Dionie McNair - Young Adult Fiction Author
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The bullying began...

The First Bruise From A Bully

I waited in line for my turn. It was the best part of ballet class when the entire warm ups and demi plies had been practiced and we had done our rehearsal of the end of year concert.
The line seemed to move slowly. Each of us was eager to take our turn to fly. Mrs Macgregor playing the piano and Mrs Parsons indicating when we could go and correcting our steps as we tiptoed across the polished wooden floor.
Tiny ballerina’s all of us, aspiring, hopeful to one day dance in Swan Lake.
I shuffled forward. Soon.  Soon it would be my turn.
Then I was at the head of the line the music tingled in my ballet slippered feet and I was running faster and faster. As fast as my little plump legs would let my. My pale pink chiffon skirt fluttered from where it was tied around my rotund little tummy. But now the rotund little tummy didn't matter because it was my chance to fly.  With my speed as good as it was going to get I leapt, spread my legs, feet arched, toes pointed in front and behind. Hands forward and back in graceful curves. Two leaps and then I fell back to back to earth, back to being controlled by gravity, the line of baby ballerinas and Mrs Parson’s harsh criticism. ‘Not fast enough. Not high enough. You need to run faster, dear.’
She always said that and I cringed.
But tonight even her criticisms could not dampen my excitement. Tonight I was getting the materials for my mother to make the costume for the end of year concert. Delicate white chiffon skirt with a white satin leotard all decorated with sequins in a delicate flower pattern across the front and around the neck and cuffs. Attached to my back would be a pair of sheer wings edged with sequins and tinsel. I was going to be a fairy and at last I would have wings to fly.
I could see my father standing with the other parents waiting for class to be dismissed and to collect those precious parcels of glittering goodies.
At the instant of release I skipped, hopped and jumped to his side.  ‘Come on Daddy come and get my fairy costume.’ I tugged on his big calloused workman’s hands and he obediently moved forward to join the queue. At last he was in front of Mrs Parsons.  She handed him a parcel. ‘Mr McFarlane here are the materials for Cassandra’s costume. Please tell you wife that it is the elf costume. The pattern is enclosed with a picture of what it looks like.
Panic darted through me. Elf. No that was wrong. I tugged at my father’s jumper.  ‘Daddy I am meant to be a fairy. Tell Mrs Parsons, I am a fairy not an elf.’
‘Shh I love. I am sure Mrs Parsons knows what she is about’
‘Daddy.’ I wailed so loud that the attention of everyone in the room was suddenly blaring at me. Now my father stepped forward, diffidently, apologetically. ‘Mrs Burnett I thought Cassy was to be a fairy. That is what my wife told me and Cassy has been practicing the fairy dance every day at home.’
‘Yes well Mr. McFarlane Cassandra was originally cast as a fairy but some of the other mothers and I have been giving it some thought and it has been decided that your daughter does not really have the body shape to be a fairy. There are far more nimble and delicate little ones who are more suitable to be fairies. Cassandra is much more suited to being an elf and besides the costume is so cheery and colourful.’
‘But Mrs Parsons I think perhaps that is unfair. Cassandra is expecting to be a fairy. She will be disappointed.’
‘That maybe so Mr. MacFarlane but I have to do what is best for the ballet concert and please don’t be offended but your daughter is just too fat to fulfil the role of a fairy in this ballet school’s end of year concert. She will just have to accept it.’
‘I see…’
‘Then perhaps if she slims down somewhat she can be a fairy for next year. You understand.’
I watched the exchange between my quiet unassuming Dad and the haughty Mrs. Parsons knew already that my Dad had backed away from the fight. He looked shattered but he wasn’t the sort of man who would argue with someone like Mrs Parsons. She had once been a ballerina herself and was married to the Mayor.’
My face burned with shame. To be called fat in front of my entire fellow ballerina’s and their parents.  I had never thought of myself as fat.  Never considered myself to be any different to the other girls. Never thought about being unacceptable to be a fairy.  My first harsh experience was learned - the cruelty of the world I lived in.  If I was unacceptable to be a fairy what else was I unacceptable for at the ripe old age of three and a half.
All week I begged my parents to reverse the decision. I danced the fairy dance all week, every chance I got.
‘See Mummy see Daddy I am supposed to be a fairy not an elf.’
But my mother just went on making that hated red and green costume. Every tingle of the bells around the zig zag bottom cut into my heart. Every tingle of that costume yelled at my; you’re too fat you’re unacceptable, you’re not good enough.

How I hated that costume and I think I even hated my parents a little – they weren't fighting for me for my rights. Was I unacceptable to them as well? Did they agree with Mrs. Parsons’s assessment of me that I was too fat to be a fairy? If they loved me they would have refuted Mrs Parsons they would have refused to make me an elf. Maybe they would have even pulled me out of that wretched concert. Pulled me out to spare me the humiliation of being made to be an elf. Made to accept the worlds assessment of me; I was fat therefore unacceptable. I was an elf; I did dance in that bloody concert. They made me and I saw it as them siding with her against me and my humiliation was complete. Life went on but I was never the same again. Never did I have that sense of freedom to just be. I was always on edge waiting to be judged – to be decreed unacceptable.  The only person I felt safe with was my grandmother. She didn’t care if I was a chubber. She loved me unconditionally. 

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