There’s a new anti-bullying facebook status being reposted that I think is really great. It goes like this:
The Girl you just called fat? She has been starving herself & has lost over 30lbs. The Boy you called stupid, he has a learning disability & studies over 4hrs a night. The Girl you called ugly? She spends hours putting make-up on hoping people will like her. The Boy you just tripped? He is abused enough at home. There’s a lot more to people then you think. Put this as your status if you’re against bullying.
I think using facebook statuses is a really creative way of bringing awareness of different social issues that people usually don’t encounter in their normal routine. I especially love it when it comes from someone unexpected, or offers support to someone anonymously listening. However I want to add to the spirit of this message, that it’s not only negative words that work their way into a person’s psyche or become part of an accepted discourse. It’s ALL language – sometimes even things that are well-intentioned – that have power in shaping someone’s identity, self-esteem and self-concept. So I offer an alternative facebook status as just food for thought :).
The girl you just called SKINNY? She has been starving herself and lost over 30 lbs to fit a societal imperative that she be “beautiful” according to a prejudiced, unhealthy and unrealistic/unattainable ideal. The boy you called STUPID? He is an imaginative and enthusiastic painter, but is branded as inferior according to a single definition of success. The girl you called BEAUTIFUL? She lives in a society where it matters what other people think of her, and where she is expected to welcome comments on her body and taught to need external validation of her self-worth. The boy you just tripped? He is secretly afraid and starts to bully others to protect his own ego.
There’s a lot more to people than you think. Sometimes it’s not just the negative comments that get to us, but the positive ones that have only the best intentions. Commenting on others’ bodies is supposed to make them feel good. Kids who are bullied get more empathy than the bullies who are bullied. Language has power, plain and simple. But thinking about the things we say and do that are so deeply ingrained we don’t even question them? Now THERE’S a powerful message.
Cross-posted at Not Your Average Feminist.