Ah, the awkward years. Although a lucky few escape them, many of us went through some years that we wouldn’t be terribly upset to erase. But the truth is, those are the years that built the most character and helped shape us into the wonderful people we are today. For me, it was 7th grade. My family moved and I started middle school at a different school across town from all of my friends. Most of the people entering this school already had friends from elementary school and I was the odd one out. It didn’t help that I chose this as the year to pick out my own clothes and only wanted to wear over-sized alien T-shirts. As one of the youngest people in my grade, while many of the girls around me were growing breasts, wearing make-up and starting to date, I was still playing with Barbies and watching the Disney Channel. Needless to say, making new friends was not very easy for me, but somehow I found an equally awkward girl in all of my classes, who is still to this day, my best friend.
Like many of us, designer Merilee Allred also had some unflattering years (hers is the picture above). She started a project called The Awkward Years Project, where she photographs happy, confident people, who have grown into themselves, holding a picture from the most uncomfortable years of their lives. Aside from the photo, she invites participants to share their story from those embarrassing times and how it shaped them into the people they are today.
Allred is also taking user-generated submissions, so if you were a fashion victim or hid behind gigantic glasses, braces, or acne for awhile, share your picture and your story on The Awkward Years Project Tumblr. You can see more of her work on her website and follow her on Twitter.