The Ghosts of Insults Past

Lately I was looking at old pictures from middle school and high school. I remember thinking during that time that I was so fat and ugly. I was bullied and teased quite a bit for being overweight.

A group of boys, whom I had gone to school with since kindergarten and who had transferred with me from private to public school, referred to me as “babe,” as in Babe the pig, from the film, behind my back.

One thin, popular girl made fun of my larger backside during middle school basketball practice. I would have two words to say to her if I saw her now – Kim Kardashian.

In middle school, I was climbing over the chain-link fence at my aunt’s house and the ass of my pants got stuck on the top rungs. So I hung there like Mary Martin in the stage version of Peter Pan. While someone went to get my uncle and dad to lift me off the fence, a neighbor boy saw my ripped pants and bleeding backside and said “gross.” Thanks, kid. Thanks a lot.

Another kid bluntly told me “you’re fat” while passing me alone in the hallway while I was wearing a chicken costume for a class skit. By then my confidence was so shaken that I just said “I know” in response, rather than sticking up for myself. Oddly enough, seven years later I would be in a car with him and three other people while another girl who had been teased relentlessly confronted him.

A friend’s mom told me that I looked good when I had makeup on.

I went through middle school and high school measuring my self-worth by these and other comments. I wore baggy clothes to hide my curvy body. It got to the point where I lacked confidence so badly that I would remain silent when in the presence of the majority of my classmates. I graduated from high school with many of my classmates likely believing I was mute and had zero personality. As an adult, one would think that the situation would improve but it doesn’t always. Some people carry their ignorance into adulthood.

On my first night in London during a university trip, I had a stranger make disparaging comments about my size on the Tube in front of friends. I immediately clammed up while my friend started to yell at him. It ruined London for me because that was all I could think about the rest of the trip. The embarrassment and how hot my face felt while he was speaking.

A family member said that we had a flat tire in a family van because that was where I had been seated. I cried silently in the back seat during the entire two-hour drive home.

The comments from those children and adults have stayed with me, once creating a crumbled confidence and self-esteem that I have worked hard to build again through my own experiences and accomplishments. The amazing part is that when I look back at the pictures from those time periods now I realize that I was never as fat and ugly as I had been programmed to believe. I made myself miserable by constantly beating myself over the head for not being pretty or skinny enough. If I look back at my journals from middle school, high school, and university, almost every single entry has something to do with how I needed to lose weight to be happy, to look good, to get a boyfriend…to be perfect. But I look back and I realize that I wasn’t this monster I envisioned myself to be in comparison with my classmates. How much time did I waste obsessing over my size instead of living my life? Don’t let the negative voices from the past hold you back and haunt your present.

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