*This story contains some sensitive teen issues and questions teens have about self esteem and body image.
"Are you there, God? It's me, Geek Girl."
My name is Mary Margaret. I am twelve and a half years old. I grew up in this town and I have attended Catholic school for six years. Both of my parents are Catholic, but my Mom is the devoted member of the Catholic Church. She attends Church weekly and I go happily along with my brothers and sisters. My father chooses to stay home on Sundays with his coffee and the paper. He smiles and says the Nuns will pray for his soul. I will pray for his soul too. My Dad is a doctor and he works very hard, so I figure if he wants Sundays to himself, so be it.
This is the very first day at my new school. My Catholic school closed up for good and I will be starting seventh grade at Lafayette Junior High School.
Even though I will be with the same friends I knew at my old school, they seem different. I feel like they want to turn the page and that page doesn't include me.
I find prayer calms my heart and soul for some strange reason.
"Are you there God? It's me, Mary Margaret."
" When I walked in the front doors of my new school, the kids called me, "Geek Girl". I have no idea why. How will I fit in? Where willI fit in? My Aunt Laura visited us and she brought boxes of outfits for me for my first day of school. I was happy to open the boxes, only to find outrageously bright pant suits that would make me stand out like a Geek. I don't want to stand out the first day, I want to blend in!"
I went in the girls room and I notice a bunch of girls looking in the mirror, comparing chest sizes. Some of the same girls I went to school with last year. They turn this way and that, giggling and squeezing their "cleavage' to make it look bigger than it really is. I see Stella, and say hello but she barely acknowledges me. "How do you like it here so far, Stella?"
"It sucks", she says and the whole bunch of girls laugh and walk out. She went along with them and never looked back.
"Are you there, God? It's me, Geek Girl again. Why are my old friends abandoning me?"
The first class of the day is gym class. I brought my gym outfit to fit the description in a letter they sent me in the summer. I dreaded changing in the locker room. I was very flat-chested and after hearing those girls earlier, I knew what I was in for.
Sure enough, the minute I took off my shirt, I started hearing comments. "Wow, Mary Margaret, are you sure that bra is big enough for you?", Barbara said while snapping my bra strap at the back. "I think the mosquito that bit you must have died from starvation!"
"Shut up, Barbara!"
"Girls, behave yourself or I will make you do laps! We do not tolerate body shaming at this school. Now put on your gym outfits and be quiet!", the gym teacher declared loudly.
"I'll make your life hell, you Geek Girl! Just you wait!", Barbara smirked.
I did feel like a Geek Girl and not one person stood up for me. They all wanted to be Barbara's friend, not mine. They were all cowards.
"Dear God, Am I a Geek Girl? I may be flat-chested, but at least help me be good at basketball, please!"
The gym teacher blew her whistle.
"Hustle, girls! We are going to practice shooting the basketball. Now form two lines and let's see what you got!"
Barbara was first. She put one hand on the center of the basketball and another at the bottom, throwing it as gracefully as a ballerina.
It went in the basket, of course. "Nice shot, Barbara!"
My turn was next.
I tried to hold the basketball just like Barbara did, but just before I threw it, Barbara shouted, "Shark!"
The basketball veered to the left and landed in the hallway.
The girls all laughed at me while I retrieved the basketball.
I guess God was having a coffee break.
Gym class didn't go well. Maybe Home Economics will be better.
"Hello, my name is Mrs. Jones and I am your Home Economics teacher. I know you are at that age where your body is changing and you have questions. It's embarrassing sometimes to ask questions, but just know I am here anytime you want to talk. I think it is important at this time to talk about self esteem and personal grooming. Self esteem is an overall sense of personal value and self worth. What does this mean to you? It means that you are unique and special. You have opinions, attitudes, gifts and potential that is not even tapped yet. Life is open to you. All you have to do is believe in yourself. No matter what you look like or where you live, you can be whatever you want to be if you work hard and believe in yourself!"
Mrs. Jones walked around the room and over to the chalk board and wrote down the words: SELF ESTEEM AND PERSONAL HYGIENE.
"What is personal hygiene?"
