Sticks, Stones, and Survival

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me..” I’m afraid this is wishful thinking. Although bullying has always existed, it’s never been as fiercely obvious as it is in our society today. I cannot ignore or procrastinate about writing on something that recently has struck me on such a deep, emotional level. Coincidentally, I was just discussing the harms of bullying with my sister-in-law yesterday, and just today a friend shared this link on her Facebook page:

http://todayhealth.today.com/_news/2012/10/02/14186379-too-fat-for-tv-anchor-fires-back-at-critic-outpouring-ensues

The email to this woman anchor brought me back to my childhood….

..when I was in 3rd grade standing on the dreaded scale in front of 20 other students exclaiming loudly, “134 pounds! You REALLY need to watch that!” Or when I was around 10 years old eating pizza at Pizza Hut and peeking over the booth behind me to be playful with the other kids on the other end, when their mother looked at my pizza-stained face and uttered in disgust, “You’re a pig.”

How about the every day jabs by the boys such as “fatty” or “fatso..” or when my older thin sister was standing behind me in the line for the school bus, and a boy yelled, “You can’t even see your sister behind you!” These were just a few of the MANY hurtful comments.

You would think these are just things kids say…”out of the mouths of babes” perhaps? Or “kids say the darn’dest things?” No. These kids learn these awful behaviors from adults. Just in the last few months alone, some grown women have said such things to me as,  

“You really won’t be able to eat like that when you’re not nursing (breastfeeding)..”

“If you are on Weight Watchers, you really should be taking the stairs (as opposed to the elevator)…”

“How many calories are in the your coffees…?”

“Now..how many points are in those Doritos…?”

Once again, these I did not solicit their advice, mind you.   

Who do people think they are?  What gives them the right to insult others? Do they feel better about themselves when they point out the “flaws” of their peers? 

Fortunately, I had the amazing support of my loving family who would fight tooth and nail to protect me…a father who made numerous phone calls to parents, a sister who would (literally) punch anyone who whispered a peep about me…and for them, I survived the cruel, relentless bullying. Because of these experiences and my loved ones who fought for me,  I was able to take the toxicity of the bullies words and transform them into something much more powerful– these words made me simultaneously strong AND sensitive. I feel deeply. I love deeply. I am kind to others. I stand up for what I believe in. I defend injustice. I respect people. I can relate to people. I am better now….and those words did hurt me…but they did not break me.

Not all people are able to develop resiliency and a healthy body image after repeated verbal abuse. Much like the support I received from my family, this anchor discussed the support she received on her Facebook page. There needs to be more of this ALL AROUND. The love will conquer the hate. We all just need to stand up to people with malicious intent. They need to know it’s NOT OK to hurt others because they need to feel better about themselves.

Love will always prevail. Stop the hate. Stand up for those you love.