Sometimes we think only certain types of people are bullied, but the truth is, it can happen to anyone. 2011 Miss Teen USA runner-up Audra Mari was bullied by a group of senior girls all throughout her sophomore year of high school. But she never let their negative comments get to her. By staying confident and never losing sight of her goals, Audra left the bullies behind and did an amazing job at this year’s Miss Teen USA competition! She talked to Seventeen about her experiences being bullied and how she overcame it.
One Sunday, I came home and there was a big stick figure taking up my whole driveway and there were little stick figures underneath it. At the top of the stick figure, it said “Sasquatch.” It was basically making fun of me because I’m tall. At the football games, other kids would chant things, like at the homecoming football game, the crowd chanted “Go Home Mari.” A sign that the girls had made faced the team wishing them good luck, but the back of the sign read “Go Home Mari” for the whole student section to see. At volleyball practice one time, this girl cornered me in the locker room and was screaming at me, calling me all these names and telling me that I had sent pictures to her boyfriend who I didn’t even know. One time during lunch, I was sitting there with all my friends, and a junior girl walked in my lunch hour. She came up to where I was sitting, and she threw a paper lunch bag at me, and it had my name on it. She said, “You can eat this for lunch.” Inside of the bag were sugar cubes, carrots, horse radish, like just a bunch of stuff that horses would eat and saying that I looked like a horse.
At first, I tried to keep it in and not tell anyone except for my friends because I thought that it’d pass after the first few weeks, but this stuff happened all year. I guess you have to sit back and figure out how you’re going to make it better. So finally, I told my mom, I told her everything that was happening. She talked to the administration, and they brought the girls in and talked to them about it. The girls who threw the lunch bag at me were suspended from school. So you just have to bring it to the attention of people in a position of authority.
You just have to ignore it and have confidence in yourself. I had always watched pageants and thought they were something fun to do. I always admired the girls who did them. I was a three-sport athlete — hockey, soccer, and volleyball — and I quit them all to further my modeling career and do pageantry. Looking back, I’d say you just need to focus on what you want to achieve and not let people get in your way or put you down. Just because somebody calls you a name or says something bad about you doesn’t mean you necessarily need to believe them and take it to heart.
Stay confident and know that this is not the end of the world, that you are not going to be in high school the rest of your life. There are mean girls wherever you go, but you don’t need to surround yourself with them when you get older. You’re not in a classroom with them, you’re not eating lunch with them, and you’re not at games with them, so look past it and know that it’s going to end. Also, tell a trusted adult, tell all your friends, tell anyone you can. If you keep it inside, it’s just going to eat at you.
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