Bullying.

21 08 2009

Simple title for a simple subject.

This post was inspired by this post and its subsequent comments.  I wanted to share my story and opinions.

Is it, though?  Bullying should be open-and-shut, something school/after school program/daycare officials should shut down when they see it happen, or are informed of it happening.  In my experience, however, it never was.  Not one principal, vice principal, teacher, or councelor ever did anything about it.

(Commence navel-gazing autobiography!)

I guess I’ve always been different.  Growing up, raised by a fiercely (to me) independent, intellectual and successful single mother who actually took the time to rear me, I saw the world in a different light than most of my peers.  This translated to me dressing differently, acting differently and getting along well with people older than me, as well as adults.  I guess I also was a little off, socially.  I didn’t (and still don’t) pick up social cues too well, but excel in other departments.  In second grade, I was reading long “chapter books” when other kids were bumbling through The Cat in the Hat.  So, I had that working against me, but it wasn’t something immediately detectable.

I was big.  Not really fat (I surely was not skinny, though), but big.  I was always off the height and weight charts for my age, and by quite a bit.  I was the first person in my year (and the year ahead of me) to hit five feet, I needed a bra at nine, and I had to start buying clothing at misses’ stores at seven (and then Lane Bryant at nine).  I also had hard to fit feet, so I wore penny loafers instead of childrens’ sneakers.

So, I was a sitting duck for the usual things children tease about.  From second grade to fourth, it wasn’t that bad, and I would consider it within the realm of typical playground bullying or teasing.  Nothing physical, just kids on my case.  It hurt, but I guess it all does.  I could still exist within the social construct of elementary school without being too miserable.

When I got a little older, though, things really kind of went downhill.  Puberty came quite early for me, ten or so, and with puberty came weight.  I gained 50 pounds when I was ten (almost eleven), definitely moving me into the “chubby/fat” category.  This is when it got hairy.  I started to become ostracized by my peers, which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world had I become invisible along with being shunned.  I didn’t, though.  I became sort of a scapegoat.  It didn’t help that I had recently moved from Ohio to Massachusetts.  I was an outsider in my classes, and as far as the other students were concerned, it didn’t matter if I was from Ohio or Iowa (one of the things they just couldn’t seem to get right.  I kind of laugh about that now).

In the interest of keeping this entry shorter than 10,000 pages, I’ll cut to the chase.  A number of things happened to me while growing up– 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grade were really minefields.  I had large rocks hurled at me and my face, I was assaulted, a lab stool was thrown at me, hitting my knee and injuring me, and groups of kids would surround me and heckle, pinch and prod me until I left school and walked home in the middle of the day, without my backpack.  The last one happened several times.

Now, why didn’t I go to the principal’s office, you ask?

Because they wouldn’t do anything.  If anything, I’d get in trouble for walking out of class.  The infuriating part of this, for me, is that no one would help me.  Even if my mother came in to see them, the school officials would brush it off as “kids being kids,” and send us on our way.  When I would act out as a result of the bullying (I stole some things a few times), I got detention.  Now, I don’t refute the fact that I did someting deserving of punishment, but not once did anyone ever try to figure out why I was doing what I did.  When I would repeatedly come to the principal about the bullying, nothing was ever done.

To this day, I still become angered to see kids getting bullied.  When something happens that it goes to court (like the link talks about), and people are STILL hiding behind the old “kids will be kids” addage, I wonder, “WHAT does it take?”  It is no different then “boys will be boys” to justify rape.  Why is “kids will be kids” still an acceptable dismissal?  Bullying is an incredibly damaging thing, and is far and away different from “teasing.”  I still am working through the effects of some of the stuff that happened to me.  There have been people bullied worse than me, and I have to wonder what their adult lives are like.  Why can we not take this seriously?  How many kids have to become irreparably damaged before this is considered a real problem?

I’m sure this case with the anorexic girl will end up losing, but I hope it won’t.  I don’t know if bullying GAVE her the disease, but I’m sure it helped her along summarily.  I hope the case is taken seriously.

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Uh-Oh! Bed Bath & Beyond knows women can’t control themselves!

28 10 2008

This morning, I went out front to grab the mail. The only thing in there was this week’s Bed Bath & Beyond circular. Seeing as I am still without employment, I took an idle and semi-uninterested glance at the cover. Immediately, I felt shock and disgust course through my system.