"Talking about personal hygiene with teen girls should start around age twelve, when puberty hits. Discussing hygiene can be uncomfortable but I encourage you to try to talk to your parents about it. Ask questions. About the age of twelve or thirteen, you should start taking more showers and using deodorant. You will notice more hair under your armpits and in private areas. Are any girls shaving their legs yet? I have a list of razors that are safe to use at your age. Whatever you do, do not use your father's razor to shave your legs! Your Dads might get annoyed with you and you will dull his razor. Use a safety razor. You can get it at any department store and get some shaving cream as well so it goes smoother for you. Also, how many girls have started their period? Do you know how to use a sanitary pad or tampon? There is a dispensary in the girls room if you are in need of one. I also keep a box here if you forgot. Also, try not to wear white pants if you think you are close to your period time. Any questions?"
One hand shot up . My hand. I looked around the classroom at the faces of the other girls, and put my hand back down.
Mrs. Jones passed out a list of items we would need for daily grooming and I was grateful because my parents told me none of this stuff at all. I was clueless.
"Dear God, Are you there? Are you even listening? I am drowning here. I don't fit in and I don't even know what a period is! What is happening to me when just last year everything was beautiful. I was at a school I loved, I had friends and I didn't have pimples or stinky armpits. I need to talk to my Mom about getting some of these items on the list so I can fit in. I need a proper bra and I need to stand up for myself".
I walked up to Mrs. Jones and whispered quietly, "What is a period?"
She looked at me, stunned. "You really don't know, do you?"
I started to cry. "No, my parents told me nothing about any of this. Please help, I don't want to be a freak."
Mrs. Jones gave me a big hug. "Don't you worry. You are not a freak, Mary Margaret. You are just growing up. Let me write a note to your Mother and explain what I am teaching. I can invite her to talk to me too if she wants. Just give her the note. I am sure she would appreciate the talk too. You see, Mary Margaret, some parents are old fashioned and they are embarrassed to talk about such things. It doesn't mean they don't care, just that they don't know everything you need to know. Just keep asking questions. Don't be ashamed of your body."
"Mrs. Jones, why are these girls mean in the gym locker room and making fun of me and my flat chest?"
"I wouldn't worry too much about the other girls, Mary Margaret. They are just as mixed up as you are. They just don't want you to know."
Home Economics turned out to be the best class I had that day. Except for Art Class.
In Art Class, it didn't matter how flat-chested or fat or skinny you were, all that mattered was the paint brush, the easel and your ideas.
"My name is Mrs. Wilson. I am your Art Teacher. Today we are painting a fruit bowl. It is the easiest way to start painting. First draw a circle and then shape it with your paints. There is an orange, an apple, some grapes and a banana. It's impressionist, so don't worry about being perfect. Just have fun. It's art. Express yourself!"
I expressed myself. I was covered with expression. Paint was in my hair, up my nose and on my face. I washed up in the sink. I think I got it all out. I was smiling.
"Dear God are you there? I think I saw you in the corner of the room smiling at me. I think Junior High will be okay. I should start calling myself Mary Margaret. Do you think I'm ready to be a teenager?"
I looked out the window and up at the sky. The clouds parted and the sun was shining.
"Dear Mary Margaret, I have been right by your side all along. You are ready . I love you very much. God."
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It is a really good turn in the end. 'Life is open to you.' This is probably the most challenging thing for teenagers because we are taught to be anything but then stuck somewhere. Just have fun. It's art. Express yourself! Very open and welcoming description of the art. Hope that families, kids will be more open one day and understand that biology is something to be ashamed of. Good piece!
Thank you! I am glad you like my story!
I love this piece. It's cute and uplifting. I remember my middle school days and how I've struggled with not only my body, but school in general. I love the teacher Ms. Jones. It shows that there are teachers that are supportive and encouraging. I don't see much of that in teen fiction these days. They just want to portray teachers as controlling and apathetic. Good luck on the contest!
Thank you. Alot of this happened to me and I did have a teacher like Ms. Jones. Thank goodness for her. I am glad you liked my story. Good luck to you as well!
This perfectly portrays the junior high dynamic. Nice story. Perfect ending!