Pin-up’s Against Bullying was founded by Mrs “T” Marie who is a beautiful soul with a big heart. The mission of Pin-up’s Against Bullying is simple – to help raise awareness that bullying will not be tolerated.
Pin-Up’s Against Bullying educates, offers advice and support relating to all bullying, body shaming and other negative ideals society has enforced. They are a fabulous support network to those who need it. Each member of Pin-Up’s Against Bullying is inspiring, strong and empowering. With chapters across the US, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Australia and New Zealand, Pin-Up’s Against Bullying is gaining more and more worldwide recognition.
Pin-Up’s Against Bullying firmly believe that together, through positive thoughts, words, actions and behaviours we can make a substantial impact against bullying.
You can find more information on the website http://www.pinupsagainstbullying.org or via the Facebook page www.facebook.com/PinupsAgainstBullying or on Instagram by searching the hashtag #pinupsagainstbullying
Bullying is abuse…and it comes in many forms
We might all be guilty of bullying on some level at some point in our lives whether that be teasing in the playground from our childhood years, wanting to impress our peers by being cruel to others, being part of a group of girls who mock another for her choice of outfit, leaving a nasty comment on a Facebook profile or even lashing out in anger (“moment of madness”) with a hurtful comment to someone who might have initiated it – this can make us all guilty as well as a being a victim ourselves.
Bullying takes place in so many forms and we need to set an example whist we educate the younger generation that bullying is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. Bullies are not only internet trolls or strangers, they can be friends, family members, wives, husbands and other children – they often don’t think about their actions and how their words or a throwaway comment might actually have a severe impact on somebody.
Social media plays a massive part in bullying in society today and people being bullied can be targeted in more ways than one. It is no longer about being afraid to go to school, it is being afraid to post a picture for fear of being targeted by cyber trolls, being scared to receive a hurtful and threatening email or being afraid to read your text messages – this does not just apply to children, this also applies to adults.
Bullying can be physical, verbal, emotional and mental torture to a victim. It can take place in any location and at any time – and especially with social media, it might feel like there is no escape for a victim.
People in a toxic and volatile relationship may not see that they are also being bullied, whether that is in a verbal form or the physical. Known as domestic violence and domestic abuse, I believe this form of behaviour is also bullying. The bully often has the power and the control. Being in a relationship such as this can have a devastating impact that cuts you deep and haunts you for the rest of your life. In some instances, a victim may feel the need and requirement for many years of counselling and support groups. This type of bullying can lead to devastating consequences. It is not just about the physical scars – verbal abuse is just as painful and can haunt you long after you find the courage to walk away. Women can be told that they are not good enough, they are ugly, nobody else will ever want them, they are useless, nobody likes them, they are fat, they look disgusting…these horrible, cruel and untrue comments can cause issues such as low self esteem, no confidence and lack of self belief. This is bullying. This can also lead to a ‘knock on effect’ for many years to come.
Forms of bullying can also occur in a working environment whether that be derogatory comments, feeling as though you are being “singled out”, having people insult your work by saying it is “rubbish” and having it thrown back at you or being copied in on an email where you are blatantly insulted and belittled. Often people are too afraid to report such incidents to management or HR because they do not wish to “cause any problems” – this is similar to children who do not wish to report bullying to a teacher, for fear of repercussions. This fear prevents us from speaking up. How sad that as adults we are afraid of repercussions just as much as we were as children. We may have moved on in our age, career and life – but bullying can still dominate us.
Hurtful words, comments and behaviour can have a severe impact on victims – something said from ten years ago can still have an impact today. Even when you are riled up and you may feel your own comments are justified by retaliating, remember, you do not have to attend every argument that you are invited to. Do not dignify with a response, walk away, hold your head up high – be the better person.
Always being kind and positive can make you a better person. Complimenting rather than insulting immediately puts a stop to bullying and cruel comments. We need more kindness. We need more positivity. If everyone tried to practice “being kind and positive”, then bullying would end. People have feelings, they deserve to be treated with compassion and respect. Even if you are kind and positive and it is not reciprocated, at least you tried – you do not have to resort to being hurtful and negative. I am a firm believer in the saying “If you do not have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.
Below are quotes, stories and images from people from all over the world who have felt the impact of bullying whether that be from someone they love, a stranger, a friend or they are a victim of domestic abuse. These people have been brave enough to share with you some of the most hurtful things that have been said to them over the years. They have all been affected, they have been hurt, they have been sad. But they have fought to become strong and they will not let bullying in any form affect them. They want to share with you their story – to help inspire others.
