Thursday, June 27, 2013
Bullying When Bullying Was PC
In about the fourth grade, just when I hit the initial frenzy that is the pre-pubescent tween girl, the changes I noticed in my body were not changes I liked. When it first began, I couldn't understand why my body seemed to be expanding in ways I did not like. That might have been because we didn’t get the “girls to the library boys to the cafeteria talk” until fifth grade, but I digress. It wasn't that I was embarrassed to start budding breasts, I just felt as though everything else was expanding as well and it just wasn't cool. In reality, although things were expanding, they were “normal” expansions and nothing that one might consider “of note”.
I will never forget the first day of sixth grade. Sitting in the school auditorium with my hair fixed “special” and wearing my best new outfit, I was ready to knock them dead at my new school. I didn't know a soul. I was terrified. Rather than find that special new friend right away who would make my transition smooth and positive, the school “bully” claimed a new victim right off the bat. In a flash, my journey to the bowels of self-esteem hell began when a little boy I had never seen before looked at me and said, "You're fat." At that precise moment, I literally prayed for the ground to open up beneath me and swallow me whole. That seemed a much better option than walking around my brand new school as the new fat girl.
To this day, I am really unclear on why this little boy, we'll call him Jack, said this me. Jack didn't know me. I didn't know Jack. (Okay, maybe a name other than Jack would have been a better choice. Oh, well, we’ll go with it.) I had never seen Jack a day before in my life. Truth is, I wasn’t fat either. Not then. And, Jack, well, he wasn’t fat either just in the same pre-pubescent hell that I was in with that little bit of left-over “baby fat”. Had I not been so shy, so terrified, so utterly shocked, I might have told him what I thought about his statement, but I did not. Because I was all of those things and more - except fat.
So, why did I let Jack's statement, that one little comment, follow me these last 27 years? I wish I knew the answer to that question. Sadly, I don't. But it does nothing to change the fact that, for whatever reason, I was utterly convinced I was fat before I ever got to that point in the actual sense of pounds.
We hear it every day. Literally, day in and day out we are reminded of the power of our words. Yet, I hear people say things all the time to and about each other that lack sensitivity. It’s amazing really. No matter how many things positive and great I have managed to do in my life, those two words from 27 years ago still have a bite. Unbelievable really but it’s just the way it is.
No lesson here really that we don’t already know. Just another step in the evolution of yet another insecure woman who learned at a rather young age to judge herself on things that did not matter and didn’t even really exist anyway. Come back tomorrow for the nightmare that is the neurotic insecurity of a teenage girl. Lord help us all.