She wore frumpy clothes. Her teeth needed straightening. She was very insecure, she believed what everyone said about her, admitting she was an "ugly duckling." She believed, however, that one's prospects in life were not totally dependent on physical beauty.
When she finally met a man who was interested in her, she decided not to take him to a fancy, social event, but instead took him to the slums of the Lower East Side, where she did volunteer work, helping young immigrants.
The young man, who had held a rich, sheltered life, saw things he would never forget -- sweat shops where women labored long hours for low wages and squalid tenements where children worked for hours until they dropped with exhaustion.
This walking tour profoundly changed the young man, moving him to say, that he "could not believe human beings lived that way."
The young man's name was Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the young woman, who changed his life forever, who would change the world forever, her name was Eleanor Roosevelt.
They would eventually marry, and Eleanor Roosevelt would become more than just a First Lady. She was nominated three times, during her lifetime, for a Nobel Peace Prize. She was a renowned social and political activist, journalist, educator, and diplomat. Throughout her time as First Lady, and for the remainder of her life, she was a high profile supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, of equal rights for women, and of social reforms to uplift the poor. She helped the Tuskegee Airmen in their successful effort to become the first black combat pilots.
Even after her husband's passing, she remained active in politics for the rest of her life, chairing President Kennedy's ground-breaking committee which helped start second-wave feminism, the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women.
They called her an ugly duckling when she was growing up, but to the world, she was a beautiful swan whose beauty inside helped her speak the truth, making the world a little better for all.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt, born on this day, October 11, 1884