*disclaimer – The photos below have been submitted by the individual participants for the sole purpose of being used for this blog feature. All rights are reserved to the original owner*
“We are more than your hurtful words. We are more than what you try to label us. We are people. We say no to bullying and abuse in any form”
Natalia, 23 – “The story behind my quote is that no matter what I did, if I lost weight I was too ugly to my mom but if I was extra large, I was a fatass to my mom and an embarrassment. The picture is blurred because it’s how I felt but now I love myself and I will keep my head up. What helped me look forward is my passion for writing and singing. No matter what happened to me, I am me and no one can bully me out of the love I have for myself. I was also bullied in school. I was a nerdy girl and people would want me to do their homework and I wouldn’t so I would get spit at, thrown down the stairs and rocks thrown at my head. It was a day to day basis at school but I never let them see me cry. If I wasn’t bullied at school, I was bullied at home. My favorite quote I live by is “Nothing is permanent in this wicked world, not even our troubles ” by Charlie Chaplin. I was also molested when I was 7 by my stepdad and I know many girls, boys, women and men go through that also but I just want them to know that no matter what has happened to you don’t look at it as if it’s your fault because it is not. What is the best thing to do is speak up. I didn’t because I was too scared but keep a journal and write about it, it will keep you strong.”
Harriet, 17 – “‘Gingers have no souls, so you’re going to hell.’ The comment that haunts me to this day, a girl said this to me in year 9. This inspired me to look into vintage and embrace who I am. I have dyed my hair, but not because she said that, because I wanted to. Pin ups stand proud and fight bullying!”
Hanna, 29 – “So I decided to use Finnish word, because this way I got to hear it when I was younger. I’ve been bullied for so long and heard so many words that hurt, but I picked this. In my opinion this is the word no one should ever use about a girl/woman, no matter what the language is. So “huora” translates to “whore”. Though English word does not feel that bad for me, that’s why I chose the original. And adjectives like “ugly/pathetic/fat/you choose whore”, I’ve probably hear them many times. How stupid it is to call a 12-year old girl a whore? Just because you don’t like her? She’s different, she’s not wearing latest and most expensive clothes? You don’t think she’s pretty? She’s not cool enough? Someone still thinks those things give them a right to use such insulting and hurtful word. I felt so bad to even see that word written down so I had to take this second pic too.”
Fran, 24 – “For years, for far too many years, I was bullied into believing that I was too fat to be loved, that I was too far outside of beauty ideals to be considered worthy of loving. But now I have come to realise that my worth is not dependent on the love and validation of others. I have learnt to accept myself, and in doing so I have learnt to love myself, no matter what anyone else thinks or says.”
Traci – “‘You’re a he/she’ this was said to me in 1999. ‘Do you have a d*ck or p*ssy in your pants’ – this was said to me twice in 2015. ‘That tells me you are a tomboy’ – said to me in 2015 by a friend (former friend now). Words do hurt. They can make a shy woman become self conscious about her appearance to the point where one doesn’t want to leave the house. Do I change my jeans and t-shirt appearance to suit those that like to humiliate me? No. Do I wish I was never born? No. Do they control my comings and goings? Yes. Should I have mouthed back? Yes. But I didn’t. I was brought up to ignore and disregard. Such behaviour did curb my chat-room experience/my expectations. Once I got to leave my shy and self conscious shell to try partake in a conversation between two strangers before they both kinda cut me out of the conversation. One of them suddenly got up and said ‘I am out of here, leaving you alone.’ What did he say within earshot of myself and looking right at me? – ‘Do you have a d*ck or p*ssy in your pants?’ After three days of dwelling in this, I called the customer service people to talk to them about what happened. A nice consoling female spoke with me and apologised for the unfortunate incident – it wasn’t her fault. Less than 2 weeks later I was asked this same question by someone else. Last but certainly not least, I asked my friend ‘Do you think I dress or act differently than other females?’ His answer ‘Your jeans and t-shirts tell me one thing, you haven’t outgrown the tomboy phase’. I did ask him what he thought but I was shocked at his answer. I ended the friendship in July after two years of being around him off and on. I don’t feel any remorse.”
Amanda, 29 – “Here’s my picture. My ex boyfriend was the worst for my self esteem, constantly tearing me down every chance he could. He managed to make me hate who I was and how I looked. I was a shell of the person I used to be. Breaking away from him was my first step to healing. It’s taken over a year, but I can say I’m 100% happy with who I am, and I love the girl I see in the mirror!”
