|Marissa on the day she donated her hair.|
This past summer she got friendly with a boy from her school through a game called Fortnite. She had him in some classes the previous year and didn't think much of him. He often interrupted the teacher with off-topic comments and didn't seem to care for schoolwork. But over the summer they would spend hours on this game, chatting and working together on the various quests. She warmed up to him, and not a day would go by that they wouldn't talk. They never got together in person though, which I found unusual for a friendship. I kept questioning if it was more than friends, but the answer was always the same: just friends.
School started again this fall, and their friendship over Fortnite continued. They didn't have too many classes together this year, so she didn't have much of an opportunity to see him except for lunch. They would sit at the same table, a group of boys on one end, girls on another, because that's how it goes in middle school.
One day he called one of her girlfriends "anorexic." Marissa wasn't there to hear it, but she heard from her friend afterward that he had done this. Her girlfriend was really hurt. She already felt out of place with how petite she was — she is shorter and smaller than all of her friends — and he just reinforced how badly she felt about her body.
Marissa was mad. She came home from school that night and told me about the incident and that she was going to talk to this boy about it. I hadn't suggested this course of action, and internally was doubtful she would have the courage to do it, though I told her it was the right thing to do.
The next day at lunch, she marched up to this boy and said, "Hey, you called my friend anorexic yesterday and you really hurt her feelings." He was surprised. "Women and girls already struggle with their body image and being compared to models all the time, that was a really hurtful thing to say." He hadn't ever heard of "body image" before, had no idea girls struggled with it and that he'd hurt this girl's feelings, and he agreed to apologize to her.
The very next opportunity he had, he walked up to Marissa's friend and apologized to her for calling her anorexic. Marissa's friend was surprised and accepted his apology.
Marissa decided that this boy was not nice for having said such a mean thing, despite the fact that he'd apologized, and she no longer plays Fortnite with him or hangs out. If he did it out of a sense of winning back Marissa's friendship, he didn't succeed. But perhaps he did it because he genuinely felt badly for how he made this girl feel, and will not say something like that to someone again.
Marissa's actions are the exact definition of "anti-bullying," and I am so proud of her for inherently knowing to do the right thing.