Imagine a fat little girl who could barely walk. Running was out of the question because she was so fat her legs had blisters from the chafing. Needless to say, she was always picked last for sports or any childhood games, if she was picked at all. During P.E., her classmates would really single her out and tell teachers she should just sit down because she will make the team lose in the games.
During recess or lunch, she had to contend with bigger, skinnier and faster kids taking her lunch or water jug every day, knowing she couldn’t chase them. No matter how much she tried to get them to stop, they wouldn’t because it was a funny sight seeing the fat little kid waddling in their wake. Imagine this little girl crying when the school year comes along because she knew what was in store for her.
Imagine this little girl, growing up with a pediatrician who loudly called his secretary to “Bring out the Suka because Crispy Pata has arrived” every time she entered the waiting area full of parents and children, which he persisted in doing until she was a tween.
I don’t have to imagine because that little girl, was me.
I grew up with bullying and being ridiculed most of my conscious life in school. I was fat. Kids can be brutally frank and it was unfortunate that I had to go through it until I was almost in high school. As a result, I learned how to blend into the background in elementary. I was barely noticed by teachers, or classmates alike. They know me as the nice girl because I never fought back. To this day, I am still struggling with bad body image issues (when I look in the mirror, I still feel very fat) and moments of intense insecurity. It’s fading with time but it’ll always be there, I don’t think it’ll ever go away.
Luckily, I had parents who really showed me they loved me at home which balanced out the ridicule I was experiencing outside. I expect I would be a lot more messed up now if I weren’t so loved at home.
Bullying takes on many forms, be it verbal or physical. Being born a girl, I was subject to the emotional and psychological form of abuse which is much more difficult to prove or identify. However, it isn’t any less scarring than the physical kind.
Emotional bullying can be disguised as a form of comedy and the victim can be accused of lacking a sense of humor. Children don’t understand that form of humor like adults can. Children take the statement at face value and it wears on their self-confidence. They can pretend to laugh it off… but the hurt is stored inside.
As a result of my own experience, I’ve been very conscious of bullying that my kids may experience in school. I try to ask them about their school experiences constantly and ask them about her classmates and friends in school. My daughter was bullied a couple of times but I’ve been lucky enough to be in a preschool that tries their best to nip bullying in the bud. The parents of the other kids were also very adamant in stopping their children’s behavior, which I was very grateful for.
Now my daughter is in a big school and I was worried about bullying there knowing that it’s more difficult to control a huge number of kids. However, I was very surprised and happy that when she experienced name calling, the school immediately organized a session for the batch to discuss how name calling hurts people in an effort to stop the act without naming any names.
I know that I will not be able to protect them indefinitely. I hope to be able to protect them though, until they are confident enough not to get affected by the bullying and mature enough to do something to protect themselves.