Thinking about my younger days is a double edged sword. I didn’t really have it bad as a kid — I had friends and those friends are quality people I still talk to on occasion — but I didn’t have it EASY either. The nerd herd at my high school also happened to be the majority of the popular kids, and wasn’t that an interesting crossover. Usually the honor class kids are the ones who are picked on for chess club and having pocket protectors, but not so in WBHS. At least, not when I was there. Big brains was where it was at, yo. Social pecking order kings and queens represent.
Problem was I wasn’t really popular kid material. I’m a big girl, not just in the “ate too many Ding Dongs” way, but as in I’m huge boned. Broad shoulders, tall, big boobs and hips. My size often got mistaken for obesity; I wasn’t one of the petite girls and I sort of STUCK OUT. Sometimes (often) kids could be pricks about my shape, enough that I still remember their dickish behavior at thirty COUGH COUGH years old. And if I’m holding onto it twenty years later? Yeah, it had to be bad. One of my early dating memories was my first boyfriend (at 12 or 13?) dancing with me with his hands on my hips saying, “Wow. Everyone thinks you’re fat, but you’re not.”
. . . he was a kid. I’ll forgive him for not having his social skills mastered yet. Sort of.
Enter the white bathing suit story. So my mom bought me this white bathing suit that had cool little gem things all over it. I loved it because I was a preteen and dim and didn’t realize the hazards of see-through bathing suits. I allowed myself to be bedazzled by the bedazzled white bathing suit. I chose poorly. See, there was this pool party birthday thing with a bunch of my peers and we all went swimming. When one of the girls noticed that she could see MA BUBBIES through the wet fabric top, she pointed it out to everyone there and then stole my towel so I couldn’t get out of the pool without everyone making hideous fun of my naked “fat” body. Some girl I don’t remember (she wasn’t one of my classmates – another guest at the party) took pity on me and got the towel so I could get out of the pool and go hide my shame in the bathroom.
Needless to say, the girl that pulled the towel thing has probably forgotten allll about this cute little incident. I, however, have not. Now I’m an author and I can write about what happened and paint her as the douchebag she was (and remained through the rest of high school.) Yeah, yeah. Get over it, Hillary, and for the most part I have. But I still react thinking about it. I still cringe remembering my humiliation. Like, no kidding, being embarrassed is the worst thing ever for me, so when I think of this girl, my brain leaps to “that chick should eat a bag of dicks.” Not nice, but I do sort of hope she’s roasting on Satan’s spit somewhere. Or, if she kept up her high school antics, she’s being roasted between two spits if you know what a mean.
ANYWAY! My point!
We have to, have to, have to make sure we’re communicating to young people that it’s not okay to bully or be cruel to their peers. Being cruel because you think it’s funny or you think others will respect you or like you more for your cruelty is indicative of something being very wrong with society. Parents that pass these behaviors off as rites of passage /are insensitive morons/. I know that in the vast scheme of things, my bathing suit thing is minor, but it’s a good example of how one thing could evolve into two or three or four with the wrong kids involved. And once you’re looking at two or three or four, you might be looking at something like this.
And that is just goddamned heartbreaking.
Talk to your kids. Make them not be asshats. The rest of the world will appreciate you more if you do.