautifully written and worded Leslie! I even teared up a bit. I couldn't agree more with what you said about God thinking we're all beautiful. Thank you for being honest and being you :)

  3. I'm pregnant with my second child right now, and frankly, I love being pregnant because my tummy is supposed to get big and cute, and the rest of me stays the same (fortunately). I've never been skinny, my thighs and stomach are never firm, but proportionally, I look pretty good when pregnant!

    I'm unhappy with my hair, face, and clothes right now, but trying to focus on the positive figure!

  4. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing!

  5. what a beautiful post!!! you are absolutely gorgeous- and im so glad you have a fiance who makes you feel that way! my husband has helped me make leaps and bounds with my self confidence... thank goodness for those sweet boys! and ps... i actually LIKE scars... i believe that every one tells a unique story of where you have been, (and how far you've come in your case!) that being said i have some pretty ugly ones on my legs from the dermatologist, so i can relate :)

  6. Very well written.

    I went through a period in college where I had an unhealthy relationship with food and working out. I can honestly say that I have move beyond that, but there are times when I still get caught up in fat talk and meltdown about how I look. I'm a work in progress - that's basically what I said on my about me page (http://www.thestrengthoffaith.com/p/girl-behind-blog.html).


  7. Oh girl, we could talk for HOURS! I was SO painfully insecure about so many things and it ruined me for SO LONG! I am here for you and ANY TIME you need to talk lets do it! OH and ps I have a terrible scar up my entire stomach from a surgery. SO understand what you are going thru! HUGS! You are beyond gorgeous!

  8. I'm so glad you wrote this post Leslie! You are such an amazing, strong woman and you deserve every bit of your newfound happiness!

  9. i love this post. i love that you took the time to write this to all your readers and it really just makes it even easier to relate.

    very beautifully written.

  10. I had tears while reading this because I have some of the same insecurities. Sometimes I wonder why my fiance thinks of my so highly and wonder how I ever got so lucky.
    I have scars that are self imposed and that is a hard thing to get over. Thank you for telling your story and opening up. I respect you for this.

    I hope you are having a wonderful day and I love the new engagement photo of y'all!

  11. I loved hearing your story!! (or reading it, ha) i'm a new reader on your blog and I love your style and topics <3

  12. and the title of this post is honestly what drew me in at first because that's the title of my blog and how I feel about myself everyday.
    I am perfectly imperfect.


  13. Beautiful post. So glad you shared!

  14. Absolutely phenomenal. You brought me to tears.

    I absolutely love what you said about being perfect in God's eyes. I have heard it many times before but reading it just now- it hit me and made me feel absolutely beautiful.

    You are an incredible woman. Thank you for sharing your story.


  15. What a truly beautifully written post Leslie. I am so over the moon happy that your sweetheart makes you feel like the prettiest girl in the world, because you really, really are a beautiful lady inside and out. Hugs to you always friend! xoxo

  16. In Love! Such a strong and beautiful post, so glad you shared and hopefully all of these wonderful ladies feel the same thankfulness of your words. XOXO!

    Ps - fab picture of the two of you, love it!

  17. i am so happy that you shared this - you are a beautiful girl with a beautiful heart! honesty can be scary, but you never know how it can touch the life of someone else :)

  18. What a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing and inspiring! You're gorgeous in and out!

  19. I must say that I have never noticed scars in any pics of you. Thanks for sharing this!! I too have an issue that I struggle with. I sort of gloss over it a bit in my blog because i'm not comfortable sharing it but reading this makes me think that maybe someday I will come out with it just because it's part of me. I feel the same way about my hubby. He is like my angel that saves me from the bad thoughts that sometimes float around my head. You are beautiful inside and out!!

  20. Beautiful post from you, Leslie. Loved hearing about your past - I've certainly dealt with insecurities about my self-image, and it's comforting hearing someone else's story. Thank you so much for sharing.


