I hear it everywhere. Everywhere I go. Laughing. Are they laughing at me? I don’t know I’m too afraid to turn around and look. What do I believe in? I’m not sure. But I’ll tell you what I don’t believe in: Laughing at someone behind their back.
As a kid, well a slightly younger version of me, I was constantly made fun of. I know what you’re thinking, “Those bullies at school are getting crueler with every passing generation.” But in fact school was a safe haven for me when waiting for me at home was constant ridicule and taunting by my own family. Now you’re probably thinking, “Wow, this girl is too sensitive, siblings are supposed to make fun of you, it’s their job.” But it wasn’t just my siblings, but also cousins, second-cousins, and even some aunts and uncles, were constantly referring to one another and reminding ME-as if I didn’t already know!- that I was overweight.
My cousins were always whispering to each other, looking at me deliberately and laughing, so much that I became paranoid. So that every time I heard someone laughing, even at some random place, where I didn’t know anyone and I knew they didn’t know me, I would automatically comb my fingers through my hair-was there something stuck in it?-check the seat of my pants-did I sit on some gum, or somewhere wet? My self-esteem was so low that I was embarrassed to ask someone for help-if I was at a library and couldn’t find a book I would spend hours trying to find it or just give up on the idea of reading it instead of just asking a librarian for help- in fear that they would be repulsed by me or think bad things about me. I knew that whenever someone laughed, there wasn’t much of a chance that whoever was laughing was laughing at me, but I refused to believe it.
My life had taken a downward spiral and I was only 10! I went into a deep depression and had to re-teach myself to laugh and smile at the appropriate times because my peers were starting to get freaked out that I never found anything funny. Sometimes if I was in an especially pitiful mood about my weight I would go on a crash diet or make myself throw up. Then one day I passed by a mirror and saw how horrid I looked and I thought to myself, “What makes you think you’re so special? That everywhere you go, everybody just drops what they’re doing, just to criticize you? You’re not the only fat person in the world!”
That was a turning point in my life and little by little I’m recovering and now I laugh a little more honestly and I don’t have to remind myself so much to just smile, and I know that as long as I’m happy with myself and I have people that care about me, I shouldn’t care so much what people think about me because I know that there is no gum on my pants. This I believe.