Ok, so there is that phrase “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I, for one, think that is a big line of, well, something. Something not pleasant. I was inspired to write this for one of my fellow ChicagoNow bloggers who has a book coming out in regards to why bullying needs to be addressed more and not overlooked as just some sort of harmless teasing.
Kids can probably be the cruelest creatures on the planet. We, as adults, can also be cruel, yes. Please don’t get me wrong. But when this cruelty is dealt out at an impressionable age, it’s much harder to shake off. Yes, I am nearly 5’10”. Do I still cringe when someone makes a really articulate comment when I am out saying something like “Wow, you’re huge!” Yes. I do. I won’t lie. But when you are 10 years old and this is told to you, it feels like your whole world is crashing down. When you are repeatedly told anything, you start to believe it. Obviously, this is what you must be and what you look like to the world. I immediately retreat back to when I was that 10 year old who was always in the back row of every class picture because I was so “big” when I hear things like this. There it is, class picture, 1992- back row- Amy and all of the boys, who I am also taller than. I was never the cute little cheerleader. I was the gawky, awkward, chubby girl. Definitely not known for being the class beauty. People do not realize how much a negative comment can affect someone for a very long time.
People also don’t realize how these comments can have serious consequences on those that they bully. It’s not just the kids, it’s the media too. Why do you think that there are a ridiculous amount of young (and I mean YOUNG) girls dieting? When they probably have absolutely no need to? I’m not advocating for every kid to go eat three slices of pizza for lunch. But when your daily diet becomes diet coke and half of a bagel, there is a problem.
Bullying comes from all areas. It can even come from people like teachers. I once had a teacher tell me that I was “too big” to sit in any of the front rows of a classroom and she moved me to the back. Wow, that is great for the self-esteem of a middle school child. And I also find it appalling that this came from a teacher, who is supposed to be supportive and encouraging of her students.
People ask me today, “Why are you so bothered? He is some total loser at a bar making a comment to you after he’s had one too many Jameson shots.” I’d love to say, “I’m not bothered.” But then, in reality, I am. Because those words leave scars. They may not be physical scars, but they are there. I may look different now, but the awkward girl lives inside. And probably always will. I’ve accepted that now, though. I’ll never be naturally “perfect”- but who really is?
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