Monday, February 10, 2014

Bullies & Beauty, Learning to Love Myself

Note from Megan: In honor of Valentine's Day week, I am sharing how love has affected many facets of my life. It's my Learning About Love series.

With Valentine's Day fast approaching, I have been thinking a lot about love. Valentine's Day usually causes us to think about love between couples, but the love I have been considering is self-love. For some reason, especially for women, this seems to be the hardest type of love to learn.

When I was in middle school in the throes of puberty, self-love was the last thing on my mind. I hated everything about my body, how it was changing, the strange things it was doing and the way I suddenly felt. I had always been a generally happy child, but now I found myself moody and unhappy. My hair got frizzy and unruly. My face exploded with acne. I was so miserable.

Even worse, I hated how other people, particularly my peers, reacted to me. Of course when I became my most-awkward, I suddenly cared what boys thought of me. I got teased quite a bit for my looks. I consider it bullying. I remember each instance like it was yesterday, because the mortification was burned into my mind. But there is one instance where I decided to take my happiness into my own hands. I couldn't change my appearance, but I could change how people reacted to me.

In my home room, there was one particular boy who liked to follow me around with his posse of pimply friends and call me his "girlfriend". He said it in such a cruel, ironic way. I still remember how his lips curled when he called me his "girlfriend" and how his ugly friends laughed. No matter where I moved, he followed me, asking me on dates I knew he would never take me on.

I cried every day I went home. My parents tried to explain boys only call girls their girlfriend if they think they're pretty, but I knew better. Finally, my mom said, "what this boy is doing to you is harassment. Next time he calls you his girlfriend, you tell him to back off or you will report him for harassment".

Her suggestion scared me out of my mind. How could I stand up to his horrible boy and his friends? Sure enough, the next day, he followed me around during homeroom, calling me his girlfriend. Fed up with the self-hatred, I turned towards him and said, "stop following me! If you don't stop harassing me, I will report you to the principal!"

He backed away from me, shocked. And neither he nor his nasty friends ever bothered me again. It still took me many more years to recover from the scars of self-hatred, but that day, I took a step towards self-love. To all those sweet, precious girls out there who hate their appearance, remember the people who torture you have no right to judge you. Who are they to decide if you are beautiful or not? Most of them are ugly anyway, at least on the inside.

Remember God made you the way you are for a purpose. And if you're in the throes of a particularly awkward phase of puberty like I was, remember IT WILL PASS. It seems like puberty will last forever, but IT WILL PASS. You will figure out how to control your hair. Makeup won't be so confusing.

And if nothing else, you have someone here who understands. Never hesitate to contact me! See that little red envelope icon at the top of my homepage? Click on it anytime to reach me. Love you girls!