My childhood was filled with sunshine, grass, jungle gyms and swimming pools. I had no cares in the world. My mission was to get as dirty as possible and swim until I grew gills. Life was good, pure, innocent and fun.
Until I turned 10.
My body betrayed me and decided it was time for me to become an adult. And on the outside, that was how I looked. I grew breasts and curvy hips. Inside, however, I was still a child.
An outgoing child, at that. I didn’t always fit in at school, but I always tried. I was gregarious and fun loving. I liked attention and wanted people to like me.
So when the boys of my school (K-7th grade) started paying attention to me, smiling at me, whistling at me — I smiled back. I waved and said hi. I mean, maybe I looked like a woman on the outside, but at home, I was still riding bikes, exploring the neighborhood and playing with dolls.
The intentions of these boys never crossed my mind. Honestly…remember I was 10 years old. TEN FUCKING YEARS OLD.
Suddently, I started noticing strange behavior around me at school. It started with girls looking at me with “side eye” or pointing and whispering something to their friends. My own friends (such as they were) withdrew. I would walk down the hall, feeling paranoid. What had I done wrong?
Next, came the name calling. Slut. Whore. Girls would get right in my face or back me against the wall and tell me I better stay the fuck away from their boyfriends. I hadn’t had contact with anyone’s boyfriend. I hadn’t even been kissed.
Eventually, I began to realize what was going on. Being one of the first girls to develop, boys took notice. And boys of that age (10–13) acted as boys often will, when they are around other boys and looking at a female. Unwittingly, I encouraged this behavior, not realizing what it was. My ten year old brain was just happy to have more potential friends and nothing more. However, the girls, witnessing what they believed was flirtation on my part…hated me. Pack mentality took over and I was alienated.
From age 10 forward, I was branded a slut, whore and bitch. Rumors of my various exploits abounded. My name was written on the bathroom walls, both in school and at local hangouts. People rolled my house, called my home phone and told me to die. I had hoped that once I started Junior High (grades 8 and 9) this would all be left behind, but it only became worse. Instead of the students at just my elementary school harassing me daily, it was the students of about 7 elementary schools, all funneled into one Junior High, and under one roof.
It starts young people — it’s not just the teenagers anymore.
So to my classmates (5th, 6th, and 7th graders) of my elementary school…congratulations…you have the fine distinction of being reason number 1.