Her letter came via snail mail. She’s 16. Her beautiful handwriting makes my own penmanship look like chicken fertilizer.
She’s an exceptional kid. Wants to be a graphic designer one day. Loves horses. Favorite book is “Huckleberry Finn.” Her favorite author is Mark Twain.
We’ll call her Becky.
“Dear Sean,” Becky’s letter began, “why are people so mean on social media…?”
It all started this summer. Becky posted pictures online. They were images her mom took while she was at the lake with friends.
Four teenage girls with arms draped around each other. Smiling. They wore modest bathing suits. They were eating ice cream. Normal kids. Just having fun.
The images received fistfuls of hateful comments from some of Becky’s classmates online. It really hurt.
“We’re not the tiniest girls in school,” she wrote. “I’m overweight and I’m not super pretty, but people were so mean that I literally wanted to die.”
There were over 73 ugly comments on Becky’s post. It started with kids she knew, then the remarks were coming from people she’d never met.
She finally took
the photos down.
“Help me deal with haters,” Becky wrote. “I feel so bad about myself.”
I can relate to what you’re feeling, Becky. I was a child who never seemed to fit the mold. I had a wider waistline than most of my peers. My childhood doctor actually told me, point-blank, that I was overweight.
The exact word he used was the F word.
He laughed endearingly as he pinched my pink tummy and said, “Good heavens, this boy is FAT.”
He told me to be more active, to take better care of myself, to eat better, to consume less sugar, and then he lit another unfiltered Camel and offered the nurse one.
So I disliked myself, growing up. Which made me a prime target for bullies. To make matters worse, I wore godawful jeans my mom purchased from…