The One and Only Time I Made Money Taking Off My Clothes

(Warning This Title May be Misleading.)

The one and only time I made money taking off my clothes was in a fifth-grade school bathroom.   A certain girl, a bully, kept accusing me of stuffing my bra.  Yeah, by eleven, I was a B cup.  After weeks of torment from this girl, one day she pulled out a five-dollar bill and announced with snark and sass—in front of about fifteen girls—that she would give me that money if I would go in the bathroom and prove I didn’t have tissue in my bra.

People were watching, and for the first time, I wasn’t just embarrassed, I was furious.  So I dropped my books on my desk, and said “Come on!”

The two of us went into a stall.  I yanked my top up, lifted up my bra, then I grabbed the $5 bill and left that bathroom holding that bill out like a trophy for everyone to see.

That was one of the two times that I felt I’d bested a bully.  The other was in seventh grade and actually resulted in a fight.  I was the quiet girl, being dyslexic, I felt as if I wasn’t as smart or as cute as my peers. I know I wore my insecurity on my sleeves.  Which made me a target.  And this particular girl had tormented me for over two years.  I didn’t make money that time—I kept my clothes on—and I can’t even tell you if I won that fight.  Oh, but I remember being summoned to the principal’s office.

Of course this girl said I’d started it and made me out to be the bully.  When he informed me that because he didn’t know who was telling the truth, both this girl and I were suspended, I was so outraged that I found some courage.  I pointed out that I was certain this girl had been in his office numerous times for this very offense, because duh, she was a school bully.

With fire in my belly and leaking out in my voice, I asked him to find my records and tell me all the times I’d been in his office.  “What’s wrong?” I asked him, when he didn’t turn to the file cabinet.  “Maybe it’s because I’ve never been in your office?  And you still don’t know who you can trust?”

He listened to me.  Then he rescinded my punishment, but not for the school bully.

I like to remember those two times when I somehow found my voice and the courage to stand up for myself.  Recently I had a conversation with someone about my writing young adult novels. I told her one reason I felt I could write relatable teen characters was because I hated being a teen.  She laughed and told me that she, too, hated high school.

Today, I’ve tapped into my self-confidence.  I’m no longer quiet, and I’m comfortable with who I am.  I think writing did that for me.  But when I look back at my younger years, I get angry at my younger self for all the times I didn’t defend myself. Sadly, this isn’t just something that happened back then.  It’s something that’s happening today. So many teens lack self-esteem and confidence.

I also know that the bullies are probably dealing with the same kind of low self-esteem.  They bully to feel better about themselves.  Not that it’s okay.

I often ponder why so many teen girls deal with this.  Is it society’s view that all females should be pretty and beautiful? That we know the perfect standard and know we don’t measure up? Can bad body images cause this?  Or is it more?  Was my own self-doubt caused from being dyslexic and feeling less intelligent than my peers? Was it because I matured early and that caused bullies to attack me? Or is it all of the above?  Whatever it is, I wish I could fix it for all the girls today.

While it isn’t a cure, I hope by writing characters with their own insecurities, by showing my fictional heroines finding the strength to stand up for themselves, I’m offering girls a chance to tap into their own self-confidence.

Both Riley Smith in The Mortician’s Daughter and Leah McKenzie in This Heart of Mine are confronted by bullies.  Both find a kernel of courage to confront those bullies, to hold their chins high, and to use their voices to defend themselves against people who treat them as if they don’t matter.

As a teen, did you suffer from self-esteem?  Or, are you a teen now and suffer from it?  Have you ever had to stand up to a bully?  Do you have any advice for others who face these issues?


The winner of last week’s giveaway is Theresa. Congratulations! Please email me at with your postal address. (You have until Oct. 17th to claim your prize.)


This week, I’m giving away an ARC of This Heart of Mine and a USB with The Mortician’s Daughter: One Foot in the Grave on it to two people who leave a comment.

