The Power of Peer Influence

Sean - Western Springs, Illinois
Entered on February 23, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
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Influential Power of Peers

Children come in many shapes and sizes. Go to the local playground and you will see two predominant groups: the stick thin boys and girls that chase after each other with endless bounds of energy, and the few larger kids that are forever struggling to keep up. I was I one of those stragglers, and the other boys and girls never let me forget it.

My school wasn’t a huge one, small enough so that everyone knew everyone else’s name after a year or two. This however wasn’t the case for me. There were very few kids that knew my real name; instead, they knew me by “Fat Boy”. I wasn’t an obese child, but admittedly, I wasn’t the skinniest kid in class either. The name calling was first intended warm-heartedly, but quickly became a vicious reminder of the body I was soon ashamed of. Going into fifth grade, I had no problems with my appearance. I didn’t really care that I was a little thicker than the other kids; that fact had never caused me any trouble before. After only weeks of this teasing though, my whole self-image changed. It was now obvious to me that I wasn’t like every other kid, and I wasn’t different in a good way.

I became extremely self-conscious, and became obsessed with the idea of changing my body for the better. By sixth grade I was lifting weights almost everyday. I was doing everything I could to rid myself of that name that had been bestowed upon me by my friends. I watched what I ate, worked out obsessively, and surely stunted my growth along the way. The influence of my peers has changed my life in both good and bad ways. Obviously, a stunted growth was never something I tried to bring upon myself. Not to mention the rough patch I went through emotionally. Of course, on the outside I brushed it off with nothing but smiles, but on the inside I truly hurt. On the other hand, I became a much healthier person because of that experience. I no longer obsess about getting skinny, but I do stay active all year long. Whether the effects are good or bad, the power of peer influence is something I believe in.