"Words can build up or tear down. Words can influence others and build relationships at work or personally. They can tear down relationships." (Mollie Wagner )
"Words can build up or tear down. Words can influence others and build relationships at work or personally. They can tear down relationships."

Mollie Wagner

Say it in All Caps

Instead of a traditional interview, the impact of words emerged in the form of observation and vignettes

November 19, 2019

“YOU’RE A DUMB BLONDE” 

Tears fall from her once admired blue eyes. The mascara she worked on so precisely this morning slowly starts to dangle from her eyelashes and drip down her face. She is stunning, in ways people don’t seem to acknowledge. Her classmates see her, but don’t really know her. Instead of joining her in soft laughter, they pick her apart and question who’s behind the pretty face. They play her down to be someone she’s not. They envy her for who they aren’t. You can see it in the way she shifts in her seat and tucks her hair behind her ear every time she speaks up in class and gets glares from every angle. She doesn’t want to be loved for her looks. She doesn’t want to be looked down upon for something as miniscule as the color of her hair. To others, it’s a small nudge and loud chuckle of “you’re such an airhead,” but to her, it’s quiet sniffles in the bathroom and smudged concealer under her eyes. She is talked to like she is less than and acknowledged, like she doesn’t know better; when really, she is just as much, just as intelligent. 

Where do we draw the line? 

“TRY-HARD” 

Never finding your crowd. Flocking to teachers as your companions because your age group has never understood you. Not being able to find your place at assemblys or football games, so you just stay home and study because you have nothing else to do. Adults are your people. Fitting in hasn’t been on your agenda since elementary school so you sit in the front of your class, tell your teacher about the essay you wrote for fun and hardly notice the whispers happening directly behind you. Even from people who you consider your friends. Well, let me rephrase, they ask you for homework answers but never to see a movie. They ask you about your weekend just so they can tell you how much fun they had because let’s face it, you didn’t leave your room anyway. You don’t dress up for football games because you’d rather sit in the parent section, with people who match your maturity level. You want to be the next level of Cardinal Crazy but have never gotten the chance. People would gawk at you for it. 

Where do we draw the line? 

“THAT’S SO GAY” 

A friendly joke, playful banter. Something that is harmless to one but painful to another. When will the day come when heads don’t drop into hands and eyes don’t scatter because there’s no comfort in eye contact from the friend that would never understand. It’s comical and it’s gentle, with no intention of being misconstrued to be unsupportive of fellow classmates. Girls can’t hold hands and boys can’t have pink hair because “that’s so gay.” Peers throw up the immediate white flag of “no offense” as if they are surrendering their statement. But they are still the winner. It’s isolation. It’s the sick feeling in your stomach when you’re hurting over something out of your control. It’s compelling to a stigma that shouldn’t exist. 

Where do we draw the line? 

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