Heavy: Who's afraid of the big, bad bully?

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17 July 2012

It was bad enough when kids in school chose me last for all of the teams in gym class, but they seldom could do it without some sort of nasty commentary. Anyone who has experienced this knows exactly what I’m talking about.

fat column graphic

Bullies are all around us, and they don’t go away once we’re out of school.

One particular instance that stands out vividly in my mind happened when I moved to a new school when I was about 14-years-old. It was one of my first days and a group of girls with big hair and acid washed designer jeans gathered in a corner a few feet from me. I had learned years prior that the best way to ward off a bully was to ignore them and to never, never let them see that their words and actions affected you in any way. I always waited until I was home and safe in my bedroom before I cried.

But as I ignored these mean girls, they started talking louder and louder until nearly the entire schoolyard could hear them.

“I wonder if we gave her some money maybe she could do her hair and face and look a little better,” said one.

“Nah, that won’t help. She’ll still be fat,” another girl replied and then the whole group burst into a fit of hideous giggles.

Whoever said words do not hurt, has obviously never been on the receiving end of these kind of remarks.

I’ve heard people say that girls are worse than boys when it comes to bullying. I can’t say for sure if this is true, but I can say that I’ve had my share of experiences with both. Girls bully on a mental level. They use their words and their peers to spread the hurt. Boys tend to be more physical. Interestingly enough, my personal experience has been that boys are more physical with other boys, but with girls, their words and peers could rival any of the worst female bullies.

It was a hot summer day and people crowded the local ice-cream parlor seeking relief. The lot was so full with cars that I had to park across the street near the movie theater where a group of about half a dozen teenage boys sat. As I started to cross the road, one of the boys started yelling, his peers cheering him on.

“Oh my God! Look at that fat chick going to get some ice-cream!” yelled the boy. “I’ll bet she orders two banana splits all for herself.”

Several people waiting in line at the window turned to seek out the object of his taunts. It didn’t take long for their eyes to fix on the only fat person crossing the road.

“Boom! Boom! Boom!” the boys started chanting with each step I took.

“Wow! Do you feel the ground shake?” said another.

As I reached the other side, I veered and walked around the corner of the building instead of stepping into line. As soon as I was out of sight of the boys, I practically broke into a run to put as much distance between them and me as possible before I broke down. I was humiliated – and I was 35-years-old when this happened.

Recently, there was a video circulating of a group of boys taunting bus monitor Karen Klein in upstate New York. I watched about 30 seconds of the 10-minute clip before I couldn’t anymore. It was all too familiar. For Klein, the world rallied and showed their support with cash. I wonder if that somehow made the humiliation feel less?

I wish there was an easy answer as to why bullies do what they do. What kind of power do they feel hurting others gives them? What can we do to end bullying? Is it even possible?

Over the years, I’ve developed certain coping mechanisms for when I’m bullied. Most of them involve chocolate, which, of course, is counterproductive.

For more “Heavy” visit the Editorials page at FiddleheadFocus.com. ‘Like’ “Heavy” on Facebook to join in a non-judgmental community. This week, as I focus some attention on the issue of bullying, I extend a special invitation to you to share your own experiences with the Heavy Community on Facebook.

 

Comments

embarassing

When it comes to embarrassing moments, for me they usually come in the form of someone trying to compliment me. A good friend many years ago told me, your a great singer, you don't have to be pretty to make it these days, so you should go for it, or my favorite while shopping with a friend, "Oh you don't have to follow me here, your size in on the other side of the store". I don't think I was being bullied, but still it made me feel a lot lower than my dress size.

Not impressed

I love the fiddlehead focus newspaper, but not when it comes down to the 'Heavy' section. I do not think there needs to be a section every week about being heavy, some may take offense to this section and it is not even interesting to read....

Heavy

In today's news, there are so many articles dealing with "fluff" subjects from fashion (for skinny people, I might add) to celebrity gossip (beautiful, skinny people, also) that the serious issues get looked over. I believe this heavy column is finally a breathe of fresh honesty and relevance. It takes much courage to open yourself up to such a sensitive topic, especially for the whole community to see. I am not sure if homeslice is overweight and feeling shamed about it or if they are skinny and are one of those who mock fat people. I do not consider myself fat. I have gained about 30 pounds since having my first child, but this was after a lifetime of being quite slim with never a weight issue. But I have been the victim of verbal and physical bullying over the years and have zero tolerance for it, no matter what the issue surrounding the bullying. Our society has put such a taboo on those who don't neet the physical requirements for "beauty" that I say kudos to FH focus for finally talking about this issue and making people tink about it, thus possibly changing society's thoughts around the topic. Remember slavery? Remember women's suffrage? Remember smoking won't kill you? Ever hear of someone committing suicide over such a reason? Let's have an open mind and an open heart to these important issues of our day and for those affeced by such issues everyday. Everyone has the right to choose whether or not to watch or read the news. I truly feel this column is encouraging for some, including myself.

Impressed

As always with any publication, print or online, a reader is free to read - or not - any of the content. That does not mean the content is not valid or of interest to others. In point of fact, not only is Monica's weekly column interesting to read she displays immense courage week to week "owning" her particular situation and putting her name to it. I admire - and find interesting - anyone with the courage of convictions who puts owns up to what they say and/or write. The above commenter proves how easy it is to do the exact opposite. Keep writing Monica - you are interesting.

I remember 40 years ago,

I remember 40 years ago, someone called me a derogatory name concerning my weight. To this day, I still remember exactly what was happening when I was called that name. It caused me to have bad feelings towards all the family members...Words do hurt, a lot....thanks for your honesty in this column....