Dear Teen Victoria,
You hate bullies. Despise them, in fact, and for good reason. You’ve had your fair share. You were picked on for your size throughout late elementary school and into middle school. Allow me to clarify what you were confused about—you are not fat. Not at all. You developed earlier than many girls in your grade, and so there are curves where others have straight lines. There is padding and thickness in the places women are supposed to have such things. But bullies will remind you you’re not a woman. You’re a girl, and so you shouldn’t look the way you do. They will play a game with you on the school playground. Five kids will circle you and pretend you are breathing them in because you are so large. To them, your breasts make you disgusting. Your hips make you vile.
But you are neither of these things.
You are simply you.
Later in middle school, you’ll become a cheerleader. A certain boy will tease you mercilessly as you practice. You won’t know why, but you’ll always remember his name. I wish you wouldn’t. I wish I could tell you how one year later, in high school, that same boy’s friends will turn against him and ask you on dates. I wish I could tell that girl on the playground “sucking children in with her mammoth size” will become head cheerleader, have a football player boyfriend, make tons of friends, be invited to every party, lead numerous school organizations, make straight As, get college acceptance letters, and watch as the children who teased her fail classes, and drop out, and have children of their own before high school is over.
Don’t worry, Victoria, you will blossom and come into your own. But you will never forget the years you came home crying. You’ll never forget how ashamed you were of your own body. As you get older, you’ll defend those who can’t defend themselves. You’ll be repulsed by bullies, stick up for people when it’s awkward to do so, and even part ways with a best friend because she teases people.
And when you are grown, your husband will one day look at you and say, “I noticed something about you.”
You’ll reply, “What’s that?”
“You hate bullies,” he’ll answer. “Like, you really, really hate when people make fun of others.”
You’ll nod, because he’s right. Because you’ve been bullied. Because it changed you. And because for the rest of your life you’ll walk around waiting to defend those who need it. Because you didn’t defend yourself then.