Sunday, May 12, 2013

What's underneath all the clothes...

This is not my usual sort of post but for just one minute I'm going to step up on my little soap box and talk to you all about something that, for a change, is not fiction but actual reality.
I have to admit, I used to have a tendency to run at the mouth. I spoke my mind, and often, quite loudly. I spewed my opinion wherever and whenever I saw fit. I argued with teachers & professors, students, friends, strangers and I am the person who has been trolled a time or two-hundred...
As I've grown older, and arguably wiser, I have been able to bite my tongue a bit more. I've found the ability to pick and choose my battles -- something my mother has been trying to teach me from day one.
So at first I wasn't going to address this, mostly because I didn't want to perpetuate the buzz. I didn't want to give this particular company undue publicity, because let's face it even bad publicity is still publicity.
Yet I just didn't feel right about turning my back on something that hit so close to home...
I have been out of high school for seven years this year. Some days those seven years feels like a lifetime ago and some days it feels like just last night I was downtown hanging out with my close group of friends.
 My close group of friends I wouldn't say were popular but we weren't outcasts by any means. We had dates to school dances. We were invited to parties. We laughed, had fun, and got into a little trouble like most teens but we were overall pretty good kids. We went to school in the middle of a corn field, on the "wrong" side of the river. Our graduating class was only like 140 students wide, the entire school only something like 400 and some students large. It was easy for a person to know or at least know of everyone in the school.
But still it was a normal school.
There were cool kids.
There were not so cool kids.
There was bullying.
There were mean girls, and really douchey guys.
There were football Gods.
There was a slew of popular, pretty, Homecoming Court girls.
There were a fair share of stoners, and kids who got really excited over anime, or graphic novels, or obscure bands...
There was a scrawny red-headed gay boy thrown against the lockers and ridiculed.
But there was also... 
really brainy, really smart "jocks."
There were really cool, really funny kids who hung out with "geeks."
There was a painfully beautiful - from the inside out - Home Coming Queen who was, still is, sweet and had that kind of Christ-like niceness to everyone that's somewhat rare for a teenage girl ... hell somewhat rare period. 
There was a very popular guy, I've known since I was at least five but had only talked to sporadically since elementary school, who stopped me during a tough time to ask me how I was and he meant it. This wasn't the general, with a nod of the head, "Sup?" that usually occurred in high school this was a quiet show of genuine concern. "How are you (really)?"
Now let me tell you about me. I was in band, forensics, Media, and drama. I was friendly with everyone. I was sharp, albeit kind of a slacker. I laughed a lot, and cried a lot, and I was a bit of a dreamer (maybe still am.) I was the kid called down to the counseling office when a student, new or maybe not so much, was having a hard time integrating into the social life of high school. I was asked to take them in and I always did. Sometimes they stuck with my group of close friends but usually after awhile they found their own place in the spectrum of high school.
I was president of S.A.D.D. (Students Against Destructive Decisions) and Senior Vice President of Student Council. I was surprised to win that last position, because I didn't run unopposed and like I said I wasn't necessarily "popular." I was also morbidly obese.
The kind of obese that was uncomfortable, restrictive, and at times embarrassing. The kind of obese that made me dread restaurant booths, rollercoaster seats, backseat seatbelts and clothes shopping. 
The kind of obese that begets taunting, bullying, and social isolation. While occasionally taunted (mostly early on in school) it was never really an issue I suffered with, at least not alone. I had good friends. I was, to some degree confident enough not to let my weight rob me of too many things. I think, mostly, I was well liked and at least mildly respected. I was funny, easy to be around, and nice.
Yeah, I heard the fat jokes occasionally. I had a couple girls try to bully me a few times. I hardly ever got the guy I was crushing on and I definitely didn't fit into the trendy clothes.
I just want to touch on a few things here. You do not have to have the "cool" clothes to be cool. You are not what you wear. You are not the hobbies you partake in. You do not have to have it all together at all times.
I don't know what's going on out there, in schools across America. I don't know how "average" our school was. I don't know if we are different because we're small. I don't know if being in the middle of a corn field sheltered us a little from the real world. I don't know if other schools vote a band & drama kid Home Coming King over one of the "football Gods" but our school did. I don't know if your country, backwoods, rural, predominately all-white community voted a minority for your Prom Queen but we did.
I don't know if when something shakes your community if your school district meets around the flag-pole, "geeks" joining hands with "preps" or whatever and truly coming together in optional prayer to mourn, console, or to just be with one another ... I don't know.
I don't know if the morbidly obese fat girl in your school had a really awesome prom date but I did. There's a lot I don't know about you and your school...
What I do know is that it is possible. It's possible your school and your community is already like this. If it's not it's possible for it to be like this. Don't get me wrong we're not perfect by any means but maybe in time, maybe every class who passes through those halls will build that place up piece by piece, maybe we can all make things a little bit better, just a little bit, by doing just a little good every day.
Yes, maybe there are popular kids and maybe there are not so popular kids but I've seen that gap bridged time and time again.
Yes, maybe there were kids who bullied that red-headed gay friend of mine, but there were kids who stuck up for him too.
Maybe it's true that the "popular" kids to tended to wear "popular" clothing brands but it's also true that, it wasn't necessary. I don't recall a day in my high school career when someone touched the tag on my shirt, unless it was to tuck it in for me. Walking down the hall way I've never been asked who I was wearing. When I made my speech for that Vice President position for student council I didn't end it with dropping the name brand on my shoes, or pants, or shirt.
So regardless of what is in the news right now, or going round and round through this rotating door of the internet. Know that.
There are bullies in school and there are bullies in life but don't buy into their hype. You are not defined by your clothes, or your face, or your weight, trust someone who used to be obese and still after losing 157lbs still technically is. You are defined by your morals, your actions, but most importantly by how you treat others.
So maybe someone out there is telling you, you aren't pretty enough, you aren't perfect enough, you aren't straight enough, you aren't skinny enough, or tall enough, or short enough, or curvy enough ... but I'm here sticking up for you. I'm telling you none of that matters. I'm telling you those people who are less than accepting are insecure and threatened by the fact that they know this to be true. You. Do. Not. Need. Their. Approval.
I've been a stubborn and firm believer in "If you don't want me, I don't want you either." It has never been truer in this moment. If some person or corporation is going to tell you they don't want you because you're not the right size, shape, color or creed, they are not good enough for you, not the other way around.
Let me also remind you that fat girl is now a multi-published author and my clothing didn't have anything to do with that. 
It's not what you wear, it's how you treat people that defines you.


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