“Guest Blog” Miss Piggy, The Story of a Bullied Girl

I am originally from Eastern Europe. I came to America 7 years ago. I was bullied and emotionally tortured by the popular kids in my classes. This affected my self-esteem and my mental health already shaken by genetics (my mother suffered with anxiety and agoraphobia.) At 16 years old, I developed a severe case of generalized anxiety and depression. There was not much help for those bearing mental struggles, only strong sedatives.

I wish I could have been able to see a trained therapist and talk about my feelings at school with a school counselor. I wished at that time, that the Principal would listen and act against the bullies. It did not happen. I felt very lonely through it all. I promised myself to somehow see that no student feels this way in the future.

This is an excerpt from my diary during the high school years. I was bullied daily. What’s really sad is that my self-esteem was so bad. I truly believed that I am worthless. I was convinced that I deserve to be teased that way. I felt that it is my fault that THEY laughed at me!  I was mad at myself for not having the will power to lose weight.

Wed., May 15th 

Dear diary, New nick name

I am in the bathroom eating my lunch. Lately, this is the only place I can eat. Why? Simply stated: How can I eat this huge sandwich that can hardly fit into my mouth and not get teased? Also, today I have in my lunch 2 croissants filled with chocolate and 2 candy bars. It’s totally my fault!  Someone like me should bring no lunch, or maybe some veggies and fruit.

Yesterday THEY gave me a new nick name. I’m not “The Whale” anymore. I guess they got bored calling me “Whale” so I take it as a promotion. My new nick name is “Miss Piggy.” The one who called me that first, was “kind” enough to give me the explanation, as well.

He said: “Obviously Miss Piggy is fat, just like you. She has the thick, blond and fluffy hair, he said, the chubby nose, and when she laughs she throws her head on the back just like you do.”  Well, at least now I know where  it’s coming from. Honestly, I don’t recall laughing lately in front of THEM. I avoid laughing, because one of THEM told me that when I laugh my double chin wiggles. I got home that day and looked in the mirror. I pretended to laugh, while watching my double chin do that little dance. My 85-year-old grandmother thought I lost it. She asked me to stop laughing in the mirror or she will call my parents at work. I stopped.

Thursday, May, 16th

Dear diary,

My life sucks!

Yesterday while I was in the bathroom, devouring my second croissant some girl from my class asked me why I’m eating there. I told her the truth…as if it wasn’t obvious…she rushed out and a few minutes later 2 guys crushed into the girl’s bathroom and took a picture of me stuffing my face. I wonder what they are going to do with the picture?

I want to disappear. I don’t want to kill myself. I just want to become invisible. Some people complain about being “invisible.” Well, for me that would be the cure for my disease.

Monday (no date)

Dear diary,

I am on the bus on the way to school. I have that weird feeling in my stomach, that feeling you get when you sense something will go wrong.

Later that day…

I can’t believe it! Pictures of me eating in the bathroom are everywhere. On the picture it is written with sharpie: Miss Piggy eating in the stinky bathroom…gross!

I feel like I want to run, but where am I going to run? It is all my fault! If I would be skinny they would not treat me this way!

The 20% Teens Don’t Tell Their Parents

I have to say, one of my favorite questions to ask a teens is “What percentage of information do you not share with your parents?”  I get a lot of surprised looks from teens when I ask this question, but none of them refuse to answer. If fact, just the opposite. They want to tell me. Usually they take a moment, and with a smirk on their face…..they say “20%”.  Now this 20% usually relates to one of more of the following areas, so parents take note.

1) Friends– Do you know all of your teen’s friends? Probably not, but I’m sure you are aware of the ones getting good grades and playing on the soccer team. What about the other friends…. the ones smoking, getting kicked out of school or passing out at the party. These are the friends that your teen knows you wouldn’t approve of and so they don’t tell you about them. However, these friends are highly influential with your teen.

2) Drinking/alcohol- I have yet to hear one story from a teen where alcohol was NOT at the party.  Your teen may or may not choose to drink, but the alcohol is ever present.  They are usually attending the parties because that is what one does to be “popular” in high school.  If they don’t want to drink, the smart ones designate themselves as the driver, so they don’t get peer pressured into a drinking game or a bottle of beer.

3) Stress/anxiety- Kids today are stressed out.  I’m not really sure how or when this happened, but they are all constantly talking about how stressed out they are. Their anxiety usually relates to school and getting good grades if college is on their mind. Or it’s related to  being well liked by their peers and socially accepted by those in class or on their team. Plainly put….being popular. This anxiety occupies a lot of their time.

4) Boys- Girls worry or “wonder” about boys. It’s a fact. Having a boyfriend, not having a boyfriend and the expectations from boys these days. Many girls are seeking advice, but don’t know where to go.  Even if your teen tells you that they don’t care, trust me…it’s on their mind.

5) Body image– I’d say at least 90% of the girls I have spoken with, wish they were thinner.  At least 50% of those same girls also have experienced eating disorders at one time. Many feel a silent pressure from media, friends, and/or family about being disciplined, staying thin and not over indulging.

Teens today don’t want to bother their parents with these issues. They see their parents as too busy, stressed out, working late and don’t want to burden them.  So, they are constantly saying that “everything is fine” when in fact, it’s not.  They are worrying about a lot of things on the inside, but you would never know it. Why? Because they don’t want you to see it.  In the words of one 16 yr. old teen that I interviewed, “you can hide a lot behind a smile.”

Parents, take the time to sit down with your teen and talk to them. Don’t let them off the hook so easily when they say “everything is fine.” Let them see that you care about this 20% and that you are there for them.

The Duck Syndrome (Anxiety and Perfectionism Among Young Women)

Recently, I learned about the duck syndrome from a friend of mine at Stanford University. The duck syndrome is apparently running rampant at many colleges (and from my research) at many high schools as well. What is the duck syndrome? Well, think of the duck gliding along the water. She looks very serene, calm and pleasant. Then, look under the water and s/he is paddling frantically. That is the duck syndrome. Too many students on the outside are appearing calm, cool and collected while on the inside they are completely stressed out.  As women, we want to see ourselves being able to have it all.  To be the great student, great athlete, and well-liked by her peers, which typically means being social. But what price do we pay?  Proving we can do it all has transformed into an ugly state of unattainable expectations and extremes, which are unhealthy for any girl at any age. This is a recipe for disaster that really goes against what feminism truly stands for.

I believe high school is where this syndrome starts to formulate. Many of the girls that suffer from the duck syndrome in college were probably “big fish in small pond” at their high school. Most teens want to be popular, and to be popular these days means that you can do it all. I see high school students staying up ridiculously late doing homework, always wanting the A, playing on one if not two sports teams, and also expecting to go out every weekend. All this can lead to anxiety, depression, and unhealthy habits. When they get to college, which could have 12 to 20,000 students, being big fish is not so easy anymore so the stakes get higher.  During college, the classes (typically) are more difficult with more homework, papers and tests. If they see their peers staying out late and still getting good grades, they feel the peer pressure to attain the same and compete among the top percent,  to be popular, to be perfect. This means more competition and pressure for top grades with less sleep.  We need to teach our teens that setting limits for themselves never means failure, but in fact it means a healthy and happy life with realistic and attainable goals. Paddling frantically is literally for the birds.