Fourteen-year-old Rania, an intelligent girl, was frequently mocked by her peers for being chubby. Taking advantage of her insecurity and lack of self-confidence, they told her every day that the best girl is the one with a waist the size of a rubber band.

Of course this is not true! But she believed them. Their insults were like poisonous arrows for her, each one worse than the other. Even her mother, who was supposed to be a source of love and guidance, instead of consoling her daughter only added fuel to the fire by cruelly commenting on her weight.

One morning, Rania was walking to school when she encountered some girls from her school.

Seeing her, they shrieked, “Hey fatso!”

Her eyes brimming with tears, she ran away fast, thinking to herself, “Is there something wrong with me. Am I … not normal?”

As the days went by, the thought of trying to lose weight became more and more appealing to Rania. Soon she lost all interest in studies and only cared about how she looked. She became vain and petty. She could not bear the fact that she was ugly according to the people she knew and who tormented her every single day. Despite all her efforts, her weight did not reach anywhere near the so-called standards of beauty.

She became more depressed and often cried herself to sleep each day. She would tell herself, “I am not good enough. I need to fit in!”

One day she confided her worries to her grandmother, who wisely said, “Remember my dear, fitting in is not worth it if you feel bad about yourself. You are the way God has made you. The only thing that matters is what you think of yourself and not what others think of you.”

For the first time someone had talked to her in a reassuring way and this gave her confidence. Rania smiled as she understood what her grandmother had said and decided that she does not need to live by the standards set by others.

Published in Dawn, Young World, December 14th, 2019