This month’s speaker shares an insecurity which I believe a lot of us can relate to: being judged based on appearance. It takes a lot of guts to share a story like this one. I suggest that you don’t try to guess who this student is, don’t give into judgement, just read.
During my first term at KIS, I had an experience I will never forget. I was playing freeze tag with my friends and this boy and I had an argument. He said he had tagged me but I said he hadn’t. And then he went, “Yeah, you were tagged you fatass.”
I remember that day because I ran into the bathroom and I started crying. I didn’t stop until my friends found me in there and were really weirded out by it. They weren’t sure what had upset me so much.
I didn’t tell any teachers about this because first, he had used foul language and I thought I would get into trouble for it. And second, I realised a very important fact about people: you never know what they are capable of doing. One second they are your friend and the next, they’re not. So I didn’t tell the teachers.
I thought this problem would go away but then more people in my class started calling me names. They would say things like, “Oh, she’s so fat,” or “She’s so ugly,” or, “She doesn’t deserve to have friends.” I even heard some of my own friends saying this and I got really irritated. I confronted those girls about it because I wasn’t afraid of them. I told them they could say whatever they wanted to but I wouldn’t care about any of it. I told them that I had a bright future ahead of me unlike them, and I didn’t want them to drag me down.
Then in Grade 5, it happened again.
It was a lot worse than before. A boy sent me a text saying that one of my good friends was on a Skype call with two other boys talking about me. They said, “Her skin is so dark, it’s the colour of cocoa and so ugly.” They also said, “She’s so fat and she doesn’t deserve anything.” They talked about how I would act like I was so amazing. They said I was cancer. I still have the recordings on my phone.
It really hurt. You don’t say that about people just because they’re a little bit different than you. I would spend hours crying in the bathroom, being upset at myself. I didn’t tell my parents because they would have made a bigger deal about it. And I know that I should have told them because they may have gone through it themselves and they were my parents! But I couldn’t. What my parents may have gone through was nothing close to what I went through.
Today, I’m not fat shamed so much. No one really says stuff about me anymore. I mean, I can still hear people whispering about me wherever I go. But at least I’m getting better. I visit the doctor frequently to learn how to create a healthier lifestyle for me. The thing is, it’s not just a case of “Oh she’s fat because she eats too much.” No, it’s something I’ve lived with as long as I can remember. My parents have photos of me and I was a big baby. Even when I was four, I was the biggest. I was the biggest girl in every class. There was no one else who was even close to the same size as me.
And it hurts because all of my friends, they’re all so pretty and so skinny and sometimes, I just kinda wish I could be like them. Even during class, if I have to weigh myself to calculate my BMI or something, I feel so uncomfortable because I don’t want to know how much I weigh. But my friends have no problem because they have no fat on them. My size makes me a lot more scared of playing sports. Everywhere I go, the students on the team are like sticks or they have perfect curves. They don’t have lumps on them or anything.
I feel like everyone in KIS is skinny and everyone is pretty and then there’s me who sticks out for all the bad reasons. Sometimes I feel that I don’t deserve to live in this society because it’s so perfect and I’m the one imperfection.
I wish that our school was a little bit more inclusive about the way peoples bodies are- but I can’t do anything about them because everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Every day, I see other girls getting messages from boys saying things like, “You’re really pretty, want to hang out?” But me? I never get anything like that. I look at my phone and the only messages I get are either Snapchat streaks or LINE messages from a group chat. I know it sounds like I’m being superficial but sometimes, I wish that boys would notice someone based on who they are and not what they look like.
When you’re fat, people will pressure you to go on a gluten diet or a vegan diet, or tell you, “Don’t eat that much!” I’m sorry but I’m not going to listen to what you say because you are irrelevant. You’re not in my body and you don’t know what I struggle with. Maybe I look like this now but that doesn’t mean you get to judge or criticise me for being a little different or having a different insecurity than you might have.
Don’t judge people based on appearance. Appearance shouldn’t matter. It’s who you are and what you are that matters. I found it really hard to get over my size. As you grow up, you learn more about yourself and what you’re capable of. You learn more about your body. You know how to be a better person because you know how to change. You learn how to adjust your mindset. People who struggle with imperfections are way happier with themselves because they learnt how to deal with them especially if they had it with them for their whole life.
Yeah, I may be a little bigger but does it matter? No! Because I don’t care. I don’t care what you say. Screw you. I don’t have to be the smartest or the prettiest or the skinniest or the most talented. I don’t have to be that because that’s not who I am. I am weird and loud, and I also like sports but I’m not very good at them. I don’t have perfect skin. My hair is quite ugly. I’m stupid but I’m funny. I’m talented but I’m not that talented. I’m all of that. Just in a different body than most other people.
Whoever you are, wherever you come from, we all have problems and insecurities and this is mine. I’ve learnt you have to be comfortable in your own skin to be comfortable everywhere else.
As our society is growing, we’re more open now to talk about disabilities and insecurities. We need to learn how to talk to each other appropriately. You don’t talk to others like they’re someone stupid or worthless. You talk to others because you are a human being and they are a human being and to some level, you are able to connect.
At least one person is like you in the world and at least one person will have the same problems as you. You are not alone. You’re not alone unless you want to be alone or unless you say you are alone. Unless you accept that for yourself.
If you are struggling with the same insecurity as me, I want you to remember this: No one has a say in who you are- not your parents, not your teachers, not your friends. The only person is you. Don’t be pressured to be someone you’re not just because of your appearance.
No matter what you do and who you are, no matter how ugly you think you are, you truly aren’t. No one is ugly unless they believe it themselves. Start with yourself. The only way you will become beautiful is if you tell yourself you are.