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Discovering That Beauty and Brains Are Not Mutually Exclusive

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Written by Liz SalokaJuly 10, 2015

From an early age I was always interested in how computers worked. When I was only 6 or 7, my dad would take apart old computers and show me how they ran, and what they were really made up of, and I was fascinated by it.

I've always been a smart girl. In elementary and middle school I got straight A's and if you looked closely, you might've seen me reading a book under my desk in class. I was the stereotypical nerdy kid with my perfect grades, small pink framed glasses, and copious acne. As you can imagine, along with that stereotype came the traditional burden of not fitting in, and I was even bullied ocassionally. It wasn’t the worst life story ever but I certainly wasn't getting along with the popular girls.

But then, around the 7th or 8th grade of school I decided that that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be pretty. I wanted to fit in. So I did just that. I traded in my pencils and calculators for eyeliner and foundation. Instead of spending hours studying, I sat in front of the computer watching makeup tutorials. I begged my mom to let me get contacts and prayed every day that I would get my braces off soon.

The summer after 8th grade I began my beauty transformation. I started wearing heavy makeup and straightening my hair every day, a process that still makes me cringe just thinking about it. But I noticed a change while beginning high school. Even though I was in honors classes, I was making a ton of friends and even getting attention from boys. My friends weren't the popular girls, we were actually the poster children for in-betweeners, but I was perfectly okay with this. I don't think I would want to be one of the popular girls anyway, I honestly loved my in-betweener status.

I was still secretly nerdy at heart. I would go home and play video games for so many hours that I still won’t admit it. However, I kept that side (mostly) hidden, because I wanted to fit in! Of course my friends wouldn't have ditched me for my nerdish inclinations and in hindsight I'm sure they wouldn't have cared in the slightest. But based on the illusion that I had I thought that I needed to keep it a secret.

Fast forward a couple years, and now I'm a freshman in college. I attend UMBC, a school known for its nerd culture, and am majoring in Computer Engineering. It's at college where I truly realized that I could do whatever I set my mind to.

After living my elementary and middle school years as the brains and my high school years as the beauty, I realized in my college years that they aren't actually separate. They are one in the same! You can be beautiful and smart at the same time. The stereotype that you can only be one or the other is utter, complete bullsh*t.

One morning a couple months ago I read a text that I got from the clothing company Wet Seal. It was an advertisement for their model search contest. I had been thinking about starting a modeling career recently, so I thought- why not. And I applied.

Thanks to my family, friends, and everyone who voted for me, I became a semi-finalist. This meant that I would have to create a two minute video explaining why I wanted to be a model for Wet Seal. At first I wasn't sure about what I wanted to say in the video. Then an idea came to me. This could be my big chance! With the assistance of this contest (and maybe Wet Seal in the future, fingers crossed), I can show young women out there that smart IS sexy. I am very passionate about encouraging women to go into STEM fields.

Voting for the contest begins soon. Hopefully I can make it to the top 25 and further impact young women. If I don't, I won't be discouraged. I'll continue to work my butt off for this cause and be a personal example to all the women I can reach out to. My mission is clear, it’s only the path that is uncertain.

I could go on and on about why we need more women in STEM fields, but there are so many articles out there who can explain it better than I can. I'm just hoping to be a voice that women will listen to and take seriously. So go out there, put your nose in a good book, apply to your dream college, brush up on your studies, and don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something. Ladies, we've got a world to change.

Submitted by WWCode Member Liz saloka

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