Bekki – “I’ve always been interested in the alternative side, it is the one place where I feel comfortable with myself and my body, and because of it, I get bullied. I’ve also always been self conscious about my body, as people have always made fun of my weight, ever since I was around 9 or 10. Because of it I’ve always panicked about wearing shorts, and last week I ended up having to sit out of gym because I couldn’t bear the thought of wearing shorts. But, I know that being alternative makes me unique, and my body isn’t ‘fat’, it’s just right.”
Svetlana, 29 – “I am Russian but currently live in Switzerland. Now I am happily married and have a son. I am a happy and a self-confident woman. But it has not always been like that. At school I used to be being bullied for my love to the books and the excellent marks. My appearance was the object of bullying as well. My face, my body, the first hair covering my legs… No wonder that I felt very insecure and developed an eating-disorder. It took months of therapy and inner-work to overcome the disease. And now I am struggling for body positivity and trying to help other women to develop self-love and to become more self-confident.”
Christian Simone, – 30 “My quote comes from family especially my step father who felt as a dark fattie no one would want to be my friend God forbid a man would want me. I worked hard and gave way more than needed as I always felt like was undeserving of anyone. I gave myself away to men who aren’t even worth to drink my bath water. Now as I have lost 100lbs and have gotten my cycle certification and started a plus fit blog The Plush Cyclist I know I’m strong and a everything life is. I’m Plush but one of the baddest. We all don’t have to have a tiny waist and big butt to be pretty either.”
Christi, 36 (Founder, President and CEO of Dames for Dreams and Chapter Head of Seattle Washington for Pin-up’s Against Bullying)- *Caution-Possible Trigger* – “You’re my problem child!” she exclaimed, “I wish you were dead!” My bully started at home. I have tried to overcome in spite of everything. Often times she wins because now as an adult my bully is in my head. Like venom poisoning my self esteem. If my bully was outside of my head I would punch her lights out for talking to me like that. There are countless things said to me that play like a recording in my brain. These words cut the deepest. I wish you were dead? Who says that? To someone that she knew was struggling with a deep destructive depression. “Why don’t you just go kill yourself.” Deafening. Repetitive. Rings loudly, in mega phone volumes.”
Lottie (@miss_lotti_gore ), 27 – This was put as a comment on one of my Instagram photos a few months back. I think that’s why it sticks. I remember just feeling embarrassed and so deleted it straight away. I’ve just started to become more comfortable in my post motherhood skin and this set me right back into despair. Being discriminated against for having tattoos is something that sadly happens a lot and so unfortunately I’m used to those comments. People don’t realise that attacking people online is still bullying and even though you can’t see the person your are affecting they’re still raw and real.”
Treasure – “I had liked someones “to be honest” on Instagram (so maybe this was my fault) and it was shared so the friend of mine of course had nice things to say about me but the other girl of whom I didn’t know at all only had negative things to say about me of course coming from a bigoted mindset. After she had posted what she felt was “honest” I contacted my friend and asked if she had something against me or if she really just judges people based on what she sees. My friend told me it was nothing personal. As crazy as that mess was it just showed me that everyone is very well entitled to their own opinion and if that girl wants to judge me and say that I’m ugly and that I don’t care about my looks then shes more than welcome but I really hope she soon decides to find her heart and gets to know someone first. I have a very unique relaxed and yes care free style but in my honest opinion, I make it work and I know I’m pretty and I’m pretty damn confident! Her words hurt at the time but I’m okay now and going to enjoy my care free looks and my gorgeous weight!”
Ashlea, 27 – “This comment was made to me by a loved one and has stuck with me for the longest time.. It was said to me as a very insecure 16 year old who had limited friends and zero body confidence yet I still mustered up the response “they can like me for who I am rather than how I look” and no matter how much I ever told myself that the constant verbal beating from everyone on how I looked made me feel that how I looked wasn’t EVER good enough and there would always be something wrong with it. I over came this by starting to believe in myself. It can spout from just the tiniest bit of belief you just have to be persistent with it and great results will come. Whether on the Internet or face to face terms like these and many others can be more than hurtful and can make or break even the best of people because you never ever know what that person is facing everyday. So be kind and considerate.”
Carrie-Ann – “My friend said this to me when I was 11, at a time when I was throwing away my lunch, constantly feeling hungry and pedaling away on my mum’s exercise bike until my legs begged for mercy. My weight has been up and down over the years, and while she’s probably long forgotten it, that mean little comment is always in the back of my mind, even 19 years later and no matter what size I am. Please everyone, be kind – your words can do so much damage.”
