students collaborate: liz johnson and hanna todd
Lest any readers think teenagers in Jackson are immune from the pressures of the world, this series of stories from JH Community School students will enlighten you. Here is a story by Hanna Todd about bullying and female self-esteem written in conjunction with a photo by student Liz Johnson.
Skinny Feet by Hanna Todd
I threw my bag into the wall and kicked off my shoes. Staring down at the phone in my hand, I deleted the text I received just before coming through the door. I held back stinging tears and let my hair hang in front of in my face. Shuffling across the gray stained, carpeted floor, I passed through the hallway down into my room.
I quietly shut the door. I turned around and headed towards my closet, sifting my pink cold hands through the garments that colorfully hung on wire hangers. I slipped a finger into each collar of ever shirt, flipping the tag so that I could scan the number sewn into it. L,L,L, an occasional M. Crouching down, I checked the size of each shoe, the brown Uggs, Nikes and beaten up Converse; all 9’s, some of the shoes torn and stretched by the size of my feet.
No longer could I hold the tears back, they fell towards earth, falling on my jeans, creating a spattered, wet design across the stitches. Laying on my back, tendrils of hair strewn about my face, I let my chest heave with every silent sob, the tears still coming and blurring my vision. I swept my hands over my stomach, felt each damning roll of skin that made me feel such pain. My hands drifted to my sides, my hips, scouring for anything reminiscent to an hourglass figure. I couldn’t even feel bone; I let my hands fall to the floor.
“I’ve tried… I’ve tried so hard…” I whisper, close my eyes and rejoice in the darkness.
I was never popular. I wasn’t the person that every person craved attention from. I never wanted to be anyways, but the doesn’t make up for the things I am. I am fat, and that makes me unattractive, shunned, a freak. And no matter what I try, I will never be part of the social norm. Every other girl is thin, or at least thinner than I am, and they mock me for being this way. If I eat the smallest salad, or a power bar the size of my pinky finger, I can hear their taunts from behind. “God she’s eating again?” “How can she live with herself being such a pig?” “She’s like a beached whale.”
I remember when I was young, I was always a big kid. Once, when it was recess, I was in line for the teeter-totter, and when it finally got to be my turn, a teacher held me back and said, “This is only for little kids. You’re too big.” At the time I was the youngest in my class.
Nowadays I sit alone and try to hide myself from the others. Usually I get through the days by excusing myself from lunch or other social gatherings to work on homework. But it’s during the periods between classes, when I can feel their eyes on my back, hear their whispers whispering in my ears clearer than ever. I never feel safe here.
I was picking at my salad during lunch, alone at the end of a table. I had my earphones jammed in my ears so I could drown out the noise from the lunchroom. I wish I had noticed what was going on around me, but then all I was focused on was the slimy spinach skewered on my fork. It happened so fast, that I, at first, didn’t know what was going on. Blue slurry dripped down my head, drenching my hair, running down my nose. I sat there with my jaw hanging open my hands held out in front of me. Slowly I turned my head and saw two guys I didn’t even know choking on laughter. I felt the tears well up, and I closed my eyes to hold them back. I jerked out of my seat, earphones falling out and ran to the bathroom. I heard the guys call after me, “Why don’t you wash yourself in the toilet, then you’ll smell like the pig you are”. No one ran after me.
Later that day I crept home, hair still sticky and blue tinged. Mom wasn’t home, so I didn’t have to deal with a confrontation. Running into the bathroom I stripped myself and flung myself into the shower. Turning the water up high, I watched my pale skin turn pink to red, but I liked it. Liked not having to feel something other than sorrow. I looked down at the drain between my feet, the water mixing with blue. I looked at my feet, wide and ugly, veins popping out beneath the surface of my skin. That whole time in the shower I thought about how ugly they were, how ugly I was. I didn’t realize I was crying until I got out and saw that my eyes were red in the mirror.
I pressed my fingers into my face, cheeks molding in the space between them. I frowned, sighed, and closed my eyes. When I opened them, they landed on a red toothbrush that lay next to the sink. The possibility of me turning away from what I was going to do next was zero.
Fingers quivering, mouth open, I forced the red handle into the back of my throat. My eyes widened and in a second, I was bent over, head in the toilet. Although it hurt so much, I did it again and again until there was nothing left in my stomach. Heaving, gulping in air, I compared my life to how I was at that moment. I saw nothing different. It seemed like I always had my head in a toilet.