Today I’m going to write about bullying. Bullying has many forms and it has affected me throughout my lifetime. I’ll start with being fat. It seems that fat hatred is the last form of regulated hatred. Fat hatred ranges from the comedic to the ethical. It’s pretty crazy when you think about it a fat person can be a punch line or the subject of Michelle Obama’s crusade. (For fuck’s sake the US has bigger problems than fat kids.) Being on the Internet I have experienced my share of fat hatred, some comical and some really mean. Last year a site took one of my photos, posted it and picked it apart. The member’s comments were even worse… My stretch marks, my lopsided boobs, my pubic hair, they berated every inch of me. This unpleasant experience taught me a valuable lesson. I learned that I could not control everything. From that day forward I did not try to control who took my photos for whatever purpose. I have had porn sites post my photos and quite frankly as long as those sites post links back to my blog I don’t care. It’s up to the viewer to read Claim Your Beauty and decide if it speaks to him or her. I’m fat if you don’t like my blog move along.
So it sounds like I have that resolved… well, not really. Yesterday, I posted a photo on my Tumblr blog and the caption read, “I’m not a size 4 deal with it…” Someone re-blogged my photo and wrote their caption. It read, “I have diabetes deal with it…” Because I have been made fun of so much online fat jokes usually don’t bother me but yesterday I was hurt and I had to evaluate why. This person is taking my photo and making fun of me in a public venue. He is bullying me. So I think to myself. “This person is an idiot, a bigot” Saying that a fat person has diabetes is a form of discrimination. Fat stereotyping is created in the malicious spirit of bigotry. Being fat is not a moral failing… being a bigot is… Problem resolved… then why does it still hurt so much? It hurts because he is bullying me.
I have dealt with my fat issues but the scars of bullying run deep. I will start by saying I don’t have very many close friends. When I say friends these are the people that I will do anything for. And they love me in return. I know this because they understand me. They lead me when I need direction and they hold me strong when I am hurting. I tell my loved ones about my injuries in bits and pieces. It’s not easy for them. They have to pay attention and they must wait to hear the whole story. The story reveals itself in sentence fragments between the small talk and silences.
This is a symptom of a past harm. Years ago I wore a victim’s wound, a partial handprint over my mouth. The bruise has faded but I still wear that handprint today. When the time comes to ask for help words fail me, they always have. As a child I sat next to my Mother and I could not tell her that someone had harmed me. So I would put my head in her lap and she would run her fingers through my hair until I drifted into the safety of sleep. This is how I run my life. I say very little, my friends comfort me and for a while the pain is dormant.
The problem with avoidance is that things resurface if they are not dealt with. I am no longer a child but I find myself in situations that resemble bullying. Work has always been a nightmare for me. I’m an easy target. I shy away from professional criticism and I can never say no. On a more personal level. There is always some form of coercion in my romantic relationships. This ‘no means yes’ phenomenon only exists in the movies. You say no over and over again and eventually acquiesce but your heart hurts. This is not consent this is coercion. Recently I had to report an assault and in the process I felt bullied. I had to repeat myself while answering unsavory questions until I was a crying child. To be honest the whole thing seemed so sinister. At the end of my statement the detective said to me, “I believe you” and I responded, “Of course you believe me because I’m telling the truth.” They ‘coerced’ me into telling the truth. Their course of questioning is to obtain compliance. Wanting to know if a person is telling a lie is not the same as wanting to know if a person is telling the truth. The entire process left me with an empty feeling.
So how do these things relate to being fat? Sometimes when a person calls me fat it’s so much more than being fat. Today the humiliation brought me back to a place where I was not safe. As an adult I have to learn how to cope with these feelings. This is why I write, why I take photos. I reclaim power and I create safety for myself and hopefully for others.
Navigating my life as a child has been treacherous at times but I need to say that it has also provided me with tremendous gifts. I laugh like a child, I give freely like a child and most importantly I love like a child. In the grand scheme of things it’s not that bad. When I am overwhelmed I remember one of my Dad’s pep talks. I was six. It was summertime. It was the 70s, lots of kids in the park with no supervision. I came home crying. I stood on the lawn trying to tell my dad what happened in between sobs. He bent over and while he was wiping my face he said in earnest. “Lisa, you’re alright. You’re a brave little girl. You’re MY little girl.” He turned me around. “No go back and play.” And I ran back as fast as I could…
Thanks for reading today,