Body Image & Peer Pressure At School

mental health

This week is Mental Health Awareness week, the theme this year is Body Image. The way bullies treated me through my school life really had a massive negative affected on my mental health and how I saw myself compared to my peer group . It still affects me to this day.

Growing up at school with a disability was very hard for me . I looked different from my peer group as I wore a leg splint on my right leg . I couldn’t wear girls shoes as my splint couldn’t fit into many shoes at all sob I had to wear boys school shoes. I remember their came a time when I had to wear trainers to school and I got picked on a lot because my peer group didn’t understand why I could wear trainers and they couldn’t. I’d get called a teachers pet in class all the time.

I remember I would get bullied because of the designs I had on my splint other kids would say they were childish.As well as calling and shouting out words down the corridor when they saw me from “cripple”or a “spastic” to telling me they would cut off my legs. The bullying from wearing a splint got so bad I decided I wouldn’t wear a skirt to school so that my splint wouldn’t show so much. But of course when it came to summer and the warm weather other girls would bully me for not wearing a skirt but instead still wearing trousers like I did in the colder months. I remember this one time when I took off my splint because sometimes it would rub so much and my foot would be red and sore and another student told me they would break my leg so I wouldn’t need to wear a splint. When I came home at the end of the day I would wish I didn’t have to wear one in the hope the bullies would stop. I just wanted to feel accepted and normal.

Unfortunately the bullying didn’t stop their I was also bullied for having curly hair . At school I remember it was really fashionable to have straight hair, however mine was curly. I remember I used to think I was friends with these’s other girls who were popular. They would pour hot and fizzy drinks in my hair and tell me it was shampoo and that I needed to straighten it. But when I did straighten it they would always say it wasn’t straight enough. Having curly hair really affected me for a very long time but now I am on a journey to loving my natural curly hair but that’s a whole different post in it’s self.

One other massive thing that affected my body confidence growing up was having facial hair. I got bullied loads because of it, not just my peer group or other students in different years but also by some members of staff. Bullies made my life miserable. I began to feel scared just at the thought of having to go to school and knowing people would laugh and point. Walking down the corridors or going to the canteen for lunch was so horrible and scary I was always on edge. Other students would shout at me from down the corridors and call me names like Frida Kahlo. I remember this group of girls who threatened to pour acid on me if I didn’t get rid of it. Other students started to try and make rumours about me; I would sometimes just hear people laughing at me as I walked past as I was trying not to make eye contact wishing the ground would swallow me up.

Harnaam Kaur photo from Instagram.

One of my helpers was really lovely and tried to help me. I remember the day she told me one day about a lady called Harnaam Kaur. Harnaam Kaur also known as the bearded dame is a body positivity warrior and activist. She has a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome at the age of 16 she decided to embrace herself for who she is. She stopped removing her facial hair just because others didn’t like it.

Harnaam really helped me to not feel like a freak and that I wasn’t alone. Bullies made me want to end my life. With all the horrible things that happened to me at school. However Harnaam helped me to stay true to myself. I now get rid of my facial hair but because I want to not because I feel I have to in order to please others!

Though what happened to me was horrible I am now on a never ending journey with trying to be more body positive as well as building up my self -esteem, confidence and self worth.

Find out more about body image: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/body-image-report/exec-summary

The House Of Extraordinary People TV Programme : Why I Think Shows Like This Are So Important

mental health

The House Of Extraordinary People Channel 5. Photo from https://www.whatsontv.co.uk/events/house-extraordinary-people-channel-5-18-mar-19/

The House Of Extraordinary People is a three part documentary on Channel 5. The show follows 9 people with unusual appearances which challenge the views on what “beauty ” is and it really means in today’s society. They live together for 10 days confronting public prejudices and facing their own biggest fears but giving each other support throughout the whole time.

From getting jobs at restaurants interacting with members of the public to going for a spa day and letting spa staff do beauty treatments on them. As well as doing a bit of speed dating.

Watching this documentary really helped me to feel more self confident in myself and I wish shows like this were more around when I was at secondary school. By watching this documentary it made me feel that I am not alone and that I’m not such an outsider. Throughout my school years I was very badly bullied because of my disability and the way I looked compared to other girls in my year. Other students made me feel like a freak. Going through all of this everyday at school and sometimes on social media made me want to end my life.

At school I felt that I had a lot of peer pressure from the way I dressed to how I had my hair or the shoes I wore to even who I was and wasn’t allowed to speak too. Otherwise I would be dropped out of what I thought at the time was my friendship group. I think even now the level of peer pressure for young people has grown massively and it will continue to do so and the pressure will get worse.

This documentary really helped me to celebrate rather than hate the things that make me unique. I think that documentary’s like this one should be shown to students in their lessons as I feel it could really help to build up confidence and self love. I also think this would help children and young adults to realise that we all come in all different shapes and sizes and we all can look different and that shouldn’t be frowned upon.

I think children should be taught about how everyone is different and beautiful in their own way at primary school as I feel this effects more younger children than we think. I also think that if children go through bad experiences because of how they or others feel about them or see them can have a huge negative impact on the child’s life many more years down the line.

Throughout my life I have had low body confidence, low self esteem, low self worth to name a few. Their were times I wished I looked more “normal” that I fitted in or that I looked like the girls in magazines to celebrities I thought were really pretty. I just hated the way I looked I found it hard to look in the mirror everything I saw on myself I hated and I wished I could change it. I feel if documentaries like this one was shown to me by school I would have understood more and believed that their is no definition on what “beautiful ” is because we all have different ways we see beauty in ourselves and others.

Lastly this show has helped me to really embrace myself for who I am on the inside it’s not only about the way we look on the outside. I believe more documentaries like this one should be made as I think it would help people of all ages with their own mental health.