Middle school is an awkward time for a lot of girls. At that age, it can be so hard to fit in.
For Anna Thomas, middle school in metro Atlanta was a total nightmare. "I remember a bunch of girls would stare at me at lunch and make fun of me," Thomas, who is now 18, remembers. "People would walk by me and laugh at me." Her humiliation didn't end there.
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"Some women don't have any idea what's normal and what's not normal," says Jennifer Ashton, MD, author of The Body Scoop for Girls: A Straight-Talk Guide to a Healthy, Beautiful You. And that can cause many young women to think that everything's bad.
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1. Know what your girl parts look like.
Her classmates refused to let her sit in the back of the bus, where the "cool people" sat. Every time she raised her hand in English class, kids yelled at her to "shut up." She was called "the weird girl." One girl told her she looked like "road kill."
Thomas says she never did anything to set off these attacks. She just was an easy target. "I was in that awkward stage of growing up," she says. "I was the odd one out."
High school didn't get any easier. In fact, the girls in Thomas' high school were even more vicious.
Before prom, some of the girls sent her text messages that read, "If you go to the prom, you're going to regret it. Your face is going to be so messed up." They came to the restaurant where she worked, cursed her out, and slashed the tires on her car.
Thomas changed schools -- twice. The harassment didn't stop.
So much hatred was being directed at Thomas that she began to hate herself. "I had no confidence because of the way people treated me."
Thinking she was ugly and fat, Thomas began throwing up after she ate. Sometimes she'd throw up 10 times a day. She developed an eating disorder.
To become the fun, popular person all the kids at school said she wasn't, Thomas started drinking. By age 17 she had an alcohol problem and was in rehab.
She was so miserable that she thought about killing herself. "I would go to sleep and wish I wouldn't wake up anymore."
Why Do Girls Act So Mean?
All teenage girls tease each other from time to time. They roll their eyes and make nasty comments. But the girls who were taunting Thomas were especially cruel.