To the Boys Who Bullied Me in Middle School: I'm Finding My Worth
The reason it took me so long to write this is because it is very personal, and I was afraid of being judged, but it something I wish to share because I know I am not the only person who has been bullied. Many people are bullied in their lifetime, some more intensely than others. The way I was bullied wasn’t extremely blatant to me at the time. I didn’t label it as bullying. The things said to me were blunt and rude but always done in a joking way. It wasn’t until I sat through several therapy sessions that I realized I was bullied and it had had a significant impact on my body image and self-esteem. Writing has been a way for me to say things I could never say in person. It is time for me to let this go. I will never forget it, but I need to forgive them. So, these are the words I want to say.
To the Boys Who Bullied Me in Middle School,
Yes, I still think about the things you said, even though you probably didn’t give your words a second thought. They have haunted me for a long time. I would have never called you a bully at age 12 because you were boys. You were people I was taught to impress. You called me fat. You called me ugly. You made fun of how slow I ran. It wasn’t creative, but it didn’t have to be. I equated all of those words with worthlessness.
Society taught me to try to be pretty and thin to attract the male gaze. Just becoming a teenager, I began to find boys attractive. At the time, I may have thought some of you were cute and wanted your approval. A smile. A compliment. You called me names. All I could think was, I want to pretty and thin like the other girls so boys would like me. I would finally feel worth something. It never ended.
In high school, I received some taunts from you still when we crossed paths, but they slowly faded away as I faded too. I became nothing in hopes of impressing you and every other boy I knew.
If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.
You probably matured and realized your stupidity, however, I thought your taunts stopped because I was now thin, and thin was beautiful. I went into treatment for my eating disorder and realized the only person I need approval from is myself. I have to love the person looking back at me in the mirror. The things you said to me didn’t mean anything. You probably weren’t even thinking when you said what you said. You were ignorant middle school boys. No one taught you to hold your tongue.
I hope you realize now that what you did when you were young significantly affected me. Teach your children not to say mean things to others because words actually can hurt. Your words still affect me today.
Now in college, I now stand next to boys preoccupied with the idea that they disapprove of the way I look. No, this isn’t the sole reason why my self-hatred developed along with my body dysmorphic disorder and eating disorder, but my middle school days definitely play a part. It will take me a long time to fully internalize that I have to love myself. I can’t wait for the day I feel comfortable in who I am and no longer seek validation from others, especially men.
Thank you for making me stronger. I have come a long way since my self-loathing middle-school self, and one day I will be where I want to be.
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