By Lucinda Bradford
February 3, 2014
By Stephanie Starr, Senior
Mingo Central High School
The first time I had ever looked in the mirror and thought that I was ugly, I was 8 years old and in the second grade.
All the other kids were calling me ugly, then why shouldn’t I? Names constantly swirled around on the playground, ugly ones like Miss Piggy and freak and loser. Although I was still in the early years of my life, barely old enough to be in grade school, I slowly began to consider myself the ugly girl that nobody cared about. That’s what all the other kids believed, wasn’t it?
Or were the melancholy words of the other kids a dull, hollowing echo, repeated so they could fit in with the popular crowd? Unfortunately, I chose the former and before the age of 10 I began to thoroughly hate myself.
As an early teenager, things only got exponentially worse for me. I started middle school when I was 12, and turned 13 later in the fall. By then, the kids who were calling me ugly on the playground had become familiar with the Internet and were using in in a barrage of unpleasant ways.
When I was in the seventh and eighth grades, Myspace was the most popular social media, and on my Myspace there was an app called Truth Box. Truth Box let you tell people what you felt anonymously even if you didn’t have the app installed. Now, instead of being able to walk away from the torment of school at 2:45, I could at any given moment during the day be ridiculed. During the height of Myspace’s popularity, I got a message that I remember plain as day. It said:
You need to get Jenny Craig because you’re a disgusting fat pig! Oxyelite won’t help you at all. And why don’t you get a straightener to fix that ugly — mane? Everyone knows straight hair is the prettiest! Loser!
Now, to anyone who isn’t 13, this slew of poorly concocted insults would’ve been disregarded immediately. However, I took it very harshly for I believed that whoever it was that wrote it truly hated me, the way I looked, and how my hair behaved. I found solace in music, but of course it wasn’t the kind of music everyone else liked, so I was further ridiculed for that.
Everywhere I went, someone was sneering and ridiculing me. Simba was thrown around quite often as an insult for my hair. I felt so hopeless and withdrawn that I wanted to be home schooled so I wouldn’t have to be under such a constant fury of ridicule.
I moved up to high school in 2010 and just when I thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse, it did. I almost got jumped in the lunch line because two boys thought I had skipped them in line. I got called walrus, Shrek, swamp rat, all because it was the cool thing to do. I was the kid everyone made fun of because they were bored.
I was oftentimes ridiculed because I was in band, and sometimes even the band kids made fun of me. I started receiving death threats on Facebook in the summer of 2011 from people in all grades 9-12. The school I went to did little to nothing for the kids who were being bullied in their hallways, so I felt like that even if I brought in the pages of screen shots that showed that people were threatening to haze, beat, and kill me, nothing would happen.
I was so lost and desperate to get a break that I begged my parents to let me go to Mingo Central it’s first year. Due to a series of extremely fortunate events, I got to attend Mingo Central during its first year while staying with my grandparents.
The first day of Mingo Central, I was nervous that I was surrounded by 800 kids that I didn’t know, but for the first time in school I felt free. Free to be friends with anyone I chose without having to worry about the torment that followed me during my childhood.
I soon became friends with anybody and everybody that would talk to me. The circles and cliques that were so closely held on to at the feeder schools didn’t really concern me because I never went to any of the old schools. I honestly believe that I helped people who normally wouldn’t have talked to each other because of what school they came from talk to each other and become friends.
I got so caught up in trying to impress everyone, that instead of leveling out my past and moving on, I slowly became the bully. I was the one laughing and mocking others.
During my sophomore year, I also got caught up in heavy alcohol use.I thought I was the cool kid because I partied every weekend. My junior year, I ended up ditching the alcohol but keeping the same actions as I had the year before.
I ended hurting people that did nothing to me and I got a reality check of my own. At the end of my junior year, Central’s second year, I realized that the path I had been on the past two years was not helping me any. It was hurting me and everyone around me.
My senior year, the third year of Central, I had made a point to level the playing ground for once and for all.
During this year, I have helped many people overcome obstacles that this time one year ago I would not have, and that to me is proof enough that anyone can improve themselves no matter what situations happened in their past. I kept the issues but took away the stigma that I’d held on to for so long about what other people felt and I had to find who I really was.
I’m infinitely grateful for those who have stood by me all three years of this school’s existence, and for those who have helped me become who I am through the bad experiences and the good because I feel like without these things that have happened in my life, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.