Freak. Fast. Grown. Womanish. Easy. Crazy.

Despite a young girl’s best laid plans and intentions, despite her careful carriage, her modest dress, her censored language, she can still rather easily find herself on the receiving end of a bad reputation. Trusting the wrong boyfriend, hanging out with the wrong cousin or friend, or being born into a family of women who’ve also shouldered the burden of bad reputations can all lead to some frustrating childhood years. All it takes is a single, insidious rumor to undo every attempt a young woman makes to be “good” or “respectable.” All it takes is premature physical development to make some cynical older woman on your block assume that you’re far more “experienced” than you’re even thinking about becoming.

Once one has been assigned, a bad reputation can be nearly impossible to live down. Either you spend every waking moment trying to convince your peers what they’ve heard about you isn’t true, you internalize and pretend to embrace the reputation, or you ignore the rumors as they persist and long for the day when you can move someplace where the rumors can longer reach you. No approach does much for the emotional damage.

I was fortunate, in that the only reputation that followed me throughout my K-12 career was for being “too quiet.” So many of my other little-girl friends weren’t as lucky–and it was heartbreaking to watch them cycling through those three responses: deny, embrace, ignore. It was such an unfair fight, one small voice against so many.

Have you ever had to live down a bad childhood/teen reputation? How did you do it? 

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  • I was once told in an anonymous Honesty Box message (remember those days on Facebook?) that I had a bad reputation in college. (Nobody ever told me this to my face by the way) Admittedly, it stung a little but at the end of the day I had to dismiss it as hearsay. The best thing to do is just live your life. If you waste time and energy trying to change other people’s perceptions of you, you are in for a long miserable road. The people who are really going to be there for you will be there for you regardless. The rest? F ’em!

    If that doesn’t work, remember that after you graduate, move to a different town, etc.you can always start anew!

  • I would love to see a different world reunion with Dewayne and Whitley coming back from Japan with the teenage son. And Kim being a doctor and Freddie as and attorney,married to Ron. And with Jelesa and the Colonel and Mr Caines running the pit, Dewayne comes back to work in the states for and electronic’s company or he can be a professor. or whatever. I believe it can work. And also there son can be at Hillman middle college for his son. It can work.A true fan

  • Ashleigh

    The way I managed the rep assigned to me was.. I ignored it and lived my day as if it didn’t exist. At one time the rep was true, due to ptsd from being raped. Those one who assigned the rep I owe no explanation. It enraged them my day to day inner contentment.