My whole family is a buncha hairdressers. Hence my inability to do my own hair in any form or fashion. Hence my freaking out about getting someone who’s not my mom to cut my hair.
Do you all remember when they instituted the “natural hair color” rule in schools? They said that your hair had to be a natural color (black, red, blonde, brown, or some variation of those). They said it was too distracting to have some color that wasn’t one of those previously mentioned.
However, I somehow managed middle school with orange hair one year. Purple hair another year.
How did I end up so normal? (Ha ha, I’m not normal).
This made me think about bullying during these ages. Was I bullied for having weird colored hair? Not that I can remember. I can’t really remember being bullied in school. I’m sure there were incidents in which I was left out of something, or felt like I was weird or not cool (because, heaven knows, I was not cool).
But I do remember the first and only time someone has flat-out called me fat. I remember everything about that moment in time.
As I look back at pictures of myself when I was younger, I was an awkward, sort of lanky kid (even for being so short). So, I don’t know why I let this moment seize a part of my memory forever.
I was outside behind the school one day after classes had ended. I had gotten some money out of my piggy bank before school to buy myself from peanut M&Ms while I waited for the bus with my friends.
Behind the school there used to be a makeshift playground with swings and a pavilion. The whole area was fenced in with one of those chain link metal fences. When your bus pulled up, you were supposed to line up at the fence and wait for the teacher on bus duty to lead you out in the parking lot to the bus.
I was really into these platform tennis shoes (thank you, Spice Girls) that had pink and silver foil-like designs on the side.
Note: Mine were not near as drastic as this.
And I had on a silver velvet, mock-neck, t-shirt. I thought this shirt was awesome and made me look like a space cadet.
There was a girl whose name I’ll omit. She rode the same bus as my friend Kristy. She had the reputation, not of a popular girl, but of someone who could beat those girls up.
She looked like a chihuahua, gnarly and thin. Hair messy, too much make up on for middle school. She was older than I was.
She strutted up to me while I leaned against the fence, waiting for my bus, and eating my M&Ms.
Let me have your M&Ms.
No, I used my own money for these.
She tried to wrestle them out of my hands, and I dropped the package. They spilled all over the ground.
We were both upset over the loss of the M&Ms. Me, because I’d bought them myself, and her, because she wanted free M&Ms.
It was hot outside, and I remember feeling the beginnings of sweat from the sun and the struggle over the candy.
She crossed her arms, and the fence clinked as she leaned against it.
“You’re fat,” she snarled.
I looked down at my disgusting self. I sucked my stomach in.
“No I’m not.” I sounded a little desperate. I looked around for my friends to confirm my affirmation of myself.
They stood there silently.
I tried really hard not to cry. (I’m a hurt feelings crier. I don’t cry when I’m mad. Not really when I’m sad. But I cry when my feelings are hurt. Not many people see me cry.)
It’s sad that I let that be a defining moment in my life. Instead of all the weird dance moves I made up with my friends. Or my favorite book that I felt defined my life at that time. I let someone else mark in my memory a negative feeling toward myself.
So, now I’m going to reclaim my awkward, skinny, middle school self.
I was cool with my multicolored hair.
I was cool with my platform sneakers, weirdly baggy pants, and velvet t-shirts.
I was cooler than I thought I was.
I was nicer than I thought I was.
I was and I am awesome.
All this mutual bullying among girls needs to stop.