This is BULLYING AWARENESS MONTH on The Y94 Morning Playhouse. We are asking members of The Playhouse Family that have dealt with bullying to share their story to let others know that it does get better.
Young or old, bullying is never ok. Share your story by emailing Zero at email@example.com
All names can be changed to protect the author's identity --
This is the story of Ashley --
I moved a lot as a kid. I stopped counting after we’d moved 32 times. The first school we moved from, I was the queen bee of the “popular girls.” I was smart, witty, blonde, skinny, and athletic. We moved when I was in the fourth grade the first time. I was sad to leave, but wasn’t that worried about it. After all, I was popular, what could go wrong? Karma had other ideas.
In the new school I was a nobody. I couldn’t make a friend to save my life. I quickly learned the other side of all the teasing, exclusion, and bullying. By fifth grade, I was the kid who sort of “fringed.” By this I mean that I didn’t really have a clique that I belonged to, but I had a few acquaintances here and there. Since I didn’t have any friends I stopped going out for sports, and then the internet and video games were suddenly everywhere. I found I was good at both. These things combined with soda placed the last nail in the coffin of my incredible unpopular status. I gained weight. I got to about 250 pounds as a fifth grader. I didn’t really know or care about the consequences; food had become my only friend.
I usually spent my lunch and playground period in the library. One day, I received a note that said Tim, my crush, wanted to take me to the Halloween dance. I didn’t believe it, after all, I’d had enough exposure to Hollywood and the cruelty of kids before, so I was skeptical. I approached Tim out in the field where they were playing football and asked him if he knew who wrote the note. He said he had Nick deliver it to me because he had better handwriting, but that he had indeed wanted to take me to the dance. So he asked if I was accepting. I couldn’t believe it! I sputtered out a shy “yes” and scrambled away.
I couldn’t get home fast enough to tell my mother about what had happened. We celebrated by going out and buying a costume. We went with a red sequin dress complete with horns, tail, and pitchfork, and I would go as a devil. Considering how picked over the costumes were, I thought the dress was a great find though I wasn’t a huge fan of the costume itself.
Tim’s parents picked me up from my house. Tim was dressed as an evil wizard and looked great. We joked in the car on the way to the school how our costumes sort of went together. I took it as a sign that things would really be OK from then on. We arrived at the dance and Tim, being the most popular boy in school, made sure our entrance was noticed. I immediately went back to my old behaviors when I was Queen Bee and had a great night.
Everything was going amazingly when a slow dance song came on. There was a wandering spotlight and Tim asked me to dance with him in the middle of the floor so the spotlight would hit us often. We danced like any other fifth grade couple- swaying back and forth- but then he put his arms around me and pulled me in close, trailing his hand lightly down my back. He was making a move! My mind started racing, what do I do? Do I kiss him? Do I just stand there? Then the spotlight hit us, and my dress hit the floor.
Everything went into slow motion.
The spotlight was still on me, baring my body to the entire class. You see, since the dress was sort of tight and daring, my mother had insisted I wear only a thong, no bra, so nothing would show through. I was basically naked in front of everyone. Tim stepped back and said loud enough for the entire gymnasium to hear, “what made you think I’d go to the dance with a fat, ugly cow like you?” All the kids laughed. I spun around, leaving my dress behind me, and left the gym. I cried, running all the way home.
When I got home, I threw out everything that would keep me the way I was. Twinkies, soda, donuts, chips, cheese sauce…I think I must have thrown out about $400 dollars worth of groceries. Mother was furious the next day and I was grounded- no internet or video console for me for a week. This was fine by me. A fire I’d never known had been lit inside me. I was determined to change.
I started running every day. At first it was only a few light posts, but soon it became a half mile, and then a full mile. We moved again and I kept running and eating well. I lost the weight and by the time high school hit, I was running in pageants, taking home crowns and titles.
It was probably the most embarrassing moment of my life, and I hold a special hatred for bullying now, but in a way, I have to thank Tim, because without that awful event, I might never have found the drive to change. For those of you who read this and can relate, whether it’s being left out of sleepovers and clubs, not having many, if any, friends, or if you are like I was and you’re the chubby kid in school, please, don’t give up. Things will get better if you allow them to. You’re worth the effort, and you are loved.
With warmth and light,