There has been a lot of media coverage in the past year or so with regards to bullying, from the overweight kid who stands up for himself, the bullied bus monitor, the weather girl accused of being an unhealthy role model to viewers and more recently, the case of Amanda Todd, a young girl who took her own life after she felt she had no other recourse. Her youtube video can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej7afkypUsc
This last case, of Amanda Todd, has really got me to thinking about bullies, and what it means to be bullied. So many people have different ideas about what it means and to whom. I think it IS interchangeable. Its not something that can be easily defined or written about in the same sense. Every instance differs based on many variables. ** I would also like to preface this little rant by saying that i do realize that there are varying degrees of bullying, from something as “simple” as name calling and teasing to the more extreme cases that turn violent. In this blog i am covering my own experiences which are the less extreme cases. In no way am i trying to compare my personal experiences with that of someone else. This is only a discourse on the subject in general. Long story short, we need to stop trying to label everything, no need to scientifically produce set variables, just be good to each other. Make sense?
When i was a kid i was picked on. Picked on by brothers at home, ( One moreso than the other) i was told that it was just “teasing” and to “stop being such a suck” name calling is what all brothers do to annoying little sisters right? I got Indian burns on my arms, sat on and farted on, tickled until i peed my pants, teased until i cried, and one time i even got handcuffed to the basement pole while they went to get a slurpee. So..what does that mean? That i was in an abusive relationship with my siblings? Their treatment of me was unwelcome, unwanted and mostly (in MY opinion) unwarranted. I dont believe that those instances left me physiologically or emotionally damaged, and we had a million fantastic times together as well. They would do anything to protect me from danger. So why? What sort of familial constructs are in place here? Why are we set that this kind of behavior is the “norm” for siblings. Have we been regaled with stories of familiar situations for so long that it is deemed acceptable?
Aside from siblings, i was also teased in school. By grade 7 i was still only 4’10 maybe 91 pounds. And by grade 9 i was 5’2 and 100 pounds. I was teased by different people for different reasons. The boys used to tease me that i was just as flat on the front as i was on the back (late bloomer, and by late i mean VERY late) I was teased about my ancestry (Metis and Irish) I was teased about the townhouse i lived in, Although i thought it was awesome! I was teased about everything i wore (because i never had any “brand Name clothes”)
The truth is, it used to bother the hell outta me, and it hurt. It hurt that people used to make fun of me for things i couldn’t control. I couldn’t just magically grow taller, i couldn’t grow boobs overnight, i couldn’t help that my great grandmother was native, i couldn’t control where i lived, what we drove, or what my parents chose to buy me. I couldn’t just ask people to leave me alone because it would just get worse, i couldn’t “tell an adult” because oftentimes we were just told to “ignore it and they will stop” or something similar. I survived. But how did i deal?
By the time i entered high school i had already established a pretty severe self esteem issue. I was the classic girl who loved attention from boys because that meant i was finally pretty enough. I ended up growing an extra inch taller, and filling out a little. But by then i had a skewed view and started down the path of an eating disorder. Luckily for me i had an epiphany of sorts and managed to regain a healthier nutritional style. But in all honesty, I still struggle with body image on a daily basis.
I spent a lot of my early adult years wondering what i could have done differently to have avoided those kinds of experiences. Some of them definitely shaped my view of myself, especially those revolved around my body image. But from where else? I grew up watching t.v and movies where the tall, skinny, beautiful big breasted woman got everything and the mousy brunette was always the plain jane or the nerdy friend. All my magazines centered around how to please my man, wear clothes that hug my body and etc. etc. i could go on for days. Is the media bullying me, is society? What of literature, music? Video games?
So, do i still have to put on my “big girl pants?” Those things from decades ago still hurt, how do we heal? Do we become an even bigger society of people talking to each other about our feelings….how the hell can we expect to do that when we can’t even talk to each other face to face anymore? We are a society who have become what i like to call “alone together”. We sit side by side, texting, googling or whatever, without a single word. So stop bullying?….Maybe there’s an App for that.
After all is said and done, i think what bothers me the most as an adult is the realization that i did it too. As hurt and confused as i was, i did the same thing to other people. More often than not it was to be a part of the herd, to join in with everyone else. I never really understood how big of an impact that my words could have on another person, even though i often cried myself to sleep…how fucked is that? So without using names, i would like to say some things to some people,
1. European girl from school: I have no idea why the hell we were all so mean to you growing up. I remember calling you names and making fun of the accent you had, in actuality i thought it was really neat. Last time i saw you, you were on the bus and you smiled and said hi to me. You said you were just married now and lived outside of the city. You showed me your engagement ring and it was beautiful You looked great and i said so, you treated me like an old friend and i left that day feeling completely ashamed.
2. Chubby kid from school. I don’t remember ever being directly mean to you, but i was indirectly. We made sure to pick you last for things, and never included you in our groups. When we all looked at you and giggled i know you knew it was because you were overweight. You had the nicest eyes out of any boy in our class. Now you are married with a kid and you look fantastic. I still talk to you now and again, and we have never discussed the past.
3. Loner kid. We made sure you were the loner, always called you names, pushed you (verbally) until you cried. Then we would make fun of that. I don’t remember you ever telling on us. Again, i have no idea when it started or why, as we entered high school i got to know you better and we actually used to hang out quite a bit. You never acted as if i did anything wrong to you. I know that i was a part of treating you badly in school and i hope you can forgive me.
This blog was more of a rant than an annoyance, but some things about bullying really does annoy the heck outta me. I hate that as a society people are so fast to jump up and make their voices heard when a case of extreme bullying gains media attention. Where are these people every other day? Surely we are not so naive to think that this does not go on every day, in every city, in every country, throughout time. That doesn’t mean that it is acceptable, but it is expected. We know that as human beings we have a natural instinct for familiarity, or the norm. We want to conform to the group, not stand out. Arguments may arise, but scientifically time and time again, at our most genetic base we will be drawn to another that is similar. Now that does not mean i think that we should all be the same, or that if we are different we should just face the fact that someone will make fun of us….that doesn’t make it right, but it does make it much more likely.
The answer to this is currently out of reach. All we can hope for is that we will treat each other better. Anti-bullying laws are being put into place, but it is not worldwide. Bills will be added, things will get ratified, politics happen and pieces of shit like “Dr. Phil” will still be fighting the good fight.
Oh yeah, and that girl you used to tease? Well she grew up and met Bono!