This essay was written by a student at Mighty Writers, an education nonprofit that offers free writing classes to over 2,500 inner-city Philadelphia students a year.
“Beautiful people are not always good, but good people are always beautiful” — Ali ibn Abi Talib
This quote is very inspirational to me. Its meaning enlightens me and always encourages me to do better. The quote, in my opinion, means that not everyone has a pure heart. That beauty comes from your deeds, not from your looks, and that no one can tell you otherwise. But, in my past, I’ve had a hard time not letting people's opinions on my looks affect me. But one day, I let the comments affect me to a point that they controlled the way I functioned.
It all started in 6th grade. I was in my classroom doing my assignment and socializing with my friends. Like regular 6th grade girls, we gossiped about our mean teachers or the cool things we did over the weekend. And during that time, another group was gossiping about someone in class. The group was considered to be the popular kids and they ran the class. I never really liked them because they were rude to the other students. As I walked over to turn in my assignment, I heard one of the girls trying to make a display of humor about my teeth. I completely shut down. I was always sensitive when people talked about my overbite. I would be called beaver, rabbit, mouse, and many anoter insults. It was never a shock because I always knew someone was going to point out my flaw and use it as a joke.
Out of anger, I confronted the girl and tried to use a subtle approach. But she kept bringing the insults. At one point, she said something that made me cry. Her exact words were, “Don’t get mad at me because you’re an ugly b*tch!” Those words made me feel embarrassed. Her group started to laugh; what's so funny about calling someone ugly? I was thinking some many things at that moment. I wanted to hide. I wanted to run and hide. To hide somewhere no one could see me. But I couldn’t move. I just watched them laugh.
When the school day finished, I went home very upset. I was filled with many emotions. I wanted to lock myself in my room and stay there until the schooled ended. I started to question myself. Of all the years of teasing and mean jokes, I never let it get to me. But for some reason I let those words effect me and I started to think I was ugly.
Does this negative experience affect me now as an 8th grader? Yes. I still feel uncomfortable whenever I see beauty shows or advertisements. I always second-guess myself and I try to be a people-pleaser sometimes. Yet I’m going to therapy and trying to work on myself. I’m trying to work on my confidence and develop a positive mood for myself.
Do I feel like I matured a little from the experience? Most definitely. I try to stay positive and brush off any negative issues. I try to hang out with people who can help support me and lead me in the right direction.
My message is: Don’t let anyone define who you are. Don’t let them label you as a person. Create your own path in life and follow it. Don’t let anyone ruin your experience to live.
My name is Aminah Muhammad and that's my story.
By Aminah Muhammed, 8th grade Mighty Writer
Top photo by Anastasia Zhenina from Pexels
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Mighty Writers was founded in 2009 with the mission to teach kids to think clearly and write with clarity. The organization offers free programs for students from elementary through high school at centers in four diverse Philadelphia neighborhoods, including one bilingual location for Spanish-speaking students. Follow Mighty Writers at MightyWriters.org, on Facebook, and on Twitter @MightyWriters.