The Talker: `Awkward Years Project` helps others embrace youth - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Talker: `Awkward Years Project` helps others embrace nerdy youth

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A woman in Utah started a Tumblr account called the "Awkward Years Project" comparing what people look like today as an adult compared to their most awkward school photos.

35-year-old Merilee Allred is a web designer, a photographer, a roller derby player and a beautiful woman, but says she was an awkward nerd growing up.

She says, on the inside she still feels how she did as a grade-schooler: Gangly, shy, four-eyed, and unfashionable, as she puts it.

Allred realized how deep the feelings were when a friend did not believe she used to be a nerd. So, Allred sent her a photo as proof, but couldn't bring herself to send just the photo from her past. Alongside it -- even though the friend knows what she currently looks like -- Allred also sent an adult photo of herself.

She says even in a picture, the 11-year-old her needs the grown-up her to hold her hand. That's how a photography project called "The Awkward Years" began. Allred took a photo of herself literally holding her young photo.

Not long after, she found people with similar stories -- men and women who had a hard time, themselves, as kids. Either they didn't fit in or they just felt like they didn't fit in.

The photos show what they looked like then and how great they all turned out to be as adults. They're business owners, chefs, journalists, hairdressers, stay-at-home moms, childcare workers, paralegals, and one grew up to be a model.

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