I was bullied in school for being different and I'm not going to lie, it was tough.
I moved to Adelaide, South Australia with my mum from China when I was 8. I attended an English school for about a year and a half to fast-track my learning before I entered into a ‘normal’ primary school.
Adelaide is a small and beautiful city, but unlike Sydney, there wasn't much cultural diversity, so throughout primary school, I was one of the only few Asian kids in my class. Although that was the case, I never actually felt like I didn’t fit in, I thought I was just like any of the other kids.
It wasn’t until I went to high school, I realised that I was different and the kids at school made sure I was aware of that. To be fair though, it wasn’t everyone at school, I did have a group of very close friends, but there was one particular group (whom shall be left unknown) that would always pick on me.
Every day, I would have to catch the bus to and from school and all the kids from the area would catch the same bus from a huge bus exchange station called ‘Paradise Exchange’. Every morning I would dread going there because of them. When I finally dragged myself there, I would try and hide in a corner, far away from them until the bus got there. Sometimes if I spotted them, I would miss that bus and jump on the next one. So, in my 13-year-old head, the station was far from 'Paradise'.
One day, I thought I had missed them but after getting on, I realised that they were all sitting at the back of the very packed bus. There were students standing shoulder to shoulder and when I spotted them, my heart sank and I was terrified. Soon after the bus started to move, one of them came up and for some extremely odd reason pulled out my hair tie (I know. What a weird way to bully someone). I had (and still have) a head full of long straight black hair and it would take me a good 5-10 mins every morning to put my hair up into a ponytail. So, immediately I was pissed but I held my temper and attempted to put my hair back up while trying to balance on a moving bus full of people. The moment I put my hair back up, the same girl came and pulled it back down and this happened for the rest of the bus ride. I could hear them laughing sitting at the back and all I wanted to do was cry. Finally, when the bus arrived at the school, as I was hopping off, one of them patted me on the shoulder and said “hey, good work not letting her get to you.” I’m sure he meant that as a compliment, but in my head, all I could think about is “why didn’t you stop her?”
As children, I don’t think they understood how hard it is for someone to come to a new country, learn a completely new language, make completely new friends, and be a completely different person. I hope, from the bottom of my heart, that as adults, they have learned this. People take for granted so much of the life that has given to them that sometimes they forget that others had to fight for it. I always joke with my mum when we speak about this part of my childhood that I hope their kids will one day enjoy working for my kids and I will make sure that my kids will treat everyone as equals, even if they are different.
My dear friend, Penny Pang also experienced a similar childhood. Penny moved to Sydney from Thailand when she was young and throughout her school years, she was also bullied for being different.
Penny’s English wasn’t her strong suit and she would always be made fun of for her accent. She told me that kids at school would teach her to swear just to laugh at her.
During lunchtimes, bringing rice and condiments is a very common thing for many Asians but as kids, surrounded by sandwiches and pies, it becomes a very strange thing. Penny told me once she brought rice with some fermented eggs to school, all the kids made fun of her and asked why is the egg black? She was so afraid of eating her lunch in the cafeteria that sometimes she would eat in the toilet by herself.
Above photo: Penny in Pocketi’s newest T design- a super adorable ice cream
As you can see, Penny has thick, bushy, and dark eyebrows which were also made fun while at school. I don’t think any of the kids are laughing today though, seeing as they would probably die for her eyebrows now. Funny how things work out!
Being made fun of from such a young age can damage a child’s self-esteem to a great extent, but how a child reacts to these challenges early in life can also determine how much resilience they have later in life. Penny didn’t let those kids get to her, just like how I didn’t let my bullies get to me. Instead, we both became stronger women because of them.
Penny has had a number of different startups while studying at UNSW and is now the proud Founder of Pocketi, a Sydney based online t-shirt store. Make sure to check out their Instagram, they have a range of super cute designs!
Life is not easy but we need to stay strong and love ourselves for who we are and that’s exactly what I want Soy & Spice Lingerie to symbolise. When we love ourselves, we can inspire others to love themselves too and through that, we can make the world a better place.
Note from the author:
Hello! Thanks for reading this article. Hope you've enjoyed it :)
This is actually Penny's first time sharing her story. How brave! Make sure to leave her a sweet note below!
Until next time, byyeee! :D