We Are America

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Photo ofSamantha Montesinos

I’m fat. I’m petite. I’m not beautiful enough. I’m an eight-year-old girl about to start third grade. I wasn’t really excited and I remember tell- ing my mom,“Ma yo no quiero ir a la escuela.” “Pero porqué no si vas a  ver a los mismos niños que siempre!” exclaimed my mom.  I had to force myself to go to school even though I knew I was going to see the same people, the same people I often used to compare myself. I wasn’t happy enough about how I looked because a few of the girls from second grade looked so skinny and perfect. They had all the attention of the guys at my school. I knew I hadn’t changed; I was the same girl who wouldn’t have enough friends to talk to. While I was on the bus I was thinking, “Que tal si mis amigas ya no quieren estar conmigo? Con quien voy a estar?”  I was so nervous that when I got off the bus I walked as slow as possible to avoid getting in the class line on time. Thankfully there was one girl who had been my friend for almost three years. When it was recess, I had this wariness that the girls from a different class would talk about the way I looked and dressed. Every time I’d look to where they were they would give me dirty looks, looking up and down at me and then looking at each other while they pointed at me. After school, I would tell my mom that my day went great, but in reality, I carried a tremendous amount of shame. I remember looking at myself in the mirror and wondering if I would ever be perfect as the other girls.  My mom would ask me, “Sammy, donde estas? Que estas haciendo.” “Nada ma. Nada más estoy en el cuarto buscando algo,” I would respond. At school, I stopped eating because I thought that it would help me lose weight and become a little thinner. My mom started to notice that I was getting pickier with my food and later that day she asked, “Sammy, te sientes bien?”  I would just shake my head and pretend like I was fine, even though I wasn’t. She didn’t believe me and knew I lied to her. One day she found a letter say- ing, “I want to be skinny like the other girls.” My mom showed me it and I was scared that she was going to get mad at me. Thankfully she only said, “No pienses asi porque tu eres perfecta como sea.”  After hearing those words I ended up crying because I knew that my mom cared for me and that she loved me for being myself and not another person who wasn’t me. I knew that I had to stop thinking that others are perfect and I needed to change myself to be better.  Now that I’m a fourteen-year-old, I understand that it’s not correct to believe that I should be skinny and perfect. I should be happy for the way I am because coming to high school I see that there’s many variations of height, ethnicity, and body shape. As I walk through the hallways I think how much I’ve changed since third grade because I used to think I wasn’t perfect and that it was always a thought that haunted me for years. Now I had the pow- er to make all my horrible thinking disappear and turn it into something positive which makes me happy for who I am and I can see that I’m already perfect. 

© Samantha Montesinos. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.