My 5th Grade Experience -- Harmless Boy-Teasing, or Bullying?

bullying South Bay Teen
They’d call me fat, ugly, disgusting, repulsive, stupid, creepy. Basically anything that they knew could get to me, and I hated just how they knew.

Picture a lonely 5th grade girl sitting under a tree on a hill reading a book at recess, I know it's stupid and cliche but that was me. My friends had taken a liking to the library and would usually sit in there until lunch had ended. I personally hated the library and came up with every excuse I could to get out of going with them. Instead of reading a crappy book in a cramped and stuffy room, I would read a crappy book on a grassy hill under a tree right next to a dodgeball game. Sometimes I’d  think back to the days when I would run around that same field and chase the boys I had crushes on. They were typically a foot shorter than me, but one of them liked me back. The Boy. But those memories seem distant and far away.

Now picture The Boy and his friends on the field pointing, staring and laughing at the girl on the hill. Laughing at me. Eventually, they-made up a game where they would hit me with a ball and then pretend like it had deadly germs on it, and then chase each other with it. At the time I didn't understand what the game was about, but eventually I had brought myself to the conclusion that I was infected. 

Then The Boy and his friends started calling me things, never the REALLY awful things that a girl could get called in middle school, but of course it still hurt. They'd call me fat, ugly, disgusting, repulsive, stupid, creepy. Basically anything that they knew could get to me, and I hated just how they knew. They knew that no matter what I did, I couldn't just look past these stupid-ass insults. I had no idea why they were doing this to me, Just a year before The Boy had liked me back. I had made him drawings and cards telling just how much I liked him. I tried to protect him and look out for him. We had gone to each other’s houses to play. I hadn't done anything to warrant this. 

I’m not sure how it happened so quickly for me, maybe because I was so confused by it all, but I saw myself as ugly now. I was ugly and fat just like they had said. They were right. What happened to my confidence? How could I let these people get to me? They had called me things that in the past wouldn't have even dented my self- esteem. What was happening? 

Flash forward to science camp at Catalina and we’re all throwing up on a boat going 8 miles per hour. It was a pretty normal outdoor Ed type of thing. The activities were pretty fun, except for the fact that I missed out on snorkeling in a wet suit. I couldn't get the stupid thing on my body in time and the group left without me. They had given me the biggest size and I still couldn't fit in it? That’s when I noticed that the other girl's bodies didn't look like mine, really. Our body proportions were different. While I was a bit thicker and had bigger boobs, they were more slim and petite. I thought, "Well hey, at least I have boobs," but that thinking didn't get me anywhere. Sadly. I wanted to be skinny like them. Not because it looked good in my eyes, but because I knew it would look good in a boy's eyes. Especially in the eyes of The Boy who had called me fat.  

The time had come to get back on the vomit ship. We all looked like castaways, just lying in scattered piles in the cloudy weather. I was sitting upright with a few of my friends when I just happened to shift my glance over at The Boy. God, he looked so cute. WHAT AM I DOING? I HATE THAT STUPID LITTLE SH**. I tried my best to look away but I just kept staring. I will never forgive myself. This boy is ruining your 5th grade year, calling you names and gossiping about you, and yet you still find him attractive? You could sling him over your shoulder in a matter of seconds and throw him overboard. He is not your type and never will be.

The 5th grade graduation ceremony was now coming and we had rehearsal every other day. Surprisingly, I was one of the soloists that was chosen to sing on stage. Every time I would go down to the stage from the risers and sing, The Boy and his friend would always be there making fun of me. They would say how horrible I was at singing and in general would just distract me and diminish my already low self-esteem. On the day of the graduation ceremony, while in line to get on the stage, I heard The Boy say something to his friend in complete earshot of me. He said that I actually looked hot. What the hell? Because my curly hair was straightened and I was wearing a dress? I obviously gave him stink-eye and he noticed. That was the best I could do. I was utterly dumbfounded. Anyways, the performance went well. parents took pictures. And that's the end of that. 

We had a couple more days of school left and on one of these particular days, The Boy’s friend who had been making fun of me during the rehearsals came up to me. He said that two of my friends had told him how much he had hurt me and my confidence everyday. He wanted to apologize. What? I just thought he was going to say something about how crappy I looked or something, but no, he apologized. Of course I accepted it, still in utter shock. What else could I do? Also in those last couple of days, The Boy told me that he and the others never even thought I was fat or any of the other things they called me. They just wanted to insult me for no real reason but heir own.

Now in 8th grade while I'm writing this, a question comes to me, "Was it all just harmless boy-teasing or was it bullying?" To this day I still don't understand why they went after me and I don't think I ever will. I always think to myself how stupid it really was to let these boys tear down my confidence and replace it with fear. Maybe it was just simple boy teasing, but I felt that it had escalated to so much more than that. I still don't have the same body as all the the other girls, and I still am not 100% satisfied at this point with my image. I guess there's always something you want to improve about yourself.

If I had any advice to younger teenagers experiencing similar issues, it would probably be to try your best to ignore it. If you trust certain teachers and would like to tell them about it, that's fine too. My mom and I talked about it a lot, and she tried to help (she even talked to the teacher). I wish I had better advice to be honest, but I really don't. I just hope that none of this ever happens to you because no matter how confident or how strong you think you are, there's always going to be someone that can get to you. 

By, Marina Way