Many children and adults dream about becoming royalty, often pretending to be princes and princesses during playtime and daydreams.
I remember growing up I would image becoming a real life Belle from Beauty and the Beast dancing around in a yellow ball gown, ideally without being locked away in the tower of a castle first mind you.
But for Tina Ngo from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pretending to be royalty was more than just playing and dreaming.
When Tina, now aged 22, moved to America with her family from Vietnam when she was only 7 years old, she struggled at school being bullied for not being able to speak much English.
Speaking to UNILAD, Tina explained how throughout elementary and middle school bullies picked on her for being different to them being the only ‘100 per cent Asian kid’ in her class.
The bullying went on for years but eventually it faded out during junior high and high school. I was a new Asian kid who barely spoke English that just moved into this white, upper class suburban neighbourhood.
I didn’t dress like the other kids, didn’t have lives like they did, I was very different.
I remember one of the first times kids really acknowledged me was when I said this joke. The other kids thought it was so funny and would ask me to repeat the joke all the time so I kept repeating it to them. It took me two years later to realise they weren’t laughing with me at the joke, but laughing at me.
The kids never said anything super offensive, or at least I don’t remember anything like that, but they definitely did make these remarks based in micro-aggression or would act in extremely passive aggressive ways to try and impress each other.
As Tina goes on to acknowledge, unfortunately the culture in many schools sees kids thinking ‘being the coolest would mean being the meanest’ when actually it is much cooler to stop bullying.
Wanting to discourage the bullies, young Tina was struck by an idea during a project for class which involved introducing yourself by using photos.
Knowing her classmates would share pictures of themselves playing sports and visiting Disneyworld, Tina realised her photos would be different as her ‘family was not as wealthy’ meaning she spent most of her time watching American cartoons to learn English.
But rather than share pictures of herself watching television, Tina found a photo where she was dressed up as royalty which she knew would impress the other kids.
During a family holiday to the Imperial Citadel, Tina was given the chance to dress up in fantastic and bright garments fit for a queen.
Sharing this photo with her class, Tina told them the reason she was dressed so elegantly while sitting on a throne was because she was Vietnamese royalty.
Of course some of the American kids had no reason not to believe her and so they did. Genius!
Tina admits that although her classmates realised pretty quickly she wasn’t a royal, it did help ease the bullying.
She told UNILAD:
I remember a couple of my classmates asking if I was really royalty but we were also old enough to realise that I probably wasn’t. No international royal family would move to a small, secluded suburb in New Jersey.
Over time the bullying stopped and it got to a point where a lot of the kids and I had to be somewhat cordial to each other because we were stuck with each other for so long. I eventually just blended into the background.
The worst years were during elementary school for sure. I don’t hold resentment against most of them although there were a particular few who were actually little tyrants.
Bullying is traumatising and I’m aware that I’m one of the few ones who get to laugh at these memories.
Unfortunately there are a lot of kids out there who are dealing with the same type of or even worse harassment, who don’t get to laugh because of how much it has affected them. I think it’s definitely worthwhile to tell kids that it is okay to be different and that it is also okay to be accepting of those who are different.
Wise words Tina, wise words.
Tina is now able to look back and laugh at some of her childhood memories including the time she pretended to be royalty.
Sharing the photo on Twitter, Tina wrote:
I remember when i was bullied a lot in elementary school for not rlly speaking english i lied for a week abt how i was actually royalty from vietnam and used this picture for show and tell. got these american hoes to shut up real quick and asked if i rlly came from famous ppl.
The internet loved Tina’s idea showing their love by giving her over 180,000 likes at time of writing (September 25) making it go viral.
So although you may not be actual royalty Tina, you have proven you are clearly a queen!
If you’ve been affected by bullying, and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact Bullying UK (Part of Family Lives) on 0808 800 2222. The helpline service is open 9am – 9pm, Monday to Friday and 10am – 3pm Saturday and Sunday.
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.