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Be Careful Who You Bully? No.

I'm hoping this doesn't come off as a frustrated, teenage rant. When I first saw this challenge I began to think about this and more recently, my timeline has been cluttered with these posts. You probably know the sort "Everyone doing it πŸ˜‚πŸ˜© Be careful who you bully challenge πŸ‘€ post 2 pictures of yourself.. 1 old, 1 recent.. Watch how people react to your transformation😷😱😩 Copy this to your pageπŸ˜‡ " .
I was recently tagged and rather than just sit and think about it like a person probably should, I thought that if I can't use this platform to express my concerns with social media, what should I use it for?
Before I get started, I know that the vast majority didn't post these pictures in spite or are in anyway related to what this post is about, I know for a fact my friends have done it to show how they have grown and changed over the years; to be perfectly honest, I think that side of it is sweet. 
What I don't find sweet is this increasingly selective culture of what is and isn't acceptable in a person that I feel many of such tags are based around in reality. 
 A lot of people (especially those that don't know me) seem to assume I'm an incredibly confident person. I took GCSE Performing Arts, I help to teach Musical Theatre, I write articles, I film videos, I speak to new people, I catch trains, I have weekend jobs.
In reality, I feel sick to my stomach doing any of these things but sometimes in life you just have to and I'm never going to get anywhere without doing it. Editing videos, I pretend I'm looking at a different person; I hate how I look on camera and I cringe when I read what I have written - for maybe two years now I've been working on the first chapter of a story because I keep re-reading it and despising it all.
The funny thing is, I went to secondary school with a lot of confidence. I would happily walk up to new people and say hello, I had no problem expressing myself, telling people what I thought. I remember being in the very room I'm writing this in and deciding I would be a singer. Not hoping. Deciding. I vividly recall the words "it doesn't matter what you do, you'll be successful" going through my head aged 11. Looking back now, I feel embarrassed but I really shouldn't. I wish I was still more like that.

The picture on the left was taken when I was maybe 12. Most of the time back then I turned up to school with my hair pulled tightly back in to a pony tail, a makeup-less face and large wads of plastic in my mouth from my block braces. This was probably the end of the confident era, the second year of secondary school.

The picture on the right I took the other day whilst playing around with Snapchat filters. I've changed, I'm an older person, so of course I've changed. I now also have a drawer full of makeup. I started to be more conscious of what I ate and how much I exercised and lost weight and I grew a bit taller. But it really doesn't matter, because that's none of anyone's business. The girl on the left is the same as the girl on the right. I'll never be the prettiest person in the world and in the past I've given myself a really hard time based on what other people thought about me and to some extent I still do. I can't take compliments, I don't understand how people could compliment me most of the time. I don't understand how someone could like the way I look and generally put it down to sarcasm simply because of things said in the past. 

My issue with the challenges such as 'be careful who you bully' and 'don't judge a book by it's cover' (when you literally are judging a person by their looks) is that it seems to encourage this idea that a person who doesn't have perfect skin and a flawless body with amazing eyes and teeth is less worthy of respect than a person with the looks of a supermodel. Be careful who you bully because the nerd might turn beautiful? As if that's the reason you shouldn't bully someone.

I'll never forget the time I heard someone ask the person I sat next to in English if they liked sitting next to me. They said "yeah she's fine but she's not exactly fit''; I remember coming home and crying to my grandma that I had to get good grades because I felt like I had nothing else going for me; I remember looking through photos from family days out hating how I looked and steadily just crawling back in to a shell of complete self doubt because of comments I'd heard at school.

Over the past year or so, I feel better than I did. But like most people, I still walk past a mirror sometimes and shudder or just feel so disgusted in the way I look one day I just don't want to leave the house. The comments people have said over the years still impact me today.

Nowadays I can generally just shake off this sort of thing. I just tried to ignore the 'Don't Judge' challenge but we seem to keep coming up with these ridiculous titles and social media sensations and I'm done pretending that if I was a few years younger again, these tags wouldn't make me feel even worse about myself. To see someone so blatantly state that braces, spots, glasses,certain hair styles are 'ugly' is ringing alarm bells in far fewer people than it should.

No, you shouldn't judge, you shouldn't bully. But it should be because you're a living breathing human, not because a person is suddenly gorgeous. Guess what? They were stunning all along, you were just looking for the wrong things.

Thanks again for reading,


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