Don’t Let Bullies Define Your Self-worth: A Short Memoir


The scars of bullying can last a lifetime.

The cruel words seem to never escape our minds.
While I’ve been blessed enough to have some AMAZING, ENCOURAGING, and LOVING family members and friends (like you reading this blog post)…it’s taken many years to let the positive words beat the negative comments and stories. 
And when I saw this video today about a beautiful woman who defends herself when a man called her fat, I felt so inspired to support and spread her words! Go watch this video and then come back to my blog. I’ll be waiting…

Thanks for coming back! Isn’t Jennifer AMAZING?!

Back to my story…It’s taken many nights crying myself to sleep to realize that people in your life who are worth it won’t make you cry.
Not like that.
They won’t make you cry until you can’t breathe.

Unless, they are gone from your life all together.

Growing up, I was awkward.

Those were the “chubby girl” jeans I rocked all the time!
Thank goodness I had the best sisters around to constantly perk me up.
Plain and simple.
Elementary school – pre major weight gain. Just extremely tall.
I was probably in 4th grade here and I’m almost as tall as the Christmas tree.
And yes, I’m dressed as an Elf in a red trash bag.
My parents and Grandma Kaye will tell you I was the “most beautiful teddy bear brown eyed girl in the world” – but in reality, I was tall, chubby, and loud.

People didn’t understand me.

And many times, I didn’t understand me.

But isn’t that what growing up is all about? Understanding who you are…

Anyway, elementary school was the hardest.

I was so much taller than EVERYONE!

I was constantly teased about my height and weight.

I can’t even tell you how many times in my life another kid called me fat.

Or say things like, “Hope you don’t break the swing set!”

And at other times, they’d ask, “What’s the weather like up there you jolly green giant?”

To this day, I hate wearing green in fear of comments like that…I’m older, wiser, and stronger. But as I said, the scars last a lifetime.

Going into middle school, got slightly more complicated. A few times I would be walking down the street, and older kids would yell out the window at me.

“HEY FAT GIRL- YOU SURE CAN USE THE EXERCISE.”

Oh god. That day.

I’ll never forget that day.

I cried the entire way home from school.

And unfortunately, I had many days like that growing up.

Kids at the pool would make comments about the swimsuit I was wearing.

Or say things like, “I wouldn’t ever date a girl like her, she’s fat!”

It hurt.

Oh, it hurt so bad.

I remember one time in middle school, I forget my lunch money. I only had 50 cents, and a slushie was 50 cents. Now, it wasn’t a nutritious meal, but it was something to hold me over until 3 pm. (And thankfully, I never skipped breakfast).

While walking out of the cafeteria, one of the most popular boys in school yelled out, “Hey Ashley- are you finally on a diet or something?”

The other kids at the table started dying laughing and I walked away fighting back tears.

Eventually, I “peaked” in high school. I lost my extra weight (though, not in a healthy way). But looking in the mirror, I often saw the chubby and tall girl from fifth grade.

I let the words of bullies define my self-worth.

Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and blogs weren’t as popular (or available) when I was in elementary, middle school or even high school. So cybering bullying wasn’t a big worry for me…but the in-person bullying was hard enough. I truly can’t imagine all the pain and hurt kids go through today with these outlets available for bullies to hide their faces, yet still say hurtful words to others.

To the children getting bullied, I tell you from experience: you’ll be the one laughing one day.

The kid who asked if I was finally going on a diet? He has been in and out of jail. Meanwhile, I have a college degree and secure job doing what I love.

Office Olympics, anyone?
The kid who called me fat at the city pool? I’m skinner than them today.

And I probably run faster than them too.

The kid who said no one would ever date a fat girl? I’ve married the most amazing, incredible, loving, talented, and handsome man I know!!
And we have a blast together.
Do not let the words of bullies define your self-worth.

My advice for overcoming bullying?

Surround yourself with positive people.
I find it impossible to be sad when I’m around certain people. How can you be sad when you’re laughing and smiling until your cheeks hurt? And you may or may not pee your pants from laughing so hard? Those are the people you need in your life. Those are the moments that matter most in life.

Tell someone– anyone- what you’re going through with bullies. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable telling your mom or dad, so tell a friend, cousin, aunt, uncle, teacher, mentor- it doesn’t matter who you pick, as long as they support you and lift you up when you need it the most.

Focus on the “shouts of many.” There are SO MANY people who love you. Who want you to succeed. Who think you are beautiful. Who think you could do anything in this entire world, if only you have the confidence and heart to do so.

Stand up for yourself!! This doesn’t mean being a bully back…because often you’ll find that bullies are saying mean things and starting fights because they are unhappy with who they are…or maybe they don’t have a happy and healthy home life. Instead, tell them straight to their face:

“Your words mean nothing to me.”

“You will not bring me down.”

“I’m better than you say I am.”

Because you ARE better than they say you are. Way better.

And finally, to end this blog post…I want to encourage ALL OF YOU to stand up against bullying.

Be that friend, cousin, aunt, uncle, teacher, mentor, parent who helps someone get through the bullying (which by the way, can happen at any age…from preschoolers to middle schoolers to college students to middle-aged people to retirement homes…bullying is everywhere)!

If you see a kid- who you might not even know- getting picked on, stand up for him or her.

It might just change his life or her life.

Or better yet, save their life.

So, my weight? I still battle with it every single month, week, day, hour. But I’m finally comfortable in my own skin.

And the weather up here? Well, it’s a lot brighter now that I’m defining my own self-worth.

Much love,

Ashley

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