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

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     I remember meeting Sara in sixth grade math. She was trying to fit in with us girls, talking about fashion and showing off her new make-up, but no one paid much attention. It’s not that Sara wasn’t nice or friendly, she was just labeled as the fat girl the moment she stepped in the classroom. As if being overweight wasn’t bad enough, we reminded her every day of her inadequate status. I can’t even count the number of times we shunned her. Our insecurities were probably bigger than hers because we took it upon ourselves to be mean to her.

There was no explanation for our malice. No one gave a second thought as to why we tortured her with obnoxious comments and intimidating stares. It just became part of our routine, and we never considered the emotional damage we might be causing her.

That year passed and then it was seventh grade. I walked into homeroom and sat next to a girl I didn’t recognize. I figured I’d be friendly and introduce myself.

“Hi, I’m Lindsay. What’s your name?” The girl looked up and my heart stopped. There was something familiar about her. Her coffee-colored eyes and my blue ones seemed to clash; our eyes locking triggered vague memories. I knew her from somewhere, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I looked at her backpack and saw her name embroidered: Sara. It took me a minute to process the information. How could it be? This girl was so skinny and pretty! I couldn’t imagine her ever being fat.

“Hi, Lindsay. How are you?” said Sara, interrupting my thoughts.

Her voice didn’t contain a drop of resentment; it was pure and sincere. How could she be so friendly after how I had treated her? Had she put all that behind her? Had she forgotten the daily torture, the mocking, and her continuous attempts to fit in, only to be put down by our sneering remarks? I felt disgusted. All these disturbing memories rushed back into my head.

Before I could respond, Sara was talking to a good-looking guy. A mind-boggling thought occurred to me: If Sara had been fat, would I have reacted this way? Would this boy even have talked to her? How could I have overlooked a personality and judged so cruelly based on appearance? Did I even realize how superficial my actions were? I was disappointed with myself, but absolutely astonished by her. By the way she acted, it seemed she had always been skinny and popular. It was remarkable how this weight loss changed Sara’s image from that of a loser to a popular girl.

I wasn’t the only shallow one. Everyone immediately accepted Sara, erasing her old image. The contrast between her social status from one year to the next was like fire and ice.

Day by day, Sara got skinnier, and she made even more friends. I would say hi to her in the hallways, but feel guilty every time. Here was a girl who lost some weight over the summer, but hadn’t changed her personality. She had always been a sweet, friendly girl but no one had given her a chance until she met the appearance expectations of the middle-school “cool” crowd.

This was the first time I realized how cruel and narrow-minded people (including myself) could be without even knowing. I became aware of the absurd link between being skinny and being pretty. Sara’s experience has taught me a lot about society’s values and the inexplicable reasoning that shapes us all. I wonder what the world would be like if we didn’t have to live up to these social standards just to gain acceptance ... I may never know the answer.

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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Bethani said...
Mar. 24, 2010 at 8:06 pm
this is so true! one of my friends is overweight and my ex-boyfriend is too. many people have been mean and not wanted them as friends or as dates because of their weight. it's awful!
 
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