I read the story, like something straight out of a Stephen King novel. This non-fiction could have been infinitely more horrific.
After being nominated to her high-school homecoming court, some of her classmates suggested to sixteen-year-old Whitney Kropp that she’d been selected as a joke.
I remember high school. Even now I can slip into this girl’s shoes and feel the chest-crushing pain. Disbelief, heart-hammering adrenaline, this-cannot-be-happening-to-me embarrassment. It’s not a stretch to say this could have gone very, very badly.
But it didn’t.
This girl, who could have crumbled, made the life-changing decision to accept her nomination and attend the homecoming. Word spread of the prank (prank isn’t a strong enough word, agreed?), and the entire community rallied and lifted that girl up. Not that she needed it.
On the arm of her father, with her grandfather looking on, Whitney “Cinderella” Kropp graced that football field with her head high as the entire nation cheered.
Whitney Kropp is strength personified.
This story got me thinking about beauty and self-confidence and how one girl could make such a brave choice in the face of one of Earth’s most terrifying factions: teenagers. Besides towering courage, what else helped Whitney navigate this gauntlet?
Family. Her mother, sister and grandmother counseled her to attend the homecoming, they told her it was the only way to best her bullies. Her father escorted her, her grandfather stood at-the-ready. They held her up with their love and wise words, and you can bet this isn’t the first nugget of wisdom they’ve imparted.
Community. Her high school may host a small tribe of chumps but, as these chumps quickly learned, they are nowhere near the end-all. There is life outside high school, there’s a mid-Michigan community and an entire nation full of heart and compassion that’s had e-freaking-nough of this bullying nonsense.
Beauty – the kind that never fades. Whitney showed grace. In one weekend she became famous, and she could have used this power-platform to condemn her bullies. Instead, she opened up to us about her tough decision, told us with raw honesty that it was embarrassing and painful. She spoke out against bullying and gave practical advice and hope to bullying victims everywhere – when she could have easily chosen simply to crush her own bullies. She rose above, so far above, and showed us all what it means to be beautiful.
Substance. Whitney and her family have managed to instill unshakable self-confidence within her (remember life at 16? That’s no easy feat!), the kind of self-confidence that comes from learning how to take care of yourself. The kind that comes from facing your fears and emerging triumphant. The kind that, over time, develops into a quiet inner voice that reminds you that you can handle whatever comes your way. That you are loved. These are the things we must teach our children. This is beauty.
Whitney is proof.
Quote by Kate Angell