Michelle (@mindsetforlifeltd, http://www.mindsetforlife.co.uk), 22 – “This is how I see it, anything that induces embarrassment or shame or involving belittling is bullying. A lot of bullying is said under the guise of it being a ‘joke’ but saying something cutting, then claiming it’s a joke, doesn’t diminish it’s pain. This was said to me by a guy and my response is this: I am not my race, I am not a label and I am certainly not something to tick off your list. I am a Body Confidence Coach and the creator of the Scarred Not Scared campaign. I am also the founder of the company Mindset For Life which empowers women to not just love their bodies but their life. I became passionate about this after 15 surgeries left me with many scars that cover my body.”
Beverly, 43 – “I experienced a great deal of bullying as a child which led to a shockingly low self esteem, depression and feeling like I wanted to end my life. I think it was my terribly low self esteem that led to me to end up in an abusive relationship. I left that relationship 3 years ago. I was then able to re-build my life. I was able to see that the bullies words were just that: words. I have been able to separate myself from those words. I made a decision to stop believing the horrible things that were said to me and start believing the good things. I have a much better self esteem and confidence. So much so that I have started to make the tentative steps into performing burlesque. I’m very proud of myself and my journey.”
Briony, 22 – “I felt worthless until I realised that insults are really the other person’s insecurity.”
Beth, 31 – “I remember first being called fat when I was 6 at Primary School. I was always the “fat” one. Always the “ugly”. My nanna once told me it was puppy fat and I would grow out of it but it didn’t happen! I spent all of my youth worried about my weight and have spent the majority of my life on diets. In my late teens/early 20’s I went through several different phases – punk, skater, mosher, trying to find who I was. I was called weird all of the time by people who saw me or who I worked with. They didn’t know me though, or the struggles I had trying to be happy with how I looked. I am now 31 and peoples opinions on the way I look no longer have any influence over me. I might still be fat, and some people might still think I’m weird, but I just don’t care anymore. I am happy, I’m confident, and I have finally accepted that this is how I look. This is me 💗”
Cheyenne, 20 – “Comments like this caused me to develop an eating disorder at age 13 which resulted in self harm and hospitalization. I still battle with this at 20 years old.”
Linz, 32 – “When I was at school there was a group of girls who always used to say hurtful things about my appearance. Mainly about my hair which is quite thick and frizzy. It made me really self conscious about my hair and I use to straighten it every day which was not healthy for it at all. I only embraced my hair and my appearance once I went to art college where being individual is celebrated and the bullies were gone from my life for good.”
Miss Curved Nerd, 24 -“My hurtful comment is that several guys told me when I was younger that no one would ever want to be with me and one went so far as to say that why would anyone ever want to have sex with me as I would crush them because of my size. At the time, it was hurtful and upsetting because I had been bullied most of my life due to my size and I never thought that anyone would be so cruel. He thought he had the right to judge me based on a few photos of myself I had online, which is something that no one should ever have the right to do – never assume. I have proven many times over now that I am beautiful despite my size, my size does not define who I am or my happiness. I have a loving partner who I am marrying next year and he loves me no matter what I look like Everyone deserves to be loved. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and if someone thinks that you don’t deserve to be happy or loved, then they have something seriously wrong with the way they think. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. I now run the Miss Curved Nerd website to inspire people from all walks of life. You don’t have to be what society calls normal to fit in in life, just be yourself. It’s not only a journey to help others, but my own personal journey with depression,weight loss and body confidence.”
Lotte (@thetruthfairie), 30 – “A throwaway comment made by a stranger, that bought back the personal insecurities I had for always being bigger than everyone else, and at that moment I wanted to lock myself away. Here’s the poem I wrote about it –
Social media gives every Tom, Dick and Harry their five minutes of fame within the confines of an add comment box.
Jovial conversing soon turns sour with the input of a keyboard warrior friend of a friend.
I don’t do fat girls.
Meant in jest or to offend, no matter the reasoning, this earring wearing stranger, touched a nerve, a past, my past.
Snidey comments, moments of horror and dispair, that seemingly had disappeared, in that moment haunt me.
I’m the victim again, disgusted by own flesh and gluttony, pulling layer upon layer of darkness upon myself to cover up the rolls.
Shaken from my recollection, i hear the ringing of compliments within my ears, the eyes of a loved ones gazing upon my naked flesh in awe, at its beauty, I smile.
We’ve come far, this body and I, and although it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’ll do for me, and that’s all that matters.”
