I Got Bullied Into My Biggest Beauty Mistake

Photographed by Collins Nai.
I wish I didn't know the recipe for getting teased in middle school, but unfortunately, I got made fun of a lot. I had huge breasts by the time I was 11, a complexion dotted in acne, and, most embarrassingly, the kind of thick body hair that often comes with being Italian-American. Combine all that, and you get a girl who was heckled and teased to the point that her dad had to put Post-it notes in her lunchbox that said, "You’re a leader, not a follower." Yeah, it was rough. My hairy limbs made me feel freakish and ugly, and it certainly didn't help that one girl nicknamed me “Godzilla.” After months of torment, I raced off the bus one day and made a beeline for my bathroom. I pulled out a razor — a tool I had never used before (okay, minus the time I shaved my eyebrows the night before third-grade picture day) — and went to town on my arms. I watched in awe as the hair easily came off and wondered why I hadn't done this sooner. When I was finished, I looked at my smooth, naked arms and thought, I can't wait for everyone to see this tomorrow.
But the reactions weren't what I was expecting. The teasing I thought would end only got worse, because now the girls knew what a pushover I was, caving to their mean words. My arms were too hairy before, and now they were too bare. I couldn't win. On top of that, I hated my arms without hair. They just didn't feel like mine, and shaving them quickly became the biggest beauty mistake I’d ever made.
The worst part was the tedious growing-out process. My arms were prickly and irritated, and I couldn't help picking at the follicles. Basically, I learned a major lesson early on that you should never let anyone pressure you into something you don't want to do — for beauty or otherwise. Since my middle school disaster, I haven't done anything to my appearance for anyone but myself. I draw on my brows, paint my lips, and apply foundation every morning so that I can feel good. And on days when I go sans makeup or spot a breakout, I don't sweat it. Today, I'm far from hairless head to toe; in fact, I mainly just give myself a weekly shave for the enjoyment of lathering on some body butter after. Haters gonna hate, but they're sure as hell not going to convince me to break out the razor.