  21. Thank you so much for sharing. I think we are all way too harsh on ourselves at times and have insecurities that can take over all of our thoughts. I am so so glad you told us your story. I think you are a beautiful and amazing girl and feel fortunate to have stumbled upon your blog and become friends across the interwebs. Thank you for being the beautiful person you are-inside and out- and for sharing it with all of us in this post.

    My insecurities have been about the physical stuff-like my freckles I used to HATE (but now love!)-to the non-physical. I used to be REALLY insecure about having come from an extremely modest background where, after my dad passed away, there were times I remember my mom, a single parent school teacher, using spare change to get gas to get to work. At my private university and law school, that's not something very common. So, I often hid that part of my life. And was really good at borrowing formals so I didn't have to buy any, as an example. And I acted like I wasn't on total scholarships and loans. I know it sounds odd to be insecure about something like that, but it was hard for a long, long time. And then I realized that it didn't matter and is what made me so thankful for everything I have that I've worked for. Sure, there was a hard stretch in my (and my mother's) lives, and I'm thankful that stretch is long over, but it makes me a better person for the perspective I've gained through that...

  22. Very heartfelt post. Thank you for posting.

  23. Thank you for sharing, Leslie! This subject of insecurities strikes such a chord with all women. Thanks for opening up and sharing.

  24. the best post I have read by anyone in a long time! Thanks for sharing. It reminds me to focus on the good more than the bad and to not stress so much!

  25. Beautiful post! Im inspiring you for opening up to such a wide audience! Bravo and You are very brave!!!

    Warm Wishes,


  26. Thank you for sharing this, I understand about being private (I'm the same way) but it's amazing how opening up like this can help other's who are struggling with the same issues heal.

    I had a conversations a few nights ago with a friend from high school about something she had gone through that I am going through right now, it was such a blessing to hear about another woman's journey!

  27. Beautiful post, and you're very beautiful too :)
    It would never change my opinion of your looks if I saw the scars!

    I know how you feel, I've been battling bad skin on my face for a good 5 years now, and only recently managed to get it a bit ok, by paying lotssss of money for laser treatments. Have you thought about those ? I know they do ones for scarring too! They could probably make them a lot less visible and make you feel less conscious about it!

    Take care, <3

  28. I have read your blog for a long time and until you just pointed out your sternal scar, I never noticed. You ARE beautiful and this post is beautiful! I just got a new scar on my neck that I was hoping would be flat and small... No such luck... I know there will be times I will wear a scarf or try to minimize it - but the relief the surgery gave me makes it worthwhile. In your case, it gave you life - and a pretty amazing life at that! Thanks for being such a blessing!

  29. This post is beautiful, Lesli! Thank you for sharing! This line is absoultely great: "YOU are the writer of your story and YOU determine your own happiness." Amen, sister! Thanks for the reminder! :)


  30. Your journey to self-accpetance is so inspiring. I'm so glad you shared, even though I completely understand your reluctance, I never know how much I want to share in my blog either. I'm so glad you are so happy now, you deserve it!

  31. This such a great post! It brought tears to my eyes! I really admire you for sharing this! I have struggled with the very same thing. I have scoliosis, and I've had two spinal fusion surgeries. I have a large scar that runs down my right side and one that runs down the center of my back. I have been so self-conscious about them and have always been so careful about choosing clothes to cover them. Swimsuits are hard too because I don't like the scars being exposed at all. I've really tried over the last few months to be less concerned about them and just accept that they are always going to be there. I still have a long way to go with that, but I'm trying!

  32. Beautiful post-i even teared up a little bit! I hope you don't mind if I share it on my blog. www.nickandlaurenjochum.blogspot.com. I had never noticed your scars and bless your fiance for making you feel beautiful!

  33. wow. beautiful post.

    I think your cute as a button and have nothing to worry about :)

    I understand though that it is all about how YOU feel, and no amount of other people telling you otherwise will change it. I'm glad to hear that you are on your way to feeling better about yourself. Because YOU are all you've got :)

    thanks for sharing with us :)

  34. I love, LOVE this post, Leslie! You ARE beautiful - but not just on the outside! You have a wonderful heart and I love how you put it out there! xoxo


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