The mean girls used to call her Pizza Face because of her cystic acne, but it's that acne-ridden face that inspired teenager Cassandra Bankson to upload makeup tutorials to YouTube to help other teens learn to feel good about themselves again. And it's thanks to those YouTube videos that Cassandra got signed as a model who was hired to walk the runway at New York's Fashion Week for Boy Meets Girl this week. It turns out mean girls have nothing on a girl who was raised to believe in herself.
Because that's what got Cassandra Bankson from a high school where everyone picked on her to a runway at the epicenter of the fashion world. She's got a mom who has had to face the same mean girls that mothers of daughters everywhere -- myself included -- fear. Only Jennifer Bankson didn't let them win.
I wish I could bend her ear for a few hours on how she managed it.
The mean girls started in pre-school for us, with catty 4-year-olds who referred to themselves as the "A girls" and cut my daughter and her pal out at playtime. We've since jumped to elementary school, and there lurks a certain kind of cruel that seems to rear its ugly head only when my daughter encounters other females. Boys may decide they don't want to play with her today, but they're forthright about it. Her buddy Chase simply says, "I want to play with X." The girls are more cutting. It's "You can't sit with us," and that's it -- no reason given.
If this is already going on in the first and second grades, I can only look to the teen years and wonder, "How are we going to make it?"
I admire Jennifer Bankson most, perhaps, because Cassandra is a teenager, and she still sings her mom's praises. She seems to have gotten past the typical tumult of the mother/teen daughter relationship, and I can't help but wonder if it isn't because she's thrown herself so obviously into her daughter's corner.
Jennifer Bankson let her daughter change high schools to escape the bullies, and she told Cassandra she was beautiful even when the acne scars criss-crossed her face. She taught her daughter the most powerful antidote to mean girl mean that there is: you have to love yourself.
And look where it got this girl. She's beautiful, she's smart, and she's living her dream as a model on the runway. She showed those mean girls, didn't she?!
Check out how confident she is in one of her latest videos:
Does your daughter have a mean girl problem? How are you dealing with it?
Image via DiamondsandHeels14/YouTube