. . . shut the fuck up.
Ok. So y’all know I’m all about speaking your mind but, as with so many things in life, there is a line.
Things have changed a lot in recent years. In days of yore, if you wanted to say something bad about someone, you had to do it verbally or in writing. “Thy face causes offense to mine eye” still hurt, but had a much smaller audience.
Nowadays, judgement and bullying have become a part of popular culture. The internet allows for anonymity, and anyone can post anything about anyone for anyone else to read. Any. Perez Hilton can write (or draw) anything with this little white cyber-pen about anyone he wants. While I understand he’s gotten better (fewer dripping orifices nowadays), he currently has “Madonna’s Worst Looks Through The Years” as one of his top stories. This works because there is an audience for it. Same goes for E!’s Fashion Police. Joan Rivers has taken her red carpet acid tongue to a more removed setting, and she and her cronies sit and tear apart all of Hollywood’s fashion choices, crowning a “Fash-ho of the Week”. On the red carpet, I can virtually guarantee that everyone who steps out of a limo got dressed thinking, “I look AMAZING in this (dress, tux, swan . . . )”. I don’t care how famous you are, those words hurt.
*NB I’ve deliberately not externally linked to Perez or Fashion Police. If you want to read