Local woman’s awkward years project goes viral

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A Utah woman is embracing her inner awkwardness by sharing pictures from her past.

From frizzy hair to glasses and braces, Merilee Allred said, she wants to send an empowering message to the youth. Her idea for the "Awkward Years Project" was born after her friend asked to see her fifth-grade portrait.

Although it brought back painful memories, Allred decided not to shy away but embrace her past.

She posted a picture of herself on tumblr, before and after her awkward years.

"I was very shy growing up," Allred said.

Allred moved around the country with her family a lot growing up, which made it tough for her to make friends. She thinks the way she looked may have also been why she was teased so much in school.

"Besides my huge glasses that took up my face I didn't know how to style my hair and just overall I just, had a hard time with how I looked," Allred said.

Word quickly spread of Allred’s project.

Her friend, family and even strangers began posting their before and after photographs on Allred's blog.

"I had very large hair and braces and glasses and I let my mother dress me so there was that too," said Laura Summers who is friends with Allred and shared her picture as part of the project.

At a time when bullying is an emotionally charged subject in America, Allred hopes sharing her picture sends an empowering message.

LINK TO BLOG HERE: http://awkwardyearsproject.tumblr.com/

Check out  the photo gallery of fellow Utahns and their awkward photos.