Amelia (@mamatwohoots), 32 – “As a teenager I was called every name under the sun for a spotty, late developing awkward kid with strict parents. It was another lifetime ago and I honestly couldn’t repeat those names for you now because I rejected them completely- they might have described me but they didn’t define me. I left those people behind and surrounded myself with confident, supportive, loving people who keep me right. If I have a message for anyone who is suffering bullying at this point in their life it’s that the hurt is so very real in the present but it doesn’t have to be in the future- you are wonderful and unique beyond measure you just haven’t realised it fully yet.”
Lynsay, 40 – “Well this is me…I’ve always been a small person… quite slight. You wouldn’t expect bullying but there was. It was mainly as a teenager. ‘Oi anorexic! Get some food in ya!’ And so on…You try to not let it get to you but it does. I even went to my GP to see if there was anything I could do. BUT I was fine…my BMI was OK and told not to worry! Even in adulthood you get snide remarks…’wouldn’t get my left leg in your skirt!’ I’ve always been a size 6 to 8 and this is me!!! I’m now 40 and only just loving myself and the way I look. Always under the impression I couldn’t dress a certain way…but I can!!!! And I love it!!!!!”
Nicola, 25 – “When I was around 11-12 years old someone I went to school with called me ‘fatty Texas’ (as my t shirt said Texas on) when I was walking to the corner shop to get my nan some milk. I cried all the way back and have remembered that very vividly ever since.”
Zoey, 27 – “Everything about that day is burned into my brain. Every now and then all of a sudden and out of nowhere “BANG” the entire event flashes before my eyes like an old weathered film! I could be asleep, driving, showering or enjoying the company of friends and then all of a sudden my mind is years in the past, palms are sweaty, short breathed & it’s almost like for that moment in time; everything turns into nothing and I become nothing too. That is trauma!! Unfortunately, there is no cure but to regain some type of self-love & respect then try to believe the opposite of everything I was ever put through, taught or heard. There was no point, none what so ever & that’s the saddest part of all.”
Cacao Papow, 27 – “This was said to me by a ‘friend’ in front of other ‘friends’ when I was 16. Like a fool, I sat and smiled – I so regret that. I will always endeavour to rise above feelings of anger and hatred. I’m 27 now but, when I think back to that moment, I just feel like waste of space – a pointless blob. I doubt people understand the impact of their words.”
Miss Florence Flounce, 28 – “I am a lover of all things vintage and pin-up. I sufferer with condition known as congenital haemangiomata. This is a medical condition which normally affects people in the form of birth marks or port wine stains on skin. I have a rare form of this blood vessel deformation whereby the problematic blood vessels are internal rather than on the surface of the skin. I spent a large amount of my childhood in Great Ormond Street Hospital and have had numerous operations to help me walk as well as I can today and to reduce the extent of the internal bleeding I continue to suffer with as a result of my condition. Growing up I spent a lot of time hobbling around in between stints on crutches and in a wheelchair. Throughout secondary school this was obviously tough. I was never in the “popular gang”. I threw myself into my studies and at school and university. In 2010 I graduated with a first in my masters degree and came top of my year group. In 2011 I then qualified as a pharmacist. Today in this job I am lucky enough to give back to others some of the amazing care that I have received myself over the years by Drs, nurses and pharmacists alike. Outside of work I now also run a blog with a good friend of mine Cacao Papow (papowandflo.wordpress.com). We are complete opposites and like to use the blog to show others that no matter your background, race, colour, size or disability…pinup and vintage style can make you feel beautiful. I am who I am now and I do what makes me happy. This year I have unfortunately spent a great deal of time in and out of hospital but my passion for vintage and pinup and my dedication to my job and our blog is something I get so much joy out of. In this picture I am holding up quotes of some of the names I have been called over the years. Today I can look at these names and laugh, because yes I do Limp…but I am an independent, beautiful, and successful woman! I OWN my condition and if I want to refer to myself as special then so be it, anybody else however…how dare they! I am one in a million. I may not be what society classes as physically perfect but I am me and I wouldn’t have it any other way!”
