No parent wants their child to come home and cry that they’re being bullied. They do not want to hear how their baby, whom they loved and raised, is being teased for not having the latest style or following a trend. As ridiculous as it sounds, a child can be bullied by their peers if they are not wearing the fashion of the minute. Out of fear, some parents will overspend, even go into debt so their children are wearing expensive fashion of the moment, so they fit in with their peers. However, this sends a clear message to the child, to follow what other’s tell them is the right thing to do. We want to raise independent children who know the value of a dollar and children whose personal creativity should shine. WE want our children to be individuals and stand out verses fit in.
Growing up as a child in the early 90s, many pre- teens were dressing in their baggy jeans and band tee shirts. Children as young as eleven wore heavy eyeliner and mascara. The world of a certain young twelve year old is already confusing enough, but many girls quickly traded their pig tails for doc martins over a summer. It was the age to start growing up, but not growing out.
A new girl came to school. Her ensemble was definitely not a band tee shirt and jeans. She knew old jazz music over the musings of Smashing Pumpkins. She wore acid wash jeans and a jean jacket. She would make funky jewelry and put decorative pieces in her hair. She was 5’6 and a size zero. She had an angelic face and an idea for her future. She had started at a new school after moving from the city to the suburbs. In our small town, you had seen one fashionable twelve year old, you had seen them all. They were not as accepting as the barrage of city trends that exist.
She walked in being nothing but kind. Her outfit was funky and exuded her personality. The other band tee-shirted mascara smeared girls teased and ridiculed her for being different. Any adult could see that these little suburban girls were intimidated by her confidence and big city dreams. She wanted to be a model and a fashion designer. They would tell her she was not pretty enough and too ugly and skinny. Although her mother could have jumped on the bandwagon and rushed her to the mall to buy her those doc martins and a band tee shirt, she did not. Her daughter was teased. Her daughter got stronger. Her daughter went to high school and made a lot of friends. She started a fashion club and helped with annual fashion shows. She left high school and moved to New York. She became a model and a fashion designer. That skinny sized zero beauty also had a heart. She could have easily designed for sized zero models like herself, but she chose again, to go against the grain and make fashion for beautiful plus sized women. Her mom is proud.
The other suburban girls (not naming any names) grew up to find nice normal jobs in nice normal towns. She, however, holds no grudge and also has a beautiful family in New York City, doing what she loves for a cliental she loves.
Sometimes as parents, when our children are being teased, we quickly want our child to fit in. No parent should accept or allow their child to be bullied. However, we should encourage our children to follow their dreams, even though their peers may not believe in them. “She” is a real person, but we will choose not to use her name because there is at least one “she or even “he” in every classroom in every school across the country. “He” or “she” is probably your child. So embrace the different and don’t be afraid to stand against the grain. You have no idea what kind of super hero you might be raising.
*If your child or someone you know is experiencing any sort of bullying, immediately contact school officials or reach out to a children’s help line. As parents, we have ZERO tolerance for bullying. You could save a life.*