Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bullying comes in many guises

October is Anti-Bullying Awareness Month.  It is a month where we are supposed to heighten awareness of the various kinds of bullying, and the price that is paid by all involved.  There have been a lot of incidents highlighted in the media recently, incidents of bullying of various kinds.  There will be blogs written all month by people who have been victims of bullying.  Some were victims when they were children, others when they were older.  Some were victims because of their sexual orientation, their looks, their behaviour, or any number of things. 

The thing is that bullying is an insidious thing. It comes in many shapes and sizes.  We are all familiar with the more obvious forms:  physical and verbal abuse, ostracizing someone and making them a social outcast within the peer group, disdaining them for whatever reason.  Those are all horrible things, and no one should have to suffer through them.  But the kind of bullying that I'm going to discuss today is the kind that hides itself, that masquerades as something else. 

You see, I'm fat.  I know!  What a shock, right?  It was TOTALLY a shock when someone told me how fat I am!  (Not really.  Sorry...fell into Sarcastic Snark Mode for a moment there!) As a fat woman I have to deal with people letting me know that I'm fat in many ways.  Some give the "Please Don't Sit Next To Me" look when you're getting onto some form of public transportation.  Some snicker as you walk past or make overloud comments that you are supposed to "accidently" overhear.  Some aren't that brave and just whisper as you go by, mortified by your horrible, horrible fatness.  Others yell comments out of passing car windows or across the street.  It happens a lot more than people realize. Most of the time it doesn't even phase me any more.  I have actually had not-fat friends get angry for me when someone has pulled something like that, and it is sweet of them but really not necessary. 

I've come to accept the fact that I'm fat and I probably always will be.  I eat healthy foods, try to move as much as I can, and do my best to maintain healthy habits.  So those obnoxious twits don't really bother me one way or another.  If anything, I sort of feel sorry for them, because the only way that they have to bolster their own self-esteem is to put others down.

No, the ones that still bother me somewhat are the ones who are being "nice" when they throw out the Fat Phobia.  They may be pretending to be nice, or they may honestly and truly be concerned human beings who want others to live long, healthy, and happy lives.  The thing is, they make the mistake of taking it upon themselves to decide who is healthy and happy just based on how people look.  Never mind that the slender person next to me is eating two Big Macs, a large fries and a supersized sugary soft drink. They are obviously healthy because they are slender. 

So what happens next?  This Good Samaritan decides that I need an intervention.  I need someone to point out that if I lost weight I would be healthier and happier (even though I won't necessarily be either).  Because they are nice people, they want to do it gently, so they start a conversation about how their Aunt Mathilda had gastric bypass, lost 150 pounds, and is SO much happier as a consequence.  Or they suggest "better" food choices for me.  Then there is the lady who took food out of a friend's grocery cart, stating that my friend didn't need to eat that.  Yes, it happened.

When this kind of thing happens, we Fatties are at a loss most of the time.  The person doing it isn't trying to be cruel, so being outright rude back to them tends to go against the grain.  But when you think about it, isn't this just another form of bullying?  Isn't it just another form of saying, "Hey, I'm better than you so you should shut up and do what I tell you to do." only with a veneer of civility that your basic brand of bullying doesn't have?  Bullying comes in so MANY guises that it is easy to forget that it IS bullying until you stop and think about it.  By then the moment has passed and all of the things that you could or would have said have gone unsaid because The Polite Bully has gone on their merry way, sure that they've made the world a better place and taught The Fatty a lesson that was sorely needed in their life.  They may even imagine bumping into said Fatty later in life and having The Fatty fall to their now-slender knees in gratitude for those "kind" words.

I'm going to tell you now, if you truly want to be kind, if you truly want to help others then what you need to do is just stop.  Stop before you say anything or do anything.  Stop.  That person's weight or health or happiness is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!  There are many other things that you can legitimately do in this world to help other people.  Offering unsolicited weight or health advice is NOT among those things.  If you truly want to help others, then go volunteer somewhere!  Raise money for some worthy cause!  Look for opportunities to help those in need in ways that are actually helpful!  Just keep your unasked for opinions to yourselves.  Believe me, you'll be happier and The Fatties of the world will be happier.

Stop the bullying.  Whether it is the overt kind or the subtle kind, make an effort to stop it.  Say something when you see it happening, let the instigator know that such behaviour is unacceptable.  It is time that we all did everything possible to really teach our children that everyone has the right to live their lives in the manner that is best for them (within the law, of course), and that no one has the right to judge or try to force others into some kind of cookie cutter "normality".

No matter what guise the bullying takes, when you see it please make an effort and take a stand.  If we all do that, then maybe someday we'll live in a world where people aren't judged by their looks, but rather people strive together for a greater generosity of spirit.

3 comments:

  1. "Then there is the lady who took food out of a friend's grocery cart, stating that my friend didn't need to eat that."

    OMG THAT HAPPENED TO ME. I don't know why people think it's OK. I do grocery shopping for SIX people - five adults and a toddler. The toddler is slightly underweight, and not eating, so he gets whole milk (which is NASTY ick ick gross tastes like EGGS *shudder*) and calorie dense snacks. Some crazy broad thought it was completely ok to come over and take his food out of my cart and tell me I didn't need that!!! WTF!?!?!?!

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  2. thanks for posting..

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  3. Thank you for telling it like it is! I am so sick of unsolicited advice from well-meaning do-gooders!

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