I wasn’t going to do a post about bullying, mainly because so many other bloggers have already covered it, however my niece asked me if I would since it is a subject that is extremely important to her.
This is my story:
I was born a preemie, under 5lbs. As a young child I was not overweight, I had a lot of friends, and I was happy and healthy. Somewhere between 3rd and 4th grade I started gaining weight, and I gained it quickly. By the time I was 1/2 way through 4th grade I was 180lbs wearing women’s plus size clothing. This didn’t seem to be a big deal to everyone else in elementary school, of course it mattered to me, I didn’t like being so heavy, I wished I could wear the clothes smaller girls wore, but my friendships and my overall life stayed the same, and I was still pretty happy and liked myself. When middle school started things took a drastic turn, I became the “fat” kid. People were extremely mean to me, including some of my childhood friends. I got called names, had food thrown at me, and some kids would even oink when I walked by. There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t get picked on in some form or another. I had people tell me I was worthless, disgusting, a waste of space, and so much more. It hurt, more than most people can imagine, I felt so sad, and I wanted to lose weight, I really did. The problem was that the more sad I got, the more I ate. The more I got called out and left out the more I stayed home and became inactive. I would sit in the back of the class so people didn’t stare at me, I skipped school on days where I was suppose to give presentations because I didn’t want to stand in front of the class, and I would come home every school day and cry.
There were plenty of days where I thought it might be easier if I died, but more often than not I just felt like crawling under the covers and hiding FOREVER.
During 8th grade I finally got up the will power to start dieting, I was eating healthier and I was working out after school, as the days went by I ate less and less, and worked out more and more. By the summer following my 8th grade year I had almost completely quit eating, and I was working out for at least 4 hours a day, sometimes 8 or 9. I was losing a lot of weight, I eventually got down to 98lbs, I had an eating disorder, and you know what happens when you develop an eating disorder when you are heavy? No matter how much weight I lost I always saw fat when I looked in the mirror.
The crazy thing is people started telling me I looked sickly, I was too skinny, My skin wasn’t as bright. All I could think was “Well it’s always something, I guess I will just never be good enough” And all the while these people were saying those things I was still seeing fat.
I eventually moved away to another state with my parents, where people didn’t know the “fat” me and I made a lot of friends. After my mother took me to a doctor and made me start eating again, I put on a few pounds, I still didn’t eat a lot, but I was eating and I was healthier, but I still felt fat, after high school I still felt fat, and today I still feel fat.
Here’s the thing, and the reason I tell this story I really do not think bullies understand the long term effects of their actions. Sure I was fat, but until other people had a problem with it, I was still relatively happy, I could still love myself. After being put down for years it became harder and harder to love myself. I’m 31 years old now, way past the days of high school, and it’s still hard to love myself.
Here is what I don’t understand, the suicide statistics for children, teens and young adults who have been bullied are astounding, What is so different now that so many of these young people are turning to suicide? Bullying has been going on for years and years and years, but suicide numbers are on the rise. I want to know why. Could it possibly be the importance that society and media puts on image, looks, and talent? The lack of parental involvement?
I see a lot of anti bullying campaigns reaching out to children and teens, and I think that’s great, but I think the real people to reach out to is adults, I think we must first start with the people who are or will be parenting these children and teens, because let’s be honest bully’s are not born, they are raised. As long as some adults continue to bully or be mean, children will follow suit, the cycle will continue.
I have seen it often, people like to pinpoint young people and say that is where the bullying issue lies, but it goes far beyond, I see bullying in college, as a military wife I see bullying in the army and within army wife communities, I see bullying at grocery stores, and on the street outside of my apartment, and then we wonder why the children of our country bully and pick on each other.
It is sad to me that adults still feel the need to be so hateful. I fully believe bullies are the way they are either because they were raised to be that way or they feel the need to put others down to make up for their shortcomings,
I am on the fence when it comes to charging and sentencing children and teens for bullying when the person they bullied committed suicide, the reason I say this is because on one hand as a mother if someone was bullying my child and they committed suicide I would of course want some type of justice, however again as a mother it is hard for me to rationalize ruining another child’s life, especially in a case where the child is only acting on what he or she has been taught. I think we need more support for children, both bullies and the children being bullied and we need to start holding some of the adults in this country accountable. I believe that a form of boot camp if you will, with a psychiatric team involved would be better suited to a bully than a jail cell, where they will probably only learn to be a bigger bully or learn to be bullied. I think adults need to start playing a more vital roll in their children’s lives, I understand that some people have to have both parents working, or single parents must work, I am not saying not to work if you are a parent. I am saying when you come home from work be present, and not just in the same house, or even same room present. I see so many parents both working and stay at home who only have conversations with their children while surfing the internet, and posting on facebook, parents who spend their whole days on the phone or in front of a TV, I want to see more involvement because I do think that is a large part of the issue, children do not get as much genuine quality time anymore, they are handed off from person to person or from Tv to game console, and it’s sad. We can’t expect the children to grow up properly if they lack guidance.
You know what else needs to happen? Society and the media need to stop idolizing only the beautiful, or talented, we need to stop worshiping drug addict movie stars and we need to show our youth that being famous or beautiful is not what makes you a successful human being, We need to start idolizing people who make a difference or have made a difference in this world, people who stand up for their beliefs and walk their own line. People with morals, and ethics.
And finally we need to stop being hypocrites, be the change we want to see in our youth, because otherwise all they see is talk and no action.
I will leave you with a video that my niece shared with me, that I think is pretty powerful, enjoy and please feel free to share your thoughts, you know I love to hear them