Banana Lips Speaks

by Anonymous

When I was in the fifth grade, I was extremely popular and well liked.  I had many friends and I was very confident.  That is very different from how I am today.  So what happened?  I was teased and bullied in elementary and middle school, and that had a permanent effect on my self-esteem.

I was on top of the latest trends, I had tons of friends, and I had a ton of confidence when I was younger.  I loved my life and always looked forward to going to school.  I spent a lot of time with my friends and was genuinely happy.  That all changed in the fifth grade.

“I think we should all come up with nicknames,” said Tarik one day in the crowded, noisy cafeteria.  He was a very loud and outspoken member of our group of friends; if something was on his mind, he always let you know.  He was not afraid of hurting anyone’s feelings and was very opinionated.  “Kristin, I know what your nickname can be!” he shouted.

“Oh, and what’s that?” I replied.

“Banana lips!” he said, “since your lips are big and look like bananas!”  The table erupted in laughter.  I chuckled quietly, but I honestly didn’t find it that funny.  I was filled with a feeling of dread; was this really what all of my so-called “friends” thought about me?  I was in a sour mood for the rest of the day, but I tried to put it out of my mind and get over it as much as possible.

Time went by, and I tried to keep up an image of confidence despite the fact that my friends had been making such comments towards me.  In the sixth grade, when we all made the transition to middle school, these “friends” of mine were suddenly not around anymore.  They all had moved on and found new friends; I was completely devastated.  I didn’t understand what I had done to make all of my friends forget me so quickly.  I made new friends, but I was still pretty upset about the whole situation.

“You sure have a lot of blackheads on your nose,” Joe said to me one day in math class.  He sat behind me and I had turned around to give him his paper, when his comment came out of the blue.  The bright, colorful classroom felt dull and dark all of a sudden.

“You’re an ass,” I replied, and turned around, trying to hide my tears.  My self-esteem was already damaged from the loss of most of my friends, and this didn’t make me feel any better.

That night, I came sobbing to my mom and told her what had been going on.  I told her that kids were making fun of me, and she could sense how upset I was about the comments that had been made to me.

“Honey, they’re just jealous!” she exclaimed.   She gave me a big hug and said, “Your lips are beautiful!  Do you know how many women pay good money to have collagen injected into their lips so they look like yours?  You are so lucky!”

I felt a little bit better after talking to my mom, but to this day, the things people have said about me stick in my mind.  I know I shouldn’t let little comments like that get to me so much, but part of my personality is that I’m very sensitive and take things like that to heart.  I’m still not nearly as confident as I was back in elementary school.  I’m still self-conscious about my lips, among other things.  While I think a decline in self-esteem is pretty normal for kids to experience during adolescence, it doesn’t have to be aggravated by insensitive comments from “friends.”  I’ve suffered from depression for about five years now, and I think being teased and bullied while I was younger had a lot to do with the onset of my depression.

Unfortunately, many girls who are bullied suffer from depression, and at a much higher rate than girls who aren’t bullied.  26% of girls who are bullied report depression, as opposed to 8% of girls who aren’t victims of bullying (Aleude, et. al 156).  The effects of bullying—both short- and long-term—are devastating.  It is a huge problem today and it needs to be taken seriously.

Works Cited

Aleude, Oyaziwo, et. al.  “A Review of the Extent, Nature, Characteristics and Effects of Bullying.”  Journal of Instructional Psychology 35.2 (2008): 151-8.  Education.  Web.  24 Feb. 2010.

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