Middle school "Girl Box"

No two words make me shudder more than “middle school.”  What an awkward period.  This is the first time I vividly remember being placed in the “GirlBox” although I am sure I had been placed in there prior to these memories.   There are two instances in middle school where I was placed in the “GirlBox.”  The first time was in P.E. where we had to run one -mile to complete the President’s challenge.  During this mile run I realized I was beating the boys and was first in my group.  For some reason, I tried to slow down so the boys would beat me, to this day I cannot explain why I slowed down, but the boys did not beat me.  One of the boys in my P.E. class made a comment about how he had never seen a girl beat the boys before. Needless to say, he was not impressed and neither were the other boys.  They didn’t seem to take it well that they were beaten by a girl.   I remember being embarrassed and ashamed that I had beaten the boys, which looking back is absurd.

The second time I was placed in the “GirlBox” was toward the end of my middle school career.  Some girls had written a note about me where they called me fat, ugly and continued to discuss my weight in detail.  I vividly remember reading this note and being sad, hurt, mortified and ashamed of my body and myself. The problem here is that I did not fit into their definition of “beautiful” and what a girl should look like.  My outward appearance is all I was judged and/or valued upon. They didn’t look deeper into my inner beauty.  Ever since “the note” I have had intense internal battles about healthy weight and what should be done to maintain that weight. This is something I have struggled with the most, and I think a lot of girls can relate to this body image conflict. Fortunately, I have learned the beauty in eating healthy and being physically active.  Most importantly, I have found the beauty in me.

These two experiences have definitely impacted who I am today.  For instance, I don’t care if I beat the “boys.”  In fact, I enjoy being a competitor because I love being a strong, healthy girl. And secondly, I am at peace with my body and weight and I know that being healthy is more important than being unhealthy.


Emely Elugardo grew up at the beach but has been a Gainesville resident since 2007.  She attended the University of Florida both for undergrad and graduate school, earning Public Relations and Public Health degrees.  Emely values nutrition, is a proud vegetarian, and used to work at the Levy County Health Department as a Health Education Consultant/Health Educator.  She currently works at the Gilchrist County Health Department as a Planner.  Emely loves being active and spending time outside but her favorite way to spend a weekend is at home with friends and family.  Fun Fact: Emely is a beach bum & misses the smell of the ocean