Let’s break it down. You’ve got three pictures of beautifully plated and prepared foods in chafing dishes and on a tiered dessert plate: turkey breast with sparingly drizzled gravy and whole cranberries, meatballs (or stuffing? It’s hard to tell), asparagus and carrots (one with a small amount of cheese and onions, the other with onions and…squash rind or something), and finally, mini cheesecakes, some kind of chocolate cream poof, and petits fours. These three panels each read “yumm,” each panel with one more “m” in the word than the last. The fourth panel is a pair of women’s feet on a digital scale, which reads “UH-OH.” The added text reads “…YIKES!”

Perhaps you can see where I’m going with this? First, of COURSE it will be a woman on the scale. On occasion I will see males used in weight-related jokes or schemes, but nine times out of ten, it’s a woman. Let’s rewind a second and look at most of the food. Lean turkey (breast). Carrots. Cranberries, Asparagus. This is healthy food. Yes, there is some cheese and gravy present, but the amount shown wouldn’t even reach the bottom of the chafing dish. Yes, I think we can all agree that there’s nothing reduced-calorie about the desserts, but they are also seemingly small in size. Even having one of each variety is not going to result in a catastrophic weight gain. And even if you do gain five pounds, is “YIKES” appropriate? Seriously? Your world is not going to crumble.

This circular’s cover reminds me of magazines like Woman’s Day: a picture of a beautiful cake on the front, with the headline, “LOSE 23 POUNDS WITH POWER WALKING!” Translation: make a cake for your family while you eat celery and work out every day. Or the Special K ad where a mother and child are icing a cake. The mother goes to lick some cake batter from her finger, and then a voice comes on: “you’re about to undo your whole day.” With a lick of cake batter, really? Oh yes, puffed rice flakes with tiny bricks of vegetable oil and chocolate flavoring is really on par with cake batter. That’ll DEFINITELY get rid of your craving.

It’s sickening how often women around food is correlated with some kind of lack of control. Women are bad drivers, women are too emotional, women can’t have a normal relationship with food. NATURALLY, if a woman is around a dessert plate, she will eat ALL of the items, resulting in a weight gain (shown on her shiny new digital scale) that will surely end her life. The reality is that a plate of the food shown on this circular would not greatly affect one’s weight. And then, at the notion it MIGHT cause one’s weight to increase, negative imagery is used. ‘Cuz, y’know, God forbid. You might get the Diabeetus.





Fat Princess

29 07 2008

I’m gonna get it for this.

I don’t have a problem with Fat Princess. I think it’s kind of charming, in a way. The game itself looks fun to me, and I am not offended by the concept of a princess being fed cake until it’s nigh impossible to move her. There are many, it seems, that are offended at this concept. I’m not entirely sure why, though. First, I have to say that video games are not as influential as people may think, especially not ones you can buy and download for five bucks that would have had virtually no hype if they had not been made controversial. The game itself looks like fun, and realistically, it will probably release, be mildly popular, and then fall away as most games do. Nothing about Fat Princess screams “INSTANT CLASSIC.”

Some of the things others are reading into the game are a little out in left field to me, as well. Maybe she’s not helpless when faced with cake. Maybe she ran away to the opposing kingdom’s castle and wants to stay there and eating copious amounts of cake is the idea they all came up with. Then, there’s the idea that there is some kind of fat joke underlying the whole game. I haven’t seen any articles elaborating on a plot in the game, so I can’t say if there even is one. I doubt there is, so really, all this about fat jokes and women and food and everything is speculation. Everything I have read about the game thus far shows it to be relatively simple, almost like Capture the Flag with a fat chick instead of a little pennant.

Besides, the game could awaken a whole new generation of fetishists. Sexual deviance makes the world interesting. That wouldn’t be so bad, right? Or, is that just as bad as those who laugh at fat people?

People don’t generally make video games to influence the masses. There are, of course, exceptions, but for the most part, creators just churn ’em out. The developers for this game may not even be aware of the message some are gleaning from this game. Maybe they thought it was harmless. It would be great to see an interview with them, though, and maybe that’ll happen in time.

Maybe there are just bigger fish to fry, I think.