Janis Ian is a Grammy award winning American singer-songwriter who had a number of number one hits in the 1970’s and 80’s. One of her hit songs was At Seventeen. The lyrics are a deeply moving comment on “beauty” and the ways we treat those considered “ugly”.

I learned the truth at seventeen
that love was meant for beauty queens
and high school girls with clear skinned smiles
who married young and then retired
the valentines I never knew
the Friday night charades of youth
were spent on one more beautiful
at seventeen I learned the truth

And those of us with ravaged faces
lacking in the social graces
desperately remained at home
inventing lovers on the phone
who called to say – come dance with me
and murmured vague obscenities
it isn’t all it seems at seventeen

To those of us who knew the pain
of valentines that never came
and those whose names were never called
when choosing sides for basketball
it was long ago and far away
the world was younger than today
when dreams were all they gave for free
to ugly duckling girls like me

 

Source: Lyrics from Janis Ian, Seventeen

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