Jane – “I was going to write about my abusive relationship which began in 2004. Then I was dragging out my Christmas decorations and found an old sketchbook from art college. This relationship was my first serious one and so toxic I honestly believe it has molded my way of thinking for years after. I met *Dave when I 17 and working part time as a waitress in the local hotel. I was taken with him immediately, very handsome and very charming. We dated over the summer, he was very image obsessed and told me he liked me slim and blonde. I am already blonde and whenever we were out he would point out girls slimmer than me ‘You would look so much sexier like that” he would tell me. I was 5 foot 5 and 10 stone. Healthy I thought as I’m quite muscly. Then he used to weigh me at his house’just for fun’ and used to treat me when I lost weight. My friends could see what what was happening but I was oblivious and falling in love. Once the summer ended he went back to uni up north. I really missed him but he still wanted updates on how my weight was. I’d been out on a birthday meal and had a 2 course meal. ‘You’re useless!!!!’ How was he supposed to love me when I abused my body, made myself fat. He said he would be the laughing stock of all his mates with a fat useless moose of a girlfriend. This was his coined phrase. He was always sponging off me when I visited him always ended up paying. When I said I couldn’t afford to visit him I was verbally abused again. At college I was studying fashion and fine art so naturally I was always researching fashion shows and exposed to skinny models (this was late 90’s early 2000’s so skinny and Sex and the City was in). I found a way to release my frustration and sadness through art as I’d dropped 2 stone and become incredibly skinny and felt faint all the time. I’d skip breakfast, lunch and survive on diet coke and coffee. I’d eat at home so I wouldn’t get hassle from my parents. I’ve included the picture I painted after I’d gone to his uni to surprise him and he was too busy in his flatmates room rattling her. It represents the emotional bruising and heartache of the deception. Over the next few months I was heartbroken, suffering from emotional stress and need to learn to love food and myself again. Art and crafts gave me an outlet for my hurt but I could also lose myself in a portrait or some sewing and give me space to heal. Even now I find my self apologising if I think I have been ‘useless’ but it’s few and far between when I do it. These days I say to myself sod him, I’m bloody awesome. Heavier than I was but hey, I’ve got a cracking set of knockers!!”
Georgia, 20 – “My friend said this to me when I asked why one of her other friends wouldn’t speak to me when we were 15. I always think of this as the start of my spiral into anorexia.”
Nikola (@nikola_noelle), 18 – “I value my presence on the Internet. So far it has been positive and it’s a good way to keep in touch with my family and friends. But over the past week I experienced the unpleasant side of social media. One day I logged onto Instagram. One of my favourite Instagram accounts had two people bullying her. So I did my duty and blocked and reported them. But one of them was still being rude. Out of curiosity I asked him why he was doing that. He responded with anger and he was bullying myself and others. Next thing I know, a picture of me (I was in a baggy sweater, sweatpants with no makeup on. And it was at night when I finished hunting.) is on his profile with this quote as his caption; “WANTED! Watch out!! She has belly rolls and she’s not afraid to use them, she’s about two ft tall with a double chin. If you see her please call 555-2345-ANIMAL SHELTER.” I don’t know what this guy was thinking. I could barely think myself. My body wouldn’t stop shaking and sweating. But then it got me all fired up. This guy doesn’t even know me! This guy needs to pipe down. So I took action and posted that picture and told my followers to go report and block him for bullying and harassment. And people that I know, and didn’t know, had some powerful responses for him, and even left some for me. Random people were liking my pictures, saying that I was gorgeous and also saying don’t listen to him. And those people gave me hope for the world. When we band together, we can stop bullying and harassment from getting worse. Bullying is abuse. It hurts. It can affect the rest of someone’s life. It can end up being the result of something fatal. Let’s stop it, shall we?”
Miss Mozzy Dee (@missmozzydee http://www.facebook.com/MissMozzyDee) – “There are a lot of hateful people out there, and for what reason? I just don’t know. I have had my share of bullies, and I know how it feels to be shamed and ridiculed on my looks, goals, and accomplishments. Even my personal life has been criticized even when the other party doesn’t know what is going on or the truth behind my actions. The damage is sometimes irreconcilable, but the experience is what has made me who I am today. I have come out of hate and shame by others, scarred but not beaten. I have learned valuable lessons through them, and had I not known what kind of people these hate-mongerers are, they would still be in my life today, and I would’ve suffered even more. I am blessed with my friends and family who have stuck behind me through these times, and I’m thankful that toxic people are out of my life for good. I still don’t understand why they say all these bad things about me, why I’m the one who deserved such treatment…But you know what? I don’t want to know…”
Spooky Fat Babe (@spookyfatbabe http://www.donutsanddissent.com) – “I spent a lot of my dating life being the secret girlfriend. In private, my boyfriends were loving, attentive, perfect. In public, they pretended I didn’t exist. They were ashamed to be seen in public with my fat body, my weird hair, my drawn-on eyebrows. They were ashamed of my bluntness, my vegetarianism…they were ashamed of me. Some of them even made fun of me with their friends behind my back. And that made me ashamed of me, too. I let them get away with it, I went along with it, just feeling lucky to be in their company. It was pathetic. I won’t be invisible anymore. I won’t let myself be pushed aside, because I know now that my body and I are glorious, and that I’m deserving of real love, not just the secret, shut away kind. If you’re too embarrassed of the way I look to want to be my friend or lover publicly, you don’t deserve even a second of my time. I wish I would’ve learned this sooner.”
