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At the age of five, I started school. Before school, I had always seen myself as a cheerful kid. I never really experienced anyone getting bullied or being bullied until I was a little older. At the age of nine, I experienced bullying for the first time. 

I was in third grade and my bullies were fourth and fifth graders. One day on the bus, a boy kept hitting me with a lacrosse stick, and a couple of girls said really mean things to me like, “You’re ugly” or “You’re stupid.” They then proceeded to take my bookbag and throw everything out the window, including my glasses. I never felt so sorrowful and heated on the inside. I wanted to fight them all, but I also wanted to disappear.

In middle school, I started getting bullied for being “too skinny.” Kids would make fun of me because my school uniform was too baggy on me. They would always tease me with food, calling me “anorexic” and telling me that I needed to eat. One day a boy said to me, “You’re so ugly and skinny. You will never gain any weight.” Ever since that day, I took it upon myself to prove my bullies wrong. I tried to change the way that I looked so that people would stop making fun of me. I would eat McDonald’s and chips every day so that I could gain weight, but nothing ever worked. I liked Mcdonald’s, but eating it every day eventually got nasty to me so I stopped. I had a fast metabolism, and people in my family weren’t really on the bigger side, so being skinny was normal in my family. I couldn’t do anything about it. 

High school wasn’t any different. I was still being told that I was skinny and that I was ugly, mostly by boys. Social media also played a big role in my insecurities because I saw all these pretty girls with great bodies on Facebook and Instagram and then there was me -- just skinny. For years I tried to change myself and gain weight, and one day I saw that I did gain some weight. I was so happy because my bullies said that I wouldn’t gain any weight and I did. 

Eventually, the skinny jokes got old and didn’t bother me anymore because I already knew that I was skinny. I realized that I shouldn’t care about what others think and that I should appreciate my body more. For years I tried to change the way that I looked so that others would appreciate me, like the pretty girls in school or on social media, but really appreciating yourself is all you need. 

I woke up one day, looked in the mirror, and told myself that I am beautiful whether I am skinny or not and that I should appreciate myself more. I shouldn’t care about what others have to say. 

Self-love is the best kind of love you can give yourself. Today, I am more confident with myself and my body than I was before. I learned that you shouldn’t try to change yourself for others, you should always love yourself for who you are, and you should love the skin that you are in.

© Savanna Martinez . 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.