"NO" to Bullying
Bullying happens everywhere, among family members, in schools, at workplaces, on the streets. What provokes a bully to treat their victim with such hate? A bully is perceived to come from a place of power, yet the crux of the matter is that it comes from that person's insecurities or in most cases from their troubled or traumatic background. Ultimately bullying happens when you do not fit in with their perceived criteria of “normal”.
Being on the receiving end of bullying while growing up, I was called names such as kali (dark skinned), fatso, moti (Punjabi word for fat), bulldozer, Yokozuna (the famous Chinese wrestler) - the list is endless. My teenage years is where it got worse; I developed breasts earlier than the girls in my class, an early bloomer you see. An incident, I recall, is during a P.E. lesson; the last part of the session is a game of football with a mixed team of boys and girls and, as always, I am the last one to be picked, since no one wants a loser on their side. The match begins and all my concentration is on blocking my opponent from moving forward with the ball. You see where I am going with this? I reach out with my foot to stop the ball but unfortunately it bounces over my foot. Gutted and still looking at how far the ball has rolled, the next thing I see is the boy chasing the ball on the ground. He tripped over my foot that I forgot to pull back. He got up and looked at me with anger, I began to profusely apologise for tripping him and the next thing he says stayed with me for many years to follow.
He looks at my chest and says “Your boobs are so big, that you can’t even see your feet!” and the abuse went on and on. By this time most of the boys have come round and they keep staring at my chest, sniggering. All I want in that moment is for the ground to open and swallow me whole.
As that teenage girl who was going through hormonal changes, still coming to terms with her body changes, trying to understand why this has happened and dealing with bullying, from that day onward I always dressed in oversized t-shirts to cover my curves, started dressing up as unflattering as I could, wearing layers and layers of clothing. Being big and having a voluptuous body did not help situations, I was fighting my own demons and the insecurities grew.
I resonate with the tale of "The Ugly Duckling" that in the end turns into a pretty swan; in my late teens the excess weight dropped off with the help of my paternal aunt (a modern-day Fairy Godmother) who was very health conscious. My eating habits changed from comfort eating to eating healthily and portion sizes reduced. Exercise was in the form of walking everywhere, taking the bus to college/university, once a week washing the car, during the summer it was mowing the lawn, weeding the garden – very grounding, physical chores were always at the forefront and delivering free papers in the estate too which was spread over 2 days (1.5 hours each day). I learnt how to embrace and love my feminine self; this gave me the confidence to accept ME. With time I was able to forgive all the bullies from my past, not only because they deserved forgiveness but for my own peace of mind.
Any form of bullying is a NO! NO! Say “NO!” to bullying.
by Kiran Kaur