Keep Calling Someone a Dog

Hailey - Auburn, Washington
Entered on November 10, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

Keep calling someone a dog and they’ll start thinking they have a tail. This I believe. I believe that when you are told something continually, day after day, you begin to believe it yourself. For instance, if your boyfriend tells you frequently that you are beautiful, you will start to feel prettier and more confident; on the other hand, if he claims that you are repulsive daily, your self-esteem will plummet to a point where you feel worthless.

A personal example of this theory involves my mother and I. One day we were sitting in our shared bedroom, watching American Idol. At ten, thinking my voice was the cream of the crop, I stated to my mother, “I’m gonna be on that show, Mom. And I’ll be the best and win, I’ll be famous… You’ll see.” Now here you would assume that any other mother would laugh and spout encouragement and praises, or even poke fun a bit, but instead mine just frowned and said, “You’re not a good enough singer to even make it to the prelims.” It took everything I had not to cry. Her telling me that hurt so badly, it made me angry and started a wave of depression. Not long after this occurrence my mother shattered my self-esteem again, only this time having to do with modeling. We were on a drive and the radio was playing a commercial telling about modeling open calls at the Westfield mall and I, not realizing that her vicious attacks were to become a trend, pointed out to my mother eagerly, “Mom! I’m in the age range! I could be a model. Can I do it?” Mom, already glaring at the road, turned to reply, “No, we don’t have enough money. It costs too much,” Now she could have left it there but she added, “And you’re too short; your face isn’t striking enough to catch peoples eyes, you wouldn’t make it at all Hailey.” And she kept driving as if she hadn’t just thrown me into a pit of despair. These episodes began a string of insults and discouraging comments that continued over the years. My life has been under her scrutinous attention, and is to this day.

Mother-daughter relationships are the most fragile and influential kind of relationships. The relationship with my mother has shaped my character for better or for worse. And now, at the age of seventeen and in a successful choir of 60, I still cannot sing out for fear of ridicule or offense. It has been verbally beaten into my head that I will never be good enough, to sing, to model, to do anything; thus, I believe that when you’re told incessantly, whether in encouragement or belittlement, you begin to think it of yourself. So be careful of what you say, you could be shaping someone’s life.