“Do you like my new haircut?” I ask a classmate in my secondary school. I always had short hair but it had grown quite long and was in need of a trim.
She looks up and nods, “Yeah, short hair suits you but I think long hair would too.”
“Really?” I ask and she nods again, “Don’t you like it short?”
“No,” she shook her head, “I do, but not THAT short. it looks a bit like a boy’s.”
I wince at the word boy and I walk off. She looks after me confused as I walk to the toilets. I hadn’t told anyone at secondary what had happened at primary school and why that word haunted me the most…
Starting school is supposed to be the best feeling of your life, especially as I was described as a social butterfly. It wasn’t for me.
I came fresh from nursery where I was the girl leader of an all boys gang which was pretty cool having control over the boys. But because of the boy environment I still had relatively short hair and wore trousers instead of the school skirt. As young kids are generally very stereotypical they assumed I was a boy and despite this I made some good friends. Most of my classmates genuinely thought I was a boy and were not mean about it.
But one day I began getting cornered by two older girls in the year above. They teased me openly in front of my friends who didn’t know how to react as we were all so young. I had to show them my socks every day to prove they were girls socks and silly stuff like that. I tried to ignore it but it was hard. It really got to me especially as it began to get much worse. People were believing them and began teasing me too. My classmates didn’t mean to be rude but many boys insisted I was a boy and wanted me to play with them. I began getting shoved out of the girls toilets being told I wasn’t allowed because I wasn’t a girl and shoved against the fence by boys who thought I’d ‘betrayed’ them by hanging out with girls. As a young child you don’t know what bullying is or what to do about it so it was hard.
My mum began to notice I wasn’t myself anymore and not being so happy about going to school anymore. She managed to sort it out but couldn’t do anything about the mental scars. Despite it being better now and everyone knowing I am a girl, boys asking me out and it being a long time ago it still had a massive impact. I was young but even then I grew my hair long, threw out my trousers and wore dresses and skirts. No-one bothered me but after around 4 years I decided to switch back again. It felt nice at first being back but was ruined in a class discussion. The teacher asked girls to raise their hands if they wanted the life offered on the board and I did so. She looked straight at me and said, “GIRLS dear,” I felt completely crushed and just managed to whisper, “I am a girl Miss,”
That didn’t help my situation and now, 4 years on from that incident, as a young teenager I am still affected. People tell me I don’t dress like normal girls and I am extremely self-conscious which I suspect is from the bullying. I am not bullied anymore but has made me very self-conscious, lower self-esteem and a severe lack of confidence. I am very concerned about my looks and my hair is still short but no-one had mistaken me for a boy since that teacher. I am still affected by people teasing me about the way I look especially if they ask why I have “boy hair” because I am at an all girls school so looks are very important.
I am glad I am through it all and hope never to be bothered by this again. And to others out there in similar situations, stay strong because you’re beautiful.