Beauty is something more then makeup, skincare, hair, weight, clothing, etc… Beauty is within us and all too often that message can get lost.
Here at A Beauty Loft, we focus on outer beauty related issues, but I want to take a moment to discuss our belief that beauty starts on the inside. Bullying has become an epidemic and has singlehandedly been the culprit of pulling the inner glow and beauty from within individuals. Bullying has the power to drive them to self destruction, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, depression, isolation… the list can go on and on. In one sentence- bullying is causing individuals to hurt themselves and others… we have to find a way to stop it. This is a very serious matter that is close to my heart so I would like to do my part in attempting to help stop it by sharing my story and how I rose above my bullying experience:
I personally was at the receiving end of torturous bullying for over 3 years in high school. Now as an adult, I think back to how juvenile it all was and can brush it off, but it was quite the contrary as a teen. I was bullied by 7 girls in the grades above me from 9th grade through 11th. To this day I can name each girl and each moment they affected me.
In the 9th grade I was walking down the packed halls of my small, suburban, mid-west high school with a girlfriend and heard some commotion behind me. I looked over my shoulder to see a group of girls laughing, but thought nothing of it. Moments later, I was being pushed down a stairwell only to crash at the bottom along with the multiple classmates I had taken down with me. At the top of the stairs I saw the same group of girls laughing, but again, really thought nothing of it. Not more then 5 minutes went by before I was cornered at my freshman locker by these very same girls that, at the time, I couldn’t name if you paid me. I had no idea why they were there, who they were or what they wanted with me. They kept screaming in my face things like “do you know who I am b*#!h?” along with every derogatory name they could muster up. Conveniently, this happened during class change, so you can imagine the plethora of faces I had staring at me.
I would like to backtrack for a moment and mention that the night before this all happened, I had unexpectedly lost my great grandmother. She was one of the dearest and most special people in my life, one that to this day I mourn the loss of daily. Needless to say, when these events took place I was in no position to put up a fight. I was completely baffled and already so drained; they ‘smelled the blood’ and came in for more.
I do not recall how the screaming and shoving at my locker stopped, but it didn’t stop for long. About 15 minutes later, the girls appeared in the locker room as I was changing for gym. They, along with a few faces added to their posse, cornered me to continue with the screaming and name calling. I broke down and I started to cry. I wanted to know why were they bothering me and who they were. The fact that I finally shed tears excited them. I begged them to stop. At this point a friend of mine had chimed in something along the lines of “leave her alone, she lost her grandmother last night”, but they thought this was hysterical. I very clearly remember one of them saying “good, now she doesn’t have to deal with you anymore”. I cannot remember another time in my young adult life that I was more confused and alone then in that locker room.
From that day on, I walked the halls of my high school in fear of what was going to happen next. Often, they screamed awful things at me with full hallways. They threw their lunches at me, followed me to sporting events after school and harassed me there too. I, at one point, had an entire stall in my high school bathroom dedicated to calling me awful names. I would often hear from friends that there was a new phrase or curse referring to me. Many times, the school would paint over the black permanent marker, but it would be back in just a few days. I often missed school or went to the nurse’s office just to get away from it. My parents came to the school, my mom came with me to the sporting events, my father threatened to sue, but it did nothing. The girls started coming into my work where they knew I had to be kind to them. There, they would make their comments knowing I had to smile through it for the sake of my job.
One day it did stop. After 3+ years, I finally had enough. While I was walking the empty halls, the ‘ring leader’ of this girl posse was perched on a railing with one of my male classmates. She pulled her usual name calling routine, but this time I did not just keep walking and hang my head. I finally screamed back. I let it all out and let me tell you; the look in her eyes showed her fear. This look was no doubtably the same look they saw on my face the day this all began. The difference between her and I? I didn’t get pleasure out of her fear. I simply wanted to be left alone. This was they day it all began to stop. Word must have spread amongst the girls because the bullying dwindled quickly. When they got brave and tried for a bit more, I fought back with a vengeance (figuratively, not physically).
In the middle of my 11th grade year, I was finally free. It stopped. I still get angry when I think of all that they did to me, but I am grateful. Their torture made me stronger and taught me to be heard; to stand up for myself. I went to years of therapy to gain back the confidence they so successfully took from me and can now look back with pity for them. I might get angry on occasion, but I wish them well. We were kids and obviously their parents did not teach them compassion and kindness. I sincerely hope they never have to comfort their child who is at the receiving end of bullying.
Following my run with these girls in high school, I participated in a group called Project Love that worked to bring awareness to bullying. I spoke at convention centers to teens, did TV shows and mentored others going through it. This was 10 years ago. I am saddened that it has taken this long for those at the receiving end of bullying to finally find a voice. I could not have gotten through this rough time without the help of my high school social worker/counselor Beth, my family and the few friends who stuck by my side. I want children/teens to understand that there is help out there and, while it might feel like it, they are not alone. Children and teens are getting hurt, they are harming themselves, they are harming others. It has to end and the severity of bullying needs to be heard. The only way this will stop is to talk about it. I am a stronger woman today because of my experience, but not everyone comes out that way.
Beauty begins inside of us, not with mascara or lipstick- those delicious indulgences are just there to help make our smile and the twinkle in our eyes stand out more!
My sincerest ‘Thank You’ for reading,