How Ugly Betty Helped Me Overcome My "Otherness"
Sarah Siegel is an assistant editor to beauty and shop at POPSUGAR.
In 2006, I was in eighth grade and just about exiting my awkward phase. There was a new show on TV, based off a Colombian soap opera called Yo Soy Betty, La Fea that my Abuelita watched religiously. The show, called Ugly Betty and starring America Ferrera, became my favorite, and I watched it with as much vigor as my Abuelita watched the Spanish version.
There was something about Ferrera's portrayal of Betty Suarez, a hardworking, sometimes naive, awkward young woman working at an intimidating fashion magazine called Mode, that I related to more than anything else on TV. The feeling of "otherness" Betty experienced while trying to break into the world of writing, and later, fashion, spoke directly to who I was as a young teen.
Growing up, I always loved fashion and beauty, but it was a secret few people knew about me. While the girls I went to school with always had the coolest "it" shoes (which in 2006, were Ugg boots), I clung to my limited-edition Converse sneakers, adorned with anthropomorphic ice cream cones. At home, I would secretly draw red-carpet-ready dresses and rip every outfit and makeup look I liked out of Seventeen magazine.
It was through this show that I started to believe that an awkward Latina girl could be just as good of an editor as anybody else.
Like Betty, I never felt that I fit in with the rest of the picture-perfect fashion or beauty girls. I didn't have access to the most expensive brands and wore things I liked without thinking about much else. Although I always thought that being a magazine editor was a dream job, I never thought it could be for me. I wasn't glamorous, I didn't have a great wardrobe, and I couldn't be like the cool girls who worked at Mode.
As I got older, so did Betty Suarez. Betty went from assistant to the Editor in Chief, to Editor, and I became more comfortable in my skin. Although I don't think I've gotten any "cooler," I think just like Betty, I became more confident in my abilities, even if I felt different. It was through this show that I started to believe an awkward Latina girl could be just as good of an editor as anybody else. When I got my first internship at a major magazine during college, I felt like I was in my favorite TV show. I sat at my desk and felt completely at home, letting go of all my doubts.