Look at You! 5 ways to get out of the body spotlight
by Rachel Smith
You can tell you’re growing up. Whether you like it or not, other people can, too. Your relatives offer you extra helpings of dessert because “you’re too skinny.” Boys stare at your chest during gym class, and a perfect stranger asks if you play basketball because you’re so tall. It’s a lot to take! You can’t change people’s comments, and you can’t change your body. So, how can you deal with unwanted attention? Here are five strategies for dealing with tricky situations.
1. Laugh along. When people say things that don’t annoy you too much, laugh it off. It helps to have a funny line ready, or to point out an advantage of your situation. For example, if people tease you about being short, tell them, “Yeah, but I can beat you at the limbo!”
2. Ignore it. If someone whistles at you on the street, just keep walking. If someone is trying to make you mad, ignoring them can show you don’t care. Of course, if the teasing or comments continue, or if you’re too uncomfortable to ignore it, try something else.
3. Speak up. If something really bothers you, say so. The person may not realize she or he is being hurtful. Be clear and direct about what you want. Try saying, “I’m sensitive about the size of my feet. I’d appreciate it if you’d stop talking about them.” You can also write a note to the person if you don’t want to talk face-to-face. Confronting someone can be scary, but it works.
4. Talk it over. Laughing with your friends about silly things people say is a great way to feel better. You’ll find you’re not the only one annoyed by comments and stares. Together, you can come up with your own ways to deal with uncomfortable situations.
5. Get help. Ask a parent or another adult for advice. You don’t have to deal with unwanted attention alone. Pick an adult you feel really comfortable talking to—chances are she’s had similar experiences.
It’s up to you to decide how strongly you feel about the attention you receive and the best way to handle it. Remember that there’s no “right” way to look, and people who comment on your appearance are probably concerned about their own bodies or even jealous of you. Be confident about who you are, and think about the things you love about your body, especially the amazing things it can do. What other people say doesn’t change the fact that you’re a unique, beautiful girl!
Sexual Harassment—When it’s Serious
Sexual harassment, a form of bullying, is a big issue that doesn’t get enough attention. It happens when someone—a classmate, teacher, coach, friend, or anyone else—talks about sex or people’s bodies in a way that makes you feel embarrassed or unsafe, or touches you inappropriately. If you’re not sure whether someone is sexually harassing you, ask yourself how the behavior makes YOU feel: good or bad. If it makes you feel bad, it’s harassment, no matter what the other person might think. If someone sexually harasses you, take action. Firmly tell the person to stop, and tell an adult—a teacher, school counselor, or parent. You can also call the Kids’ Helpline at 1-877-KIDS-400. Don’t be ashamed to speak up—sexual harassment happens because someone wants to have power over you, not because of how you dress or act. It’s not your fault, it’s illegal, and you have the right to stop it.
© 2008 New Moon® Publishing, New Moon®: The Magazine for Girls and Their Dreams, Duluth MN.
Content last reviewed May 15, 2008
Page last updated October 31, 2013