Plain Jane: Part 5
Written by Valerie Cotnoir
Previous: As I stood looking at towering Vanessa, ugly Vanessa inside and out, I did feel as if I could never be pretty, I did feel worthless.
There was a side door to the building not far away, so I turned and started towards it, feeling very small. I heard their laughter behind me and felt the anger and frustration rise in my stomach. I wasn’t ugly and I wasn’t worthless, I knew that.
When Dad and Mom told me to ignore them, I was doing more than just that. I was not defending myself. I was letting them rule over me. But this time, they wouldn’t succeed. No one had ever stepped up to them before, but today would be different.
“No!” The girls stopped laughing. They looked at me strangely. I had turned around and started walking towards them, my fists clenched, my voice rising.
“No! I am not worthless!” I said.
“Yes you are,” Vanessa said confidently.
“No I am not. You are wrong. Fashion; clothes, shoes, make-up, the way you look doesn’t matter. What matters is how you act, what you are like on the inside, not the outside. Don’t you see? Don’t you understand? The Bible says to treat others the way you would treat them. Don’t you know the fruit of the spirit? Letting someone down and letting fashion rule your life and everybody else’s isn’t there, be sure! I will not let you hurt me anymore. I am proud to be plain and letting everyone see who I really am instead of covering it up with clothes and make-up.” Then I pushed them aside and walked into class right on time.
“Class dismissed.” Everyone ran out of the room except me. I gathered my stuff into my backpack slowly and carefully, thanked the teacher and then headed out. What do you know, but I met Vanessa’s group along the way. They hadn’t done anything to me all day, nothing. Today, they were the ones ignoring me.
I passed them easy and started down the sidewalk home. As I reached the intersection, I heard someone shouting behind me, and when I turned I saw Jeanette running in my direction. I continued walking until she yelled, “Please stop, Jane!” I couldn’t remember the last time I hadn’t been called “Plain Jane”. I turned again and stopped. Jeanette caught up, stopped to catch her breath then spoke all in a rush.
“You don’t understand what it has been like for me this past year with Vanessa and all. I never wanted to bully anyone, never, and I hate your nickname. All I ever did was to impress Vanessa and make some friends, but they were the wrong friends to make. They told me they would stop bullying you now that you’re no fun. I know it’s just because they are plain scared of you. I wouldn’t be surprised if they stopped bullying and even skipped some make-up. I guess what I’m trying to say is…well, I’m awful, awful, awful sorry.”
I stood blinking at Jeanette for a moment, afraid I might collapse. Was it true? Could it be true? After I had stood up for myself, it seemed anything was possible. I took Jeanette’s hand and said, “What you need is a friend. I can be that friend.” Jeanette smiled and looked rather pretty for a moment. We walked to my house and before we went inside, I said, “Oh, and I don’t mind if you call me Plain Jane.”
Just in case you’re wondering, Jeanette became my new best friend. You see, you can have lots of best friends. We went to school together and did everything together. Vanessa’s group broke apart and so did the other cliques. Because of me and what I did, fashion didn’t matter anymore at the Hendricks Middle School. The bullying stopped, too. Honestly, I don’t know what happened to Vanessa after she went to a boarding school in England. But with her out of the way the other four girls apologized and started getting better grades, they even became my friends, too. My Mom started having more time for me now the kids were older. At ninth grade I started homeschooling again. It was a great year. And there were more great years to come.