To the two boys in The Fresh Market yesterday who pointed and snickered at me:
I was too taken aback to confront you in the moment, but since I’ve had the time to process your asinine behavior, I have something I’d like to say to you.
You were only about 12 or 13 years old but that doesn’t excuse your behavior. You are never too young (or too old0 to be respectful of someone’s differences. I’ve dealt with my fair share of stares and lingering gazes over the years; I’ve heard the questions kids asked their parents about me; I’ve seen kids point in my direction to show their siblings or friends. But never in my 33 years have I witnessed and knew with absolutely certainty that kids were laughing at me and making fun of my looks.
Apparently I spent my entire life isolated in a bubble of naivety that I never seemed to notice these hurtful actions before. Maybe I was always so focused on the task at hand that I missed the mockery. Or maybe I trained myself to ignore it entirely. I noticed it this time though.
Your actions were utterly unnecessary. You wish not to be judged on the color of your skin; I wish not to be judged by my tiny ears and whatever horrific physical flaws you saw in me. I admit to seeing my own imperfections but I’m still at a loss of what you found so damn funny or grotesque or unusual. It’s called Treacher Collins Syndrome. Google it.
I should have stood up for myself. I should have walked right over to you and taught you about respecting other people’s differences. I should have tapped your mom on the shoulder and asked if this was how she raised her sons.
I should have…but I didn’t.
Instead, I shot you an icy gaze straight in the eyes and walked away. I’m not one for confrontation. I don’t like to speak without thinking things through. Words hurt just as much as actions and I’m aware that speaking without thinking first can produce some terrible rhetoric. I didn’t want to be that person who regretted the words that came out of her mouth.
So I walked away. I put down my basket, walked out of the store empty handed, and continued the phone conversation I was having as if my confidence hadn’t just taken a major hit.
I’m making a promise to stand up for myself next time something this egregious happens. I can’t battle bullying by staying silent. If you see me again, do me a favor and act the exact same way. I’m warning you now I will take action. This isn’t just about me. I’m strong; I can handle myself. I can get on with my life. I can become something great in the face of adversity. My future response to your mockery is about everyone you may bully or laugh at on a regular basis. It is about the kids in your class, your neighbor down the street, and maybe even your future children.
Thank you for helping me realize that I’m ready to be the change.