I remember sitting around with some kids in school. We were in English class I believe, and I was ignoring the assignment that was given to us. We were laughing away, telling joke after joke. I was having a great time with my friends. Well they weren’t really my friends, but I sat with them because I knew that if I sat there I would at least feel like I’m noticed and that I amount to something. This was until a comment was made.
“Why do you smile so… hard?” she asked me with a disgusted look on her face.
“What do you mean?” I say.
“Well, you always smile really big and hard for no reason,” was the response I got.
“I mean… I guess I don’t know.” I reply.
We go back to laughing as I brush the comment off. Or at least I tried. The rest of the time we talked I had a fake smile on my face. A smaller one. All I could think about was why I smiled so hard and why she didn’t like my smile. When the comment was made, everyone was staring at my mouth. I started to become nervous because all eyes were on me and it wasn’t for a good reason. When I went home later that day I looked in the mirror and kept smiling. I tried to practice the perfect smile. I tried the closed mouth grin. I tried the straight faced smiled that makes me look like I don’t want to be doing whatever I am doing, until I got the perfect smile. Not too much teeth and not too little. It wasn’t my smile, but it was a smile.
I was always made fun off when I was in elementary school. Kids would always talk about my skin. Not because I had terrible skin quality, but because I was dark. Well I guess in their eyes that’s the same thing. They would tell me I look burnt. I’ve been bullied for my skin ever since I can remember. It got to the point where I began to hate my skin. I would do anything I could to make myself appear lighter than I was. I don’t do this anymore, but I still do not feel comfortable in my own skin. When I got to middle school the teasing turned into full blown bullying. They would destroy my things and throw stuff at me. I even got threatened a few times just for looking at people. I would try and look straight forwards in the halls if I wasn’t with my friends so that I could avoid eye contact. One time, some boys in my class filled up a book bag with as many history textbooks so they could and threw it at me. My back was sore for a week after that. Another time, a girl decided to play a “prank” on me. I would always bring flavored seltzer water to school to have with my lunch. One day I left the seltzer upstairs so the girl said that she would bring it to me so that I didn’t have to walk up four floors. When I got the bottle I knew that something was off. I didn’t hear the hiss of a brand new bottle being opened. There was no fizz. I smelled it and there was no sweet grape smell. It was toilet water. She put it in my bottle hoping that I would drink it. I cried in school. Then I cried again, when I got home. I hated school. I had a small amount of true friends, but again not many. All I ever wanted to do was stay home because I couldn’t figure out why people didn’t like me. I mean, I know I’m not pretty or the coolest girl in 6th to 8th grade, but why dislike me?
My self confidence is at an all time low since I’ve been in high school. It has always been something I struggled with, but has never been this bad. Coming to high school and seeing so many different people from different races and backgrounds has made me look twice at myself. Especially with what the norm is in society. I’m not saying that I wish I had fair skin and that I had a tiny nose that was slightly turned upwards, but that people didn’t want me to have fair skin and a tiny nose. Even my own race shames people of my skin complexion. So if I can’t be accepted by my own kind, how am I ever supposed to find myself beautiful? All I ever do when I look in the mirror is try and find ways to improve myself. Whether it’s getting my teeth whitened or deciding that from now on I am going to wear a full face of makeup that alters the shape of my face entirely. Sometimes I think I should dye my hair. Or cut it all off. What if I dress different? A little more girly. Maybe then even my mom will see my true beauty. Occasionally, I can’t leave the house without getting a comment on why I have no makeup or earrings on. Sometimes I purposely don’t wear these things. Sometimes I forget. I constantly get bombarded with advice or life lessons as to why I have to “look pretty everyday” so that “boys will look at me” or I’ll “find a prom date.” Why does everything that I do with my look have to be so that I’m pleasing to others? When do I get a chance to just be myself for myself? It’s gotten to the point where I don’t like what I see. At all. I often times just lay in bed wishing that I was older so that I could just get body altering surgeries so that I can look like what everyone else wants me to look like. Maybe I’ll get a nose job. Or lipo a little bit in the stomach and leg area. I hate my body. Everything about it just disappoints me. Why don’t I wear a size 2 pants? Why isn’t my hair longer? Why can’t I just grow out my nails instead of chewing on them? All of these question I ask myself because my whole life I’ve had nothing but people in face telling me that I’m not good enough.
A lot of kids have these feelings and experiences. They shouldn’t have to, but they do. Me and a million other kids sit and cry at night hoping that someone hears our call for help because we can’t find our purpose. When you’re failing classes, having daily anxiety attacks and people think you’re ugly, it just becomes too much. Especially if you don’t have a support system. This could be because your parents don’t believe that your issues are real problems or simply that you’re afraid to talk about it. All of these things I just described I am too familiar with, and it’s a really crappy way of living.
What I’m really trying to say is, kids suck. We are constantly putting each other down and not even realizing the long term effects that we have on people’s minds. We should be nicer to each other because sometimes all someone might need to get through their day is an “are you okay?” or “you’re going to be fine.” Even if you don’t really like the shirt someone is wearing, compliment it. A little gesture can go a long way. All of this remembering about the taunting about my skin, face, smile, the things that made me the wonderful individual that I was. It makes me think about what a beautiful person inside and out I could have been If I wasn’t brainwashed as a child to think that I am lesser of a person than everyone who surrounds me.