October is National Bullying Prevention Month.
I had a childhood bully. I'll never forget his name...David. For as early as I can remember, David bullied me all throughout elementary school. During that time, I lived in a very small town in northern Michigan. My elementary school was small, just one class per grade. We were with the same kids Kindergarten through sixth grade. Aside from my brother who was 5 years older than me, I was the ONLY kid in the entire school with red hair and freckles. My brother was super popular and played sports. I was not popular.
Let me introduce you to David. David was an overweight child, very overweight. He was constantly teased about his weight. The worst for him was during the bus ride to and from school. I felt so bad for him. I remember trying to be friends with him. Well, that didn't work. In fact, he ended up taking all his anger out on me. And it was awful. I remember crying, at least once a week, on the way home from school. The bus was always the prime time for bullying. Being the only red head with freckles in the entire school (after my brother went to junior high), David was able to single me out and torment me. If David had a bad day, then so did I.
David wasn't the only one to single me out in childhood. In fact, teachers did as well. I recall a few times where my second grade teacher would dismiss us for recess by hair color. She'd call blondes and half the class would leave. Then brunettes, and the other half of the class would leave. Then she'd look at me and say "Sorry Tiffany, you're the only redhead". I had another teacher tell me "you'd be really pretty if you have blonde hair instead". There was an incident on the playground where a group of older kids said my freckles looked like someone took a sh*t on my face.
One day in fifth grade, we were asked to write down what we wanted to be when we grew up. While other kids wrote about being a doctor or lawyer, I wrote about wanting to dye my hair blonde and getting my freckles removed. That became my goal for MANY years, even through high school.
My family moved to Pennsylvania when I started junior high. I was terrified to start a new school. The school was MASSIVE, and all I thought was about how many bullies I'd encounter. I was very quiet in school and only had a small circle of friends. I was never invited to parties, never asked to a school dance, not asked to the prom. I stayed to myself and was always worried if people were talking about me. I never really understood why at the time, but it goes back to David in elementary school.
It wasn't until my early twenties that I stopped hating my red hair. I stopped trying to lighten it with blonde highlights. I actually began LOVING it. I would never dream of changing it now. I think it's beautiful. My hair is my THING. I love that my daughter has red hair. I pray that if she is ever teased about it, she is strong enough to still love herself and realize she's beautiful.
My freckles on the other hand...I could still do without them. Maybe keep some, but the rest can go.