You’re the ugly one. Ugly on the inside.

You’re the ugly one. Ugly on the inside.

She was a shy, mousy-looking little thing. Unlike the other kids in the mall who were in groups, she walked alone, kept head down, and moved quickly. The group by the cafe saw her first and the tallest boy pointed at her.

I kept on with my regular mid-week shopping and met her again in the bookstore. Ironically, it was the only store that the after school kids didn’t frequent. We were both in the fiction section, I looking for the book of the month and she was looking at historical fiction. Suddenly, the store is loud and the group of kids with the tall boy who was pointing at her saunters in. I glance over to her and I can see her tense up. I could bet all the money in my pocket book that they have harassed and heckled her before, tall boy most likely being the lead bully.

He walks over, pretends to be reading the back of a book and I’m fighting to mind my own business. The former teacher in me heightens. I’ve seen it before. The intimidation and the bullying. He walks down the row and bumps her and she drops the book. His ‘crew’ begins to laugh.

Hey Keisha, you’re so fugly with your big forehead. Loser. Four-eyed freak. His pack of hyenas laughs again and he saunters out, they in tow. The tears run down her face. She doesn’t even bother to pick up the book, but runs out the store, knocking over the discounted books stand at the door. She stops to pick these up and bully boy and his crew roar harder.

I’m mad as a hatter now. It’s not my fight but I’ve been that girl. I’ve been bullied teased and made to feel like I didn’t want to go back to school. I walk over to him. Immediate silence. Remember, you’re the adult, I say to myself. I’m so mad I want to shake sense into him. Childhood memories now fully awakened in me.

You feel good about yourself, Tall Boy, I ask? He stares at me. Does it make you feel better and superior making her feel embarrassed and on edge? His mouth is open, yet no words come out. You know what, your parents would be so embarrassed of you right now. I’m sure of it. You know what, if picking on her makes you feel better about yourself and makes you feel hip and cool to your entourage then I feel sorry for you because obviously, you’re the ugly one. Ugly on the inside. One guy snickers and the other three disappear into the after school mall crowd. He walks away muttering unmentionables under his breath.

I turn to her, where she and the store manager are busy picking up books. She smiles. Don’t let them break you honey and don’t believe the things he said, I say to her. She nods her head and I walk away.

It was not my fight and it was not my business but I’m so sick and tired of the constant bullying in schools and the workplace. It’s damaging. It hurts and some people can’t handle it and end up being defined well into adulthood by their bullying experiences. So come to think of it, it was my fight. We all need to stand up for those too paralyzed by fear to stand up for themselves. To stand by and say nothing is just as bad as the act of bullying itself.

Carlana Charles is the visionary and editor-in-chief of FemmePowered. She is a womanist, writer, speaker, story midwife and facilitator of meaningful and engaging conversations. When she is not working in or on FemmePowered, she can be found resting, baking, reading or scribbling furiously in her journal whilst sipping wine or coffee, sometimes both at the same time. She is currently working on her first book and hopes to release it in September 2017.
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20 Comments

  1. November 2, 2016 / 2:31 pm

    This broke my heart because I too used to be the girl in the bookstore. Sadly bullying won’t ever go away and with social media the kids today have it even worst. Thank you for sticking up for that girl and making it just a little better for her!

    • November 2, 2016 / 4:45 pm

      Hey Ashleigh – I worry about these kids, you know. It’s a scary time for them as the avenues for bullying have opened up like never before, thanks to the internet.

  2. November 2, 2016 / 5:46 pm

    Some have called me crazy, but I typically don’t hesitate to stand up for the victim. Thank goodness you did. Well done!

  3. November 2, 2016 / 8:47 pm

    Both my daughters were bullied and it was rough on me. This story was painful for me.

    • November 2, 2016 / 9:05 pm

      Sigh, I know. Teach them to be resilient and affirm them.

  4. November 2, 2016 / 9:10 pm

    You did the right thing, you can’t change what happened. But she will forever remember you for coming to her aid without being asked. I hope that it makes him think twice the next time he thinks to bully someone.

    If we don’t say something, we are a part of the problem as well.

    • November 3, 2016 / 7:05 am

      Yes; when we ignore we are complicit.

  5. November 2, 2016 / 10:34 pm

    I am ALWAYS that mom that says something. I feel like I’m in an episode of “What Would You Do” and don’t want John Quiñones to jump out and berate me for not speaking up. Good job on standing up for her.

    • November 3, 2016 / 7:05 am

      Haha. He’s like the good angel on your shoulder. Love his show!

  6. November 3, 2016 / 4:38 pm

    Bullying is never cool. More people should step up.

  7. November 3, 2016 / 7:51 pm

    Kudos to you! I’m so sick of hearing stories like these. Just yesterday I read a story of an 11-year-old girl who survived brain cancer as a toddler. As a result, she had a disfigured face and the kids relentlessly picked on her. She was 11 and she killed herself with a shotgun after telling her friend on the school bus that she loved her and that she was going to kill herself when she got home. Stuff like this makes my heart hurt!

    • November 4, 2016 / 10:57 am

      OMG – This breaks my heart open. The bullying has to end.

  8. Jennifer Hamra
    November 4, 2016 / 2:30 am

    Good for you for speaking up for her. You could have actually really helped her. It breaks my heart to know a group of kids were harassing this young woman and bullying her. I remember being bullied in middle school and part of high school. I never had the courage to tell an adult. I wish I would have.

    • November 4, 2016 / 10:28 am

      We should all help when we can.

  9. November 4, 2016 / 8:43 am

    Awesome post! Unfortunately, bullying is real! I’m glad you decided to not mind your business and stand up for her. It’s sad. I would have had to have a talk with myself as well because like you I would have wanted to shake some sense into him and my words may not have come across the right way with incidents such as these. Thanks for sharing!

  10. November 4, 2016 / 9:28 am

    I love your writing style. It’s more like you’re telling a story than just giving an opinion or list of facts or ideas. And you’re right. Bullying is definitely something we’ve all dealt with at some point of another. It’s an unfortunate reality because it happens as children and as adults. You can always tell that the culprits have been poorly treated themselves. But it’s necessary to stand up for people who are attacked in this way. People shouldn’t feel alone in these situations. Thank you for sharing this.

    • November 4, 2016 / 10:27 am

      Thank you! the writing style is something I’ve been working on. Glad you liked it.

  11. November 6, 2016 / 6:40 pm

    Good for you! I hate when people are being badly and would have stood up for her too!

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