That title is a quote from Pink’s acceptance speech at the VMA awards and refers to what her 6-year-old daughter, Willow, said on her way to school one day. However, it is something I said many times myself at that age and all through my life.
Pink’s speech is very powerful and should be seen by every girl – no, every female regardless of age because sexuality bullying knows no boundaries.
When I was in grade one or two I had to start wearing clunky orthopedic shoes because I was pigeon-toed. They were brown and did actually look like boy’s shoes. Also, my mom kept my hair in a pixy cut. As a result, I was called “a boy in a dress” at school and everywhere I went.
This bullying progressed to being called a dog, a clutz, a fat pig, and other such endearing terms. I tried wearing different types of clothing but nothing seemed to please my peers. This is when I started wearing purple. I loved the colour like my paternal grandmother and made purple corduroy pants way before wearing the colour was “acceptable”.
I began wearing more pants than skirts which just fed the “boy” references so I begged my mother to let me grow my hair out. It didn’t help.
To make matters worse, when I was 12 I got braces. In addition to the old-style “railroad tracks”, I had a bite plate that hung down and showed pink below my teeth and a night guard that I had to wear all day.
I wish I had a Mom like Pink, who had gone through some of the same things and “didn’t change”. I am not saying my Mom wasn’t supportive. She and my grade 5/7 teacher, Mrs. Juk, who I featured awhile back, apparently would meet and cry over my situation. But my Mom could not relate. She was always one of the more popular girls in school. She knew bullying happened but it didn’t happen in her circles.
In junior high I was responsible for printing the newsletter so was able to be in the office to use the copier machine. One day I was leaving with my bundle of pages and the principal was just coming in. He looked over at me and said, “you have a bit of a mustache growing there.” The truth was I did have hair starting to grow under my nose and it bothered me. But to have the principal point it out was more devastating than anything other students ever said. I ran down to my Dad’s store after school and bought facial bleach and tweezers. When I got home I plucked what I could and bleached out the rest. But it was something that stayed with me for most of my life.
I also had a unibrow that I had to pluck and wax regularly. But none of these things bother me anymore.
My first real serious boyfriend was in University. I met him in French class during my first term. We didn’t start dating for several months. I remember overhearing a couple of his friends telling him he could do better than me. I was nice enough but nothing great to look at. He said that my looks didn’t matter to him which made me feel like he agreed but it was okay with him. I never let on I heard that and we dated for about a year. When he broke up with me, he started dating someone else from the residence I lived in. People would say she looked a lot like me. I didn’t dare ask what they meant by that.
I am so proud of Pink for standing up not only for HER daughter but for all those young girls suffering through the same thing.
I have mentioned that when I was eight I tried to take a razor blade to my wrist but my sister came home (and I would have made a mess but wasn’t cutting in the proper direction to kill myself thankfully). I wasn’t diagnosed with depression until my late 20’s; however, the doctor that diagnosed it traced it back to those tormented early years.
I still don’t see myself as beautiful but I do not see myself as ugly either. I am happy in my own skin for the most part. I am trying to lose weight but not for my looks. It will help with the chronic pain and my own self-image.
The ironic thing now is that I have my hair cut similar to a pixie cut because it is the easiest for me to take care of. I wear clunky shoes for the support I need, but they are far more stylish than back when I was six. One pair is raspberry clogs! I also mostly wear long flowing dresses. This isn’t to advertise I am female. They are the most comfortable for my fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis ravaged body!
So to all those Willows out there don’t try to change a thing. Embrace who you are and the world will embrace you too!
I was going to include pictures of me over the years but unfortunately, the scanner isn’t working. Photo Credit: Gratisography