Study Guide

Janelle Battle in Bronx Masquerade

By Nikki Grimes

Janelle Battle

Janelle has so many things going for her: She's smart, she has great friends, and people like her. Unfortunately, all she can focus on some days is her weight. It's a real bummer:

I mean, I am smart and funny, and I know I'm a good person. But this is high school, and nobody seems to care about that. (23.2)

Poor Janelle feels like no one likes her just because of how she looks. Thing is, we see people tell her otherwise on more than one occasion. The kid she babysits thinks she's beautiful, and so does Devon, even though Janelle thinks he could never like her in a million years. In other words, it isn't just the outside world limiting Janelle—she limits herself, too. She's internalized the belief that her external beauty matters more than her beautiful brain.

Throughout the school year, Janelle really opens up to her classmates about how she feels about herself. She doesn't like her extra weight, and hearing her classmates' poems helps her realize that they all struggle with how they look and how the world sees them—even Judianne:

"Look, I am nothing like you, okay?" [Judianne] spit out. "In case you haven't noticed, you're fat and I'm not. And you're wrong about my poem. It was just words. It didn't mean anything. You got that?" And she slammed out of the bathroom and left me there, stinging from the inside out […]

I glanced up at the mirror before I left. "You're wrong, Judianne," I said to the mirror. "They weren't just words, and you know it." (35.7-8)

Unlike Judianne, Janelle learns how to be honest with herself. As she does, she likes herself more and more, accepting her whole self. Yay. You go, Janelle.