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Cause and Effect This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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My BMI is 19.7; I'm not even close to being overweight. Still, I cannot bring myself to wear a bikini. I monitor my weight religiously and avoid fattening foods. If my weight goes up at all, I sink into depression. If I lose even a pound, I am ecstatic.

It is difficult for those who haven't experienced bullying to understand how much bullies can dominate the lives of their victims. A bully's best weapon is his or her ability to make victims feel completely worthless. This was a slow process; for me, it took a few years.

First, the boys in my class began to taunt me. They called me fat, ugly, and retarded. I pretended to ignore them. “Boys don't matter to me,” I announced confidently. That was a lie. Of course their opinions mattered to me. When my crush told me he didn't find fat girls cute, I felt like curling up in a hole and dying.

Girls can be subtler than boys. They never insulted me to my face. They just stopped talking to me, one by one – first the popular girls, then my best friends. The teacher would tell them to invite me to play. The girls usually complied, rolling their eyes and making me feel as unwelcome as possible.

The tacit approval of the girls emboldened the boys. One boy kicked my ankles whenever I participated in class. He was expelled when he pushed me into a pond in sixth grade. My classmates held a good-bye party for him during lunch, which I was not invited to; one boy explained that my attendance would be awkward. I sat alone on the playground, wanting to go home.

Was my lowest point when my mother suggested I invite a friend to the movies, and I couldn't think of a single person who would accept? Was it when I couldn't make myself throw up and cried because I wasn't even a competent bulimic? Perhaps it was when my exasperated teacher told me to stop bothering her at recess and play with kids instead.

I was convinced that if I just lost weight everything would be better. I now know that it wouldn't have made a difference, but my mentality is permanently changed. I can't eat without calculating the calories. I can't pass a group of snickering girls without pulling down the sides of my shirt, sure that they're laughing at my hips. I feel so ugly when I see the girls from my old school that I literally walk blocks out of my way to avoid passing their houses.

I am cringing at the thought of anyone I know reading this. I am sending it only because it is important that people know this: bullying affects victims for years afterwards. I will remember these events for the rest of my life.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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TeacherofWriters said...
Dec. 18, 2012 at 8:30 am:
I am sorry that you have had to go through this experience, and I am impressed that you have the maturity and depth of spirit to have learned so much from it, and become a better and stronger young woman.  Here's a thought, though advice was not solicited. Sometimes, it is easier to show love to others than to yourself, but showing love to others who may embody the things about yourself that make you uncomfortable, ironically, can make you more comfortable with your own body. Try th... (more »)
 
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alwayssunshine This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 13, 2012 at 8:01 pm:
I know I don't know you, but I just want to say that I'm sorry for what you have had to go through. The next time you look in the mirror, try telling yourself that you love yourself for the way you are. The first time, it's hard, but then it starts getting easier. You are a beautiful person for sharing this story, and you have greater things ahead of you than merely wearing a bikini.
 
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ejaz said...
Sept. 26, 2012 at 3:27 pm:
Is this just an essay or it really happened with you?
 
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Mrniceguy said...
Sept. 9, 2012 at 1:51 am:
Does it really matter what everybody thinks? Sometimes yes it really does, but most times no. I think you need a great friend. One that will share good laughs with you. Even though we may live nowhere close I'll be that friend for you if you would like.
 
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