I started doubting the beauty of my physical appearance when I entered middle school. I remember walking into a room full of students for sixth grade orientation and being laughed at by a bunch of girls and boys because I didn’t dress like them (Talk about a way to start school. Sheesh!). Middle school was probably one of the worst times of my life. Let me give you some backstory…
I went to a predominantly “white” school where I was a minority. The majority of my friends were white, my family actually used to tease me because I talked “white,” or proper, according to them. But I did really well in school and had a lot of friends, just not a lot of friends who looked like me.
When I transitioned to middle school, the demographic was completely different. There were WAY more kids of other nationalities, including African American (which is what I am, if you haven’t noticed already). So, I was a fish out of water. This was not at all what I was used to experiencing. I was teased because I didn’t sound like the other black girls. I was teased because I didn’t dress or wear my hair in more current styles like theirs. I was EVEN teased because I sat completely straight up at the lunch table when other kids preferred to slouch. This practically went on for ALL of my middle school experience.
I remember none of the boys liked me, for one, because I didn’t look like the other little black girls and two, because I didn’t have a body like them, either. I was what you’d call a “stick.” Undeveloped, no breasts, no big butt, nothing. I remember the boys pointing to poles outside, asking “What does that look like? KIM!” and start laughing. When you combine being skinny with already being awkward because kids thought I acted like a white girl, it was a complete nightmare.
I even remember family friends used to tease me. They’d pick up two drinking straws and say that’s how skinny my legs were. One time they even threw some straws out of a car on a group trip and said they were throwing me out of the car. Talk about cruel. I’m sure they were just poking fun, but kids are impressionable. Especially middle school kids.
I had no self-confidence at this point. So much so, I allowed kids to bully me, take my lunch money or any other stuff I might’ve had that could’ve been of value. I was so afraid to say or do anything in retaliation and I felt so low. I never really talked about it with my family, I just kinda lived through it. I became okay with being invisible to everyone else because if I was invisible, at least no one would bother me. I graduated middle school feeling like a “nobody” and unattractive. So, I could honestly tell you I wasn’t looking forward to high school if it was going to be anything like what I had just left.
To my surprise, high school was completely different! I wasn’t ever Prom Queen, but I was more accepted and a few boys found me to be cute, so I felt a little bit better about myself. I ended up doing cheerleading and dance, which helped to get me out of my shell. I also had a different circle of influence because most of my classes were honors or gifted and talented, so I made friends in those classes and they seemed to be able to relate to me more.
However, I can say that even as an adult, I still struggle with my self-esteem. I don’t always feel like I’m the “prettiest girl in the room.” I have a mom-bod now, and hey, it comes with the territory. Every now and then I can feel myself sliding into the slump of the sixth grade Kim, where I’m just not too sure of myself. In those moments, I have to remind myself that there’s only one me. I’m not perfect, but who is? I am loved and accepted today for who I am and that’s enough for me. And eventually I’ll get back on my treadmill so I can be a MILF, but today I’m okay with my muffin top!
What’s the lesson here? Sometimes it pays to be nice to others. Compliment another woman if you like her shoes or her bag. You never know, that might’ve been just what she needed to smile.
Peace, Love & Light