By Haley Bougie
The summer before my 8th grade year I changed schools. At first I was angry because I would miss my old friends, but it wasn’t long before I ended up liking the neighborhood and the city. I still didn’t have friends around though, so my days were pretty boring. When school started I was so scared and nervous I didn’t know what to do. I was worried about what I’d wear, what I’d look like to others, and even more worried about where I was going to sit for lunch.
On the first day, I walked into the school looking for my first class all the while feeling insecure about my new peers looking at me and even about those being nice to me. At one point, when I noticed that everyone had an ask.fm account for Facebook, a place where you can anonymously leave questions or comments, I wanted one as well. At first it was amusing, but then people began writing extremely offensive remarks on my wall regarding my bodies’ appearance and who I was as a person. Eventually, I deleted the app but I could not forget the comments directed towards me through it.
Despite the fact that I did not know exactly who was writing the comments, I had a feeling they were from girls at my new school and I began to feel really nervous before leaving for school in the morning. From what started as an innocent Facebook App turned into a year-long downward spiral of bullying, depression, an isolating home life, self-harm and an attempt to take my own life.
Little did I know, it was after this moment that I began a life changing journey through mental health treatment. While I was there something remarkable happened. I began making friends in treatment who were compassionate and supportive who helped me to realize I was not alone. I knew that treatment had afforded me with the opportunity to surround myself with positive people who had similar life experiences. It was being there that made me better. Meanwhile, I was afraid to go back to school after the incident because many of my classmates knew what had happened. However, I was surprisingly supported by my peers. I felt that everything was going to be different.
When I was 16, all of the hopes that I had suddenly diminished when a friend and I posted a photo of ourselves in swimming suites on Instagram. The bullying started once again and I fell back into the familiar feeling of worthlessness and isolation from a pain that I did not know how to handle.
While dealing with my own bullying situation with these girls, I suddenly realized, that I was not their only victim. They were saying mean things about other girls as well. This is when it finally clicked for me that maybe it wasn’t my size or shape or appearance that was bothering these girls or any of the people that had bullied me in the past. Perhaps, they were struggling with their own identities and putting me down was something that helped them to feel better about themselves.
With that in mind I started to look at myself in the mirror and look at their words, over and over. It didn’t take me long to realize that I do not look like them and I did not want to look like them. I didn’t fit into any mold of what young women are supposed to look like, nor did I want to. I only wanted to be me. My features are different, my hair is different, my body is curvaceous, and I love it! It took toxic people to convince me that I was fat, worthless and ugly. I struggled for a long while, before I realized it was time to erase the toxicity from my life.
My weight is something that I still struggle with from time to time. My body is not the same as that of the average teenage girl, but I no longer feel the way I once did. I know that my curves are a sign of how satisfied I am with life as well as a sign of beauty, strength and maturity. Ridding my life of toxic thoughts and toxic people has changed everything. I no longer listen to what people have to say about me, because their words have no bearing on the way that I feel about myself.