Be Careful Who You Bully

Let's stop bullying altogether

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Be careful who you bully. Me in 2009 and present day.
Be careful who you bully. Me in 2009 and present day.

Be Careful Who You Bully

Pictures have been going around the internet for the “Be Careful Who You Bully Challenge.” The posts contain before and after photos usually showing awkward teenage girls who grew up to become beautiful women.

Be Careful Who You Bully has come with mixed reviews and criticism. Many netizens have also jumped onto the bandwagon and posted before and after photos to farm likes although they have never been bullied themselves.

I’ve been aware of the challenge for a few weeks but was initially reluctant to post one of my own. However, I looked into it a little further and I’ve decided to share my piece on the topic.

According to stopbullying.gov, “Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.”

There are three types of bullying:

  • Verbal bullying which includes teasing, name-calling, inappropriate sexual comments, taunting and threatening.
  • Social bullying, or hurting someone else’s reputation, which includes leaving someone out on purpose, spreading rumors and embarrassing someone in public.
  • Physical bullying, or hurting a person’s body or possessions, which includes hitting, spitting, pushing, taking or breaking someone’s things and making rude hand gestures.

While I’m lucky to never have been physically attacked, I’ve experienced cases of both verbal and social bullying back when I was in school. People have talked smack about me both to my face and behind my back. While I’ve forgotten most of the painful words a few still stay with me like ugly scars… I mean how could I really forget that time a classmate said I was so fat and ugly that I looked like Shrek?

Being bullied and called names caused a lot of damage to how I perceived myself for a really long time. My teenage years were marked with a lot of insecurity and emotional instability. Being called fat and ugly made me obsess over my weight and dieting. It made me spiral into an unhealthy relationship with food and my body — damaging my metabolism, hindering my strength gains and (surprise!) keeping me fat.

It has only been recently that I’ve been able to start undoing years worth of damage to my system, both mentally and physically. Simply put, I’ve been able to save myself from the negative implications of bullying by loving my Shape — appreciating my body and committing to take care of it as best as I can. This is what my life’s work, at Shape Philippines, is all about now. We hope to inspire young girls to live their best lives by eating well, getting fit and having a proper, healthy mindset.

Today, we celebrate National Heroes Day in the Philippines. I just wanted to remind everyone that you can be a hero too. If you’ve ever been bullied, rise above it. Be the hero — the better person. Don’t fall into the same destructive cycle and wish hate towards those who have hurt you. Most importantly, don’t let their words or actions get in the way of loving, accepting and being yourself or you will never reach your full potential.

Don’t just be careful who you bully. Stop bullying altogether.

For everyone else, don’t just be careful who you bully. Stop bullying altogether. Be mindful of what you say to other people because it could make the difference between whether she grows up to love her body or not. Your “harmless comment” could decide if she will eat full meals today or starve herself. Your “meaningless joke” could distort the image she sees in the mirror for the rest of her life. What you think is just harmless teasing could leave a deep emotional scar on her for good. And for what? It won’t make you feel better about yourself.

On the contrary, a few simple words of encouragement could be the little boost in motivation that someone needs to continue a challenging fitness regimen.

Body shame and body love both start developing at an early age. The ball is in your court. Have your words and actions encouraged others to love or hate their shape?

Let me know what you think!

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alexdayrit

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