Got An Embarrassing Old Photo Of Yourself? Post It Online & Celebrate “The Awkward Years”

Awkward Years Project

Ever look back at yourself, say, a few years ago and cringe at your hairstyle, outfit and shoes? You’d rather forget about it right? Well, along comes a brilliant website asking you to dig out that old conversation starter and post it online for the world to see. Not even joking!

It is a new online social media experiment started by founded by Merilee Allred (pictured above with her awkward pic) and it is appropriately titled ‘The Awkward Years Project’.

“It’s definitely intimidating, but it’s liberating,” said 35-year-old Merilee Allred, who launched the Awkward Years Project when she posted her own embarrassing fifth-grade photo online in April.

She herself was a shy kid who was bullied at school, and called herself ‘Queen of the Nerds’, but fast forward to today where she is a successful web designer based in Utah. She started the project in hopes to liberate others from being haunted by their past and feel confident in who they are. Unfortunately, some people have such a traumatic time during school and college days that it still affects their self-esteem into their adulthood.

Aside from posting her own pictures online for the world to see and embrace, Merilee is asking for anyone to submit their own pictures to the website also. Her message to teens is this: life does get better!

“It’s about bullying and self-confidence,” she said. “I want to let those struggling know that they’re not alone. They’re great people in the making — they’re already great. I just want them to know that.”

The idea came about after a friend of hers couldn’t believe the beautiful blonde was a frizzy-haired teen who wore glasses and braces. After showing her friend the photo and asking her not to show anyone else, she realized that being affected by her past was something she, and many others needed to be free from.

So far she has received submissions from around the United States and around the world form places like Japan, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia and England! Wow, I guess having that awkward teenage phase transcends all cultural and geographical barriers. Good to know.

“My goal is to make this blog fun. I want people to be proud of who they’ve become. I want youth, especially those who are currently going through a rough time, to know that they are great people in the making.”

“I want to show them that their lives are only just beginning, to see their potential, and to not let bullies get to them. It’s the differences that set us apart from everyone else and we should celebrate that. Great and many things are in store for all of us.”

Channel ABC4 in Utah featured Merilee and her website in a news story, and keeping in line with the idea of the website, the station anchors also brought in their own awkward photos to share with viewers. Seems like this is a great movement for both men and women, as evidenced by the many posts on her website which you can see below.

But just a word of warning from Ms. Allred, this blog is not about boasting how “cute” you are now, or saying that having glasses, braces and frizzy hair makes you ugly. It goes deeper than just physical appearance. The blog is about self-discovery, self-acceptance and being proud of who you are both back then and now.

So what are you waiting for? Start uploading those pics today and free yourself from those long-haunted insecurities.




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