(Sorry, but this giveaway is for U.S. residents only. And if you’re reading this on Goodreads, you must leave your comment on my website blog.)

12 thoughts on “The One and Only Time I Made Money Taking Off My Clothes

  1. I definitely suffered from self esteem issues when I was a teen, but I was also very fiery, especially to this one teacher that felt the need to pick on me. One time she made me read some passage in our textbook and kept telling me I was reading the wrong thing and I was clearly reading what she asked me to read so I basically yelled at her ‘what exactly is it you think I should be reading’…the class was stunned and honestly so was I, but she came over and said ‘oh I meant this’, no apology, or anything, but at least I didn’t get in trouble.

  2. I was definitely bullied but the thing was, I didn’t care. Lol So it didn’t last long. I didn’t care if somebody didn’t like me or think I was pretty enough etc. I still feel that way. I have a few true friends and those are who matters. I’m a teacher so bullying is a huge topic always. I try my best to make sure students know what bullying is, how to handle it and why not to do it. I also try to build up their self esteem so maybe one day they’ll think back to that moment and it may give them the power to overcome that obstacle.

  3. I have never been bullied in person. People might of said hurtful things to me but I didn’t worry about what they think because it doesn’t matter. I won’t see them again in few more years. However, I was cussed out by some girl on Facebook. She cursed at me because she was told by this other girl that I called her ugly. After she was done cussing me out she asked if I called her ugly. I told her I didn’t which is the truth I never did. In fact, she was more attractive than I was. After that she apologized for what she said and I forgave her. Sometimes, you just need to forgive and forget and move on.

  4. I loved (This Heart of Mine) I think it is one of the best. All are wonderful books and as far as I’m concerned you are the best. Love you girl

  5. I have never experienced bulling unless you count racism. There was this one time my dad was sitting on a curb in front of an ice cream shop and a car pulled in behind my dad. All of us thought that he would stop but instead he kept driving forward until my dad almost fell of the curb. He said some racial comments. Its sometimes hard to say I am American when it doesn’t feel like I am. So excited for the Morticians Daughter!! Congrats CC! Your book are amazing and I have no doubt this one will be as well.

  6. Love this post. I used to get angry at my past self for similar things, but now I view those choices as part of my transformation to the stronger me I am today. I forgive younger me and understand the reasons behind who she was. There are qualities I had back then that I am sad I lost, but that is all part of life.

  7. I currently am a teen and do suffer from self esteem issues. Though I haven’t been bullied per say since elementary school. I have self esteem issues because there are multiple people who I have called my best friends talk about be behind my back saying I am a know it all, controlling, and show off. I don’t have a problem with people saying these things to my face but I have a huge problem with people not tell me but tellling everyone else. I was bullied in elementary school because of my name, Brooke. They would call me a Brookie Cookie, and many other names that I did not like but I ignored because I was too shy/afraid to say anything. Now at 18 I’m not afraid and I will tell anyone what I think about anything, so I’m not bullied as much. And if someone tries to bully me I put a positive spin on it so I can ruin it for them. I like to view the choices that I have made in the past years as the choices that have helped me become ME. And because of the many different things I have seen at such a young age, all my siblings are 8-12 years older then I am, I want to become a psychologist or student counselor to be able to help kids get through difficult times.

    • But that’s bullying too. Bullying isn’t always physical. More often it is verbal bullying. I think it’s great that you want to help others.

  8. I’m not a teen reader, but I am fascinated with your writing style and your ideas. I claim to read, to be able to recommend books at the library, where I work. Deep down in my heart, it is a white lie. I read them because I love them. I have re-read the Shadow Falls series and I am ready for another The Mortician’s Daughter. I read the first one over Saturday night (after the Border Book Bash), Sunday night and finished it this evening. Thank you. I am intrigued by This Heart of Mine. I need more. I am soooo not a stalker, just an avid reader who recognizes great writing.

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