Owning a Skeith can be one of the most rewarding things in Neopia. Most Neopians know Skeiths to be fat, lazy, assertive, dim-witted, and rude. Even in famous literature, they are more often than not portrayed as beasts with few morals, and even fewer standards. Even on trading cards, they are exposed as monsters and evil creatures. But what of Skeiths like Liddana, who is a kind and generous soul, only ever showing a flash of monstrous behavior to those who provoke her based solely on her species?
Negative stereotypes follow many species – Jetsams, Ogrins, Chias – but it seem that none of them take a hit harder than Skeiths. Many owners decide to take in a Skeith for the benefit of not needing to discard any items, and instead feeding them shoes and tin cans. Some Skeiths don't mind, and are thankful to have a home, and not be left abandoned with names like I_Wish_I_Was_Dead_7778. But their thankfulness should not be abused and met with treating them as though they were a living garbage disposal.
I was never a fan of Skeiths myself, blinded by stereotypes like so many others. "They're fat." "They're ugly." "They don't look cute." "They're supposed to be stupid." I wasn't any better than them. I didn't think about what I said, I didn't realize how wrong I could be.
But in visiting the pound one day, I realized how wrong that I was.
I was a regular visitor to the pound, always hoping to find a pet to give a new home, or help them further with an agency that might be better suited to care for them than I was. I walked up and down rows for hours, passing by the same gelatinous Skeith over and over again. A pink young miss named Liddana. She didn't look and different than any other Skeith I'd seen in the pound – she was hungry, she looked angry and jagged teeth poked out of her mouth in every direction. Just like passing a member of the Brute Squad on the street, I'd look away from her and keep my eyes down.
But the third time I passed her, I noticed something.
Unlike every other pet I walked past, she had never once looked up at me. She had kept her eyes down the entire time. She had already given up. She didn't expect to be adopted. She didn't think anyone else would look her way.
Yet I knew that she was perfect for my family.
She never spoke about her previous home lives, or about who fantastic luck to actually be Jelly. And when she finally decided to tell us what her previous life had been, we all regretted not having come to her aid sooner.
She grew up in a polite young Neopian family who purchased a lab map for her, in hopes of helping her become happy and dispel her self-conscious ways. She changed gender, she changed species, and she changed color. Every year that they took a family photo, Liddana had changed in drastic ways. In each photo her parents beamed with pride at the beautiful young pet they were fostering into happiness. She had been exotic species and expensive colors, but still refused to wear a smile in the photographs. That is, until the final photograph revealed her in the form she carries now with pride – a shiny, sweet, Jelly Skeith. And despite the smile that caught the light of the camera and reflected it through every corner of her face, her parents had lost their own joyful glows, and scowled.
Liddana revealed to us that her family had grown to be disappointed in her choice to remain a Skeith after so many lab ray sessions. After all the neopoints they had spent on clothing for her and on access to the ray itself. Once Liddana realized how upset they were, she left home, certain that she'd be happier somewhere else, a place where she'd be accepted the way she was, with no fine print.
When asked about what she'd tell others about her situation, Liddana had this to say:
"It seems like you can make your dreams come true when you step into that lab. You're scared you'll come out as something you don't like, or something that you don't want to be. And sometimes you do. And you might have to live with it for a little while until you get lucky enough to change again. But sometimes you walk away as something you like more than you thought you ever would. People might discriminate, or look at you sideways if you're an odd color - jelly, robot, ice... but if you're happy, it shouldn't matter. And you might be happier once you've changed more than once. Maybe you want to test the water and try to find what you like. And sometimes other people won't like what you like.
"Forget them; it's not about them being happy. It's about you being happy. And sometimes it takes more than the lab ray to learn to love yourself."
Liddana, a young Skeith who had no reason to have confidence in herself, found confidence. And her family wasn't the end of discrimination: in Neoschool she even faced trouble, being put down and bullied. Other students often suggested she eat their homework, knowing that as a Skeith, she could. She puts up a tough front when she's offended or taken on based on these stereotypes, but when she's being personal with the family that she's found of herself, she's nothing short of sweet.
Skeiths are no different than any other pets. They want to be loved, they wanted to be treated as equals, and they want to be happy. She even promotes the positive image that Skeiths can have in the Beauty Contest nearly every week – confident that even though she might not win, she might inspire someone else to look on a Skeith knowing that they need a home, and that they aren't a monster. Liddana believes this as well, and is working with other Skeiths to form a positive group to promote awareness about Skeith-Shaming, and bringing it to an end.
"I am a Skeith. I am not going to eat your petpet or your garbage. I am not a disposal system or a pet that wants to be thrown away. I was not made to be something better. I am powerful. I am fierce. I am confident. I am proud of what I am, even if no one else is. I am a Skeith."
Liddana is the founder of the I Am A Skeith campaign, and is welcoming any pet, any color, any age, to join its ranks, so long as they promote its message of kindness and acceptance.