Sarah – “From the Mother of the Golden Hearted Bully. The circle of life, the top of the pyramid, the leader of the pack, the pecking order or taking your place in society. However you spin it it doesn’t matter. Its life. There is said to be a natural order of things. In this story I’m hoping to find an end to this seemingly unbreakable cycle. At 3 years old my son was diagnosed as Autistic. High functioning low spectrum autistic. He wasn’t shy or withdrawn but the opposite. He was an entertainer to the classroom, a comedian and in every teachers words a pure joy with a great sense of humor. He laughed and smiled, his art work was always brilliantly colorful, his happiness was absolutely contagious. Through Kindergarten, first and into second grade this refreshing ball of energy bounded through every day sharing himself with the world. He had his moments like every young boy his age and then some and they were only made more intense by his inability to transition, understand empathy and absorb immediate direction. He needed processing time. Time for instructions to be thought through. He needed to be heard out to his very last thought before he could move forward. He had a hard time having the patience to return the favor. Sometimes that was hard for kids his age to understand. With the help of teachers kids were patient for the most part. They all loved my boy. As second grade moves on the spotlight shifts. By the Third grade kids were more irritated with him than amused. They started laughing at him instead of with him. His differences socially were starting to be clear. It was a pretty sudden shift for him to swallow. By the end of third grade he was bullied, beat-up and belittled. That spirit that had always been bright was slightly dimming. He would laugh at them as they mocked his speech, smile and held back tears as they picked apart the remaining confidence he had. He even forgave minutes after he was punched, pushed and kicked and talked away from telling an adult with the promise of friendship that never came. I told my son, my incredibly strong caring unbreakable son, to get out of the situation if at all possible. If it was not possible that it was okay to protect himself. Against many people I told my son to stand tall and be proud of who he was. Not to cower and let yourself be abused. After a few times of being called into the principals office the tables were starting to turn. He was always the common problem on the school yard. Id show them bruising, softball sized lumps on his shins and spine- “It’s just him being competitive on the playground playing soccer at recess”. My parents were never instructed to send me to school with protective armor to play at recess…by the time fourth grade started all kids had settled into their own groups. My son seemed to not fit into any of them. He was autistic. No one seemed to understand what that meant. Not the unit, not the kids….He was thrown down during recess and kicked by three boys.They proceeded to lift him, hold him and thrust their knee into his groin. It wasn’t until two days later that I was told about this. Not by the school but by my boy. We had to go to the ER which only humiliated him further. They had kicked him so hard he was severely swollen and couldn’t go to the bathroom. It was said by the school and the other kids involved that it was an accident and must have happened when they fell into a pig pile going for the ball. There were many situations that arose over the course of this year and all with a fitting excuse. Towards the end it even started to lean towards the guilt being placed on my sons shoulders…Keep in mind this is a school with the most renowned special needs program in the area. Yet the special needs student was being suspended while the “other” kid was not…no parents were even contacted to my knowledge. When I asked for email contact information I was told it wasn’t available. His love for school and entertaining his peers had turned into an almost hatred if not fear. After bruised kidneys and a broken heart I noticed something else change. That bright spirit was angry. His embarrassment turned to sadness turned to fear turned to solid anger. Once a victim now fed up. He had one friend in the world but he couldn’t be there all the time. I came to class unexpectedly and saw my sons desk removed from the entire class. he was alone- discarded. The summer between 4th and 5th grade was a busy one. When he returned that one life line of a friend had traded him in for the biggest enemy of all. After years of being the punching bag-he punched back…and quite literally. He was suspended on the spot. Now let me put it out there that no one else over the last 6 years has been sent home let alone been suspended after an altercation involving the many situations my son has endured. Not even after broken ribs. When he reported it I was told that there was no boy by that name that attended his school. Funny thing is I know otherwise. He was a neighbor from our previous home that had always bullied my son. He is in the same grade and has been in the same class. Nothing was ever done. Now he was publicly alone. That’s the worst kind. The kind where your all alone, in the loneliest place on earth in front of everyone. Sitting at your lunch table getting chips dumped on your head or your lunch smashed in your lunch box while people laugh. You have more than hunger pains in your stomach as well as deep sharp pains in your chest and heart accompanied by tears welling in your eyes. Please don’t let them fall. I showed up the next day alongside the lunchroom after catching wind of the treatment that was taking place. A smile spread ear to ear on my sons face when he saw me. He ran and grabbed my hands then