When I was in school I was never picked for sports teams. Actually, I was *never* picked for sports teams. I was little. I couldn’t run. My knees stayed together. I couldn’t even ride a bike until I was 9. And face it, kids were cruel. They still are. The teasing – now called bullying – did a number on my self esteem, and being from a non-athletic household, those emotions were usually fed with a cookie. The food fixed everything – or not – even when I didn’t have a weight problem. Bullying happened. It happens to most of us in one form or another.
Bullying still happens. Some might sugar coat the term and call it discrimination. Same thing. “I’m not going to choose you because you’re <blank>. (You can fill in the blank….white, black, tall, short, old, young, skinny, fat.) I’m not an expert in discrimination from an academic point of view. I don’t have a degree in it. I don’t teach it. But I’ve lived it. I think most of us have. And if I’m honest with myself, I’ve been on both sides of the table. I’m not necessarily proud of that, but judging anyone would qualify.
For the purposes of this blog, I’ll talk about the weight discrimination. I hear about kids being told they’re fat. It’s not okay. I hear people discuss overweight people and making assumptions about their lifestyle. It’s not okay. You might not get hired because you were being compared to a person without a weight problem and all things being equal, the employer decides on what they think is the healthier person. It’s not okay. Today on my walk there were these guys in a truck passing by pointing and laughing at an overweight person running nearby me. Me? I was envious and inspired by her. Them? They were puny-headed idiots who have to put others down to make themselves seem bigger. That’s all a bully is. A puny-headed idiot who’s trying to give themselves importance by minimizing others. Or are they? They are also bullied. They also feel small. Their reaction is inappropriate, but I don’t believe all who bully, discriminate, judge, and so forth are puny-headed idiots.
It’s so hard to ignore them. It’s so hard to not let it get to us. But they feed our insecurities giving them a louder voice in our head. As parents we try very hard to protect our kids from those attacks, but they even feed our own insecurities. And really, most of the time a mother thinks we’re awesome. We know they aren’t objective. So we believe the negative. And unless we’re made of stone and pure confidence, we become either the bully or the victim of the bully.
How can we break this cycle? How can we give them no power? Many schools now have a zero tolerance for bullying. But what does that do except give attention to the kid screaming to feel important?
I see people bigger than me do things (marathons, weights, the dreaded burpees) that require strength. They challenge themselves and conquer tasks – inspiring me every single day. I see success stories from those who run with cancer, or compete in the paraolympics, or compete in crossfit games, or try a triathlon. I see people challenge themselves continuously and it’s amazing.
I remember when I was training for my half marathon, I had just finished the long run of the week. I got a call from someone I know very well. He asked why I was out of breath. I said I just finished my long run. “I remember you weren’t a good runner.” My response? I’m still not a good runner. But I’m running. I do it even though I’m not very good at it. I was bullied.
Those people were all bullied.
I can tell you that you’re beautiful all day long – and you are. We all are. I can tell you that what you truly want is not in the fridge or the pantry – and it really isn’t. I can tell you that the cookie will make it all better – but it won’t. (Neither will broccoli, but whatever!) What would happen if we all did 10 push ups each time we emotionally ate something?
Yes, there is discrimination everywhere in our society. We’ve grown, but not enough. We’ll get there. But until then know something….
You may be overweight. You may be skinny. You may be gay. You may be straight. You may be black. You may be white. You may be rich. You may be poor. We may not get all the same opportunities, but we are given free will. We are given a choice to believe the negative or believe the positive. Surround yourself with positive and believe it. Fake it til you make it if you have to. It’s more fun faking the positive than the negative!
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Don’t consent.