Insulting comments reflect their speaker’s ignorance
A curious inversion has occurred -- a half-century ago the issue of racism mainly involved African Americans; now there is racism against Caucasians, also known as haoles, here in Hawaii.
At school I am referred to as the tall albino girl. I am lucky to have a strong sense of confidence about my visual image and to be mature enough to ignore these petty remarks about my skin color. However, no matter how old you are or how pretty you are, mean words do inflict harm. Sometimes we choose to ignore these crude remarks, whether they are about our heritage or our physical appearance, but even so it often stabs our minds and hearts.
I believe everyone is unique and beautiful. Sometimes we are cast as losers for not wearing the "cool" type of attire, or we are teased for how we look. My brother is overweight and is constantly teased. I stand up for him, but some people find it funny to say things about others, that if said to them would certainly hurt their feelings. I dance hula, and have been teased for things like being blond or being such a lighter tone compared to others. I have been told "haoles can't dance hula" and "you probably blind everyone around you with your color."
A year ago I was also teased for being "fat," even though I was a healthy weight and I was evenly proportioned. Even so, my insecurities let out and I became very depressed. I didn't eat that much and I woke every morning hoping to be 20 pounds lighter and two shades darker. I would be asked, "Janae, do you ever go to the beach or even try to get a tan? You are so white!" I knew going to the beach would be terrible for me because, with a family history of melanoma (skin cancer), I already have been treated for early stages of skin cancer.
My attitude toward myself affected my school life and home life. I look back on those days realizing that those evil words and thoughts about me were not said because they were true, but out of jealousy and resentment toward me. Since then I have taken a new stride in my life. I have learned that I don't need to be like everyone else to be beautiful. I know I won't become dark skinned, like most of my classmates and the majority of Hawaii residents. I have learned to be proud of myself and to not judge others by the way they look, either, which is not something most girls my age do.
I am not saying that I have never judged someone by looks, because I have, and I regret it now. My heart goes out to all those who were born with physical deformities. I now look at beauty as not how you look, but by what your personality is like. I have met people of all ages with disorders or simple things like not having a finger, and they seem to be the ones with the most heart.
Putting yourself in others' shoes often gives your life a whole new perspective and leads to more compassion. We all have freedom of speech, but I urge you to think before you speak. After all, one of the hardest challenges in life is to accept others, and even harder is to accept yourself the way you are.
Janae Rasmussen is an eighth-grader at University Lab School. She lives in Kailua.
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