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Sticks And Stones Could Give You Bones

I spent the majority of my life being judged. It started in kindergarten, when another little girl I was playing with on the playground told me that my dress didn't twirl as much as hers did. She told me because of that, I couldn't play with her and her friends anymore. I stared down at my recently purchased "baby blue striped frock" and, what was the most "superior dress" in the world to me that morning...

Twirling In A Pink DressI spent the majority of my life being judged. It started in kindergarten, when another little girl I was playing with on the playground told me that my dress didn’t twirl as much as hers did. She told me because of that, I couldn’t play with her and her friends anymore. I stared down at my recently purchased “baby blue striped frock” and, what was the most “superior dress” in the world to me that morning, suddenly might as well have been a pair of “boys overalls.” Suddenly recess had turned into “who wore it best” and I had lost. I was devastated and began to value what dresses I had based upon the “velocity and speed” in which they could rotate. I used to hold experiments in which I would twirl myself silly in all my dresses, calculating in my head as I looked down which one spun the fastest. Needless to say I was quite a dizzy little five year old, but one thing was for sure, I was going to have nothing less than the best dress on the block, and so it began.

While my younger sister was always deemed the “tomboy” in our family, I was deemed the “Miss America.” I think in the womb I probably accessorized my umbilical cord and was probably reading baby Vogue. I was a lucky child in the fact that I was raised by women who dressed well and had good taste. I guess I was born with and passed on the gift of being able to match a good jacket with a good pair of shoes. It was a sin in my family to wear white after labor day, to wear scuffed shoes, or jeans and t-shirt out to dinner. To me the way I dressed became a way I was accepted, and looking back at that now, I can see where my desire and need for approval from others began.

As children we are accepted by our parents, loved and praised no matter what. It isn’t until we are introduced into the world of “red crayons” vs. “blue crayons”, “peanut butter sandwiches on wheat” vs. “bologna sandwiches on white”, or “defective dresses” vs. “dresses that twirled”, that we start to feel inferior based on who is sitting next to us during story hour.

I speak with a lot of adults who still can recall horror stories of being ridiculed or bullied just based off of what haircut their mother gave them, or what shoes she put on their feet. One friend of mine was raised by a foster family and said she lived in hand me downs that were handed down and then handed down again. She says she used to cry in the bathroom because she was called dirty, and ugly because her jeans weren’t brand new.

Another guy I know says that he can barely look at a dodgeball without thinking of always being the kid picked last in P.E. Class when teams were chosen, all because of his red hair and stutter.

It’s a sad sad fact but from a very young age on, we start to put things into classes and categories. We start to base who “we like” and who “we don’t like” not based on who they are, but what they are not…what they are wearing, or the way that they look. As we get older it gets worse. Some girls mature faster and suddenly become unpopular because they shoot up in size and get boobs, or worse yet shoot up and size and get triple knockers. Then in high school those same girls are the popular ones and the girls who are flat-chested are crying in the bathroom as wadded up Kleenex falls out of there 32 B. It doesn’t help that around this time too, we start to notice boys and also start to notice what they deem acceptable. Individualism gets thrown out the window, and this is where a time I remember losing my identity as Melissa, and began to refer to myself as “Not perfect enough.”

Ironically, high school was where my eating disorder first started to rear its ugly head. I felt so out of touch with my body, and used to spend hours obsessing over it. I was never heavy, but one day a boy once told me I had a double chin and a fat ass. It was that girl telling me I didn’t have the “twirliest” dress all over again. I was devastated and just like I did when I was five, began to obsess about being liked based off of what somebody else had said.

Self Esteem - I love MeIt’s only been in the past few years that I have completely let that nonsense go. Chalk it up to years of trying to always meet other people’s standards, whether it be society or who was sitting next to me on the Subway, but I came to realize what an absolute waste of time it is. It’s investing in time you could be traveling, or spending time with your friends, reading a good book, or eating some good Chinese food.

I didn’t get where I am today because of the color of my hair, the brand on my jeans, or the size of my boobs. Nope, I am where I am today based off of liking who I am on the inside. I know, it sounds very inside of a “Hallmark Card”, but it’s the truth.

I wish I could go back to that playground and tell that” little girl” inside of me that it didn’t matter how much her dress twirled, but rather that she had a “great sense of humor” and a “great sense of wit.” I wish I could tell her that in high school, that boy didn’t know a “double chin” from a “double cheeseburger” and could “kiss my perfectly fabulous ass.”

Maybe it’s for the best, because life is about lessons, and I have learned this one well. Like I tell myself everyday: The prettiest thing I own is my “Confidence”, the most amazing thing about me is my “Attitude”, and the most beautiful thing I put on each and every day is my own “Skin.” I still like to “Twirl” as a matter of fact quite a lot, but I do that in my lovely little head!