Gracefully Damaged

January 29, 2013
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I down the water and my throat is soothed by it. Arielle, who’s right next to me, snickers loudly. I remove the water bottle from my lips, feeling ashamed. There was water all over my face. “You sloppy pig!” Arielle says in disgust. This only makes everyone else laugh harder. Their laughter vibrates around me like an echo.
There are 20 girls in my dance class, and 19 of them were laughing at one of them: me. All of them have thin tall bodies, flat stomachs, beautifully arched feet, elegant arms, and long, toned muscular legs. Arielle has the tallest thinnest body, the most beautifully arched feet, the most elegant arms, and the longest toned muscular legs.
And then there is me with my fat, short body: beefy arms, flat feet, round stomach, and short thick muscular legs.
“Class, get back in here,” Miss Stein says in her sharp clear voice, ringing with the all too popular French accent. We shuffled back into the studio and I could hear my fellow dancers whispering about me. I could hear them and their words pierced me like hot knives:
With every word they said, my self-esteem slipped lower and lower until I started to believe them. Sure, I knew I was fat. I had no idea why, though. I ate healthy and exercised outside of class but I could never lose the weight. However, I had always thought of Miss Stein’s corrections as learning experiences and not as insults.
So as soon we started our jumping combination, I listened to her corrections and tried to see them in the way Arielle saw them.
“Jump! Jump, Miss Jones!” Miss Stein commands, rapping her stick to the floor in emphasis. “You’re such a klutz, it’s a wonder you’re still dancing! Pointe your feet, you should be playing football not dancing classical ballet!”
This was too much for Arielle and she burst out laughing and her posse of friends joined in. I gritted my teeth, finished the combination, and walked to the back of the studio with my head down so no one would see my eyes tearing up.
It was too much for me hearing Miss Stein praising Arielle. “Good, good. Beautiful, Miss Jacques!” so I did the only logical thing it seemed for me to do: I got out of there. Miss Stein didn’t bother to say anything about it. She had been waiting for this moment and it had finally come. Before I closed the door to the lobby, I heard Arielle say, “Weak!”
I got on my phone and called my mom. “Mommy, please come pick me up,” I wailed, “I don’t want to do this anymore!”
Mom was there within a matter of minutes and I collapsed into her, telling her everything. About how Arielle was always making fun of me and how Miss Stein was constantly insulting me and pointing out my faults.
“Oh honey, why didn’t you tell me?” she asked finally.
“I-I couldn’t,” I said, “I was scared and I had hoped it would eventually get better.”
It hadn’t gotten better and my mom knew it so we just quietly got into her car and left. We left behind my dream and my lifetime goal. We left behind all my hopes of achieving that goal. But we also left behind two bullies, Arielle and Miss Stein, who were now probably basking in my sadness but would never be the same without me to torture.
This is what bullies do. They go after people and try to make them feel bad about themselves. In my situation they succeeded. So if ever you find yourself the victim, the bully, or the bystander of a bullying situation, just remember what can be accomplished. I hope that no one will ever have to resort to what I did.

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