proceeded to wrap his arms around me in the middle of the school cafeteria. He knew why I was there. He knows I will always be there. He was no longer afraid. Should a Mother have to come to school lunches and recess to protect her child…especially in a school with an amazing special needs program????? Now 5th Grade is in full swing and he has been painted as the instigator, the troublemaker, the bully. How long can you be a victim? When a child, especially a special needs child in a special needs school, is not listened to when they ask for help what else are they to do??We tell them to not take matters into their own hands, to tell an adult. To NOT accept bullying…but then when the same child does as they are told and reports the alleged bullying we then turn a deaf ear if its repetitive. Do we not consider the same people fall victim??? We are leaving that little voice to think its just that…a little voice. It’s a HUGE voice! One that should be heard loud and clear! We preach anti-bully but we aren’t taking the time to act on it. We as adults are giving those little voices the need to become the bully just to survive. We are, by ignoring, creating that bully we so proudly rant and rave about stopping. IT TAKES ACTION! So from the Mother of the Bully, Made by Bullies, with the golden heart- Do something before our made bullies continue the cycle instead of breaking it. Help this Mom help her son become not a victim- not a bully- not that weird kid- but himself minus the bruises. Learn and teach your own and yourself about peoples differences in perceptions, learning, empathy, emotion, hair color, skin color, bank accounts, speech impediments, eye sight, shoes…the list in limitless. We are all different we all FEAR different. Lets learn about our differences so we all can not just become someone better but become someone greater. Become the influence our children need because they find that in us. What is it we are teaching them ? USE OUR ACTIONS NOT OUR WORDS! -The Mom”
And finally me…
Jo, 32 – “I struggled to think of something to use for this feature as I had lots of examples to choose from. Did I include something from my childhood bullying? Or did I include an example of experiencing the trauma of domestic abuse? Should I use something from experiencing office bullying? Or how about I use an example of someone I consider a friend making snide comments about my weight? I decided to go with an example of something I experienced online as this happened recently (and in relation to this blog feature actually when I put a request out for participants). Someone referred to my blog features as ‘pseudo tosh’ which loosely translates as ‘load of rubbish’. This insulted me because the definition of pseudo can translate as ‘not genuine’ and ‘false’ as well as ‘fake’ and ‘insincere’. Was this person insinuating that my blog features (and all the brave and inspiring women in them) were not ‘genuine’? Whilst everyone is entitled to their opinion (whether it is valid or not) his choice of words had an impact. 100 women could tell me that what I do is inspiring and helps them. But his one comment and misjudged opinion was a slap in the face, it niggled me all day, it was like an annoying wasp, constantly buzzing around me, that stung me. Me and the girls in my blog features have a voice that deserves to be heard to help others and to put a stop to bullying in all forms by sharing our examples and experiences. Should we not do so for ‘fear’ of someone ripping us to shreds? If someone does not have anything nice to say, they should not say anything at all! I was brought up to respect people and his comment was rude, hurtful and uncalled for especially as he was a follower on my Facebook (until I blocked him as I will not allow any negativity in my little part sanctuary of positivity). This is a message to all cyber trolls and online bullies – why follow someone if you don’t like what they do? Why resort to being rude? Do you get a kick out of being nasty for the sake of it? Do you get a thrill from being a cyber troll? How many other people who you follow have you openly insulted and slated when you have no reason to? Are you that miserable in your own life you have to resort to online bullying? I feel truly sorry for you. Doing what I do online has brought me to meet some truly inspiring and motivating people. But it just goes to show that words of any kind when they are insulting and rude can have an impact. Should I doubt myself because of one person and their comment? Should the girls in my features remain silent over the things that they have experienced because someone feels it is their right to refer to it as ‘pseudo tosh’ when these girls have been so brave to share their experience? NO! We have remained silent for too long. We have crept on eggshells for fear of what people might do or say throughout our lives whether that be at school, at home, in a relationship or in a working environment. How pathetic that we have to ‘worry’ about being targeted online. We have prevented ourselves from living the life we choose because of other people and their opinions. Isn’t it funny how one person and their opinion can have the impact to make you doubt yourself and all you stand for? Isn’t it awful how one person and their opinion can knock your confidence and have an impact on your day? This is a reminder that your words can be hurtful, they can have such an impact on somebody, way more than you might imagine – if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Always be kind, always be positive, treat people with respect and compassion – you never know what someone is going through, you never know how ‘close to the edge’ someone might be…negativity breeds negativity. End the cycle now…”