Teen actress Ciara Bravo Shares Her Journey to Confidence

Many girls have dealt with bullies — whether the teasing involves height, weight, style, or some other factor, it can be extremely damaging. But think about how many more bullies you must encounter when you're an actress and suddenly you're in the limelight (and open to commenters galore). The bully pool expands infinitely, and you must develop a thick skin. That's what 18-year-old actress Ciara Bravo did, and we could all learn a thing or two about her journey to confidence. The talented young star played an anorexic teen on the show Red Band Society and, suddenly, her fans accused her of having an eating disorder herself (unable to distinguish the real Ciara from the character she plays on TV). The naturally petite star has teamed up with Invisalign to promote their Unbrace Teen Confidence campaign — a resource for mothers and teens to explore how to deal with peer pressure, social media activity, and communication. "I am so much smaller than everyone my age," Ciara explains. "Everyone assumed I was much younger all of my life. It wasn't an easy process. It took time and understanding. It came with developing my own sense of style. Finally, I began to embrace being small and adorable. You have to find the things that make you happy about yourself," she explains. Ciara never felt like she could smile in front of people. "I didn't like how my teeth and cheeks were chipmunk-y when I smiled, but now I enjoy that. As you grow, you begin to understand yourself better. You understand what you are able to change and what you have to work on learning to love," Ciara explains. For example — Ciara learned to love her cheeks, but changed her style — a look she now describes as a mix of super girly and tomboy. Her wardrobe staples include leather jackets, thrift store sweaters, and platform sneakers. "I never had braces — I used Invisalign. It was a lifesaver for me as an actress, because the character I was playing at the time didn't have braces. I could even wear them during filming," Ciara explains. "But I don't think braces that show are bad either. If worn with confidence, they're a great accessory. Whatever your insecurity, own it. You have to say, 'This is me. Take it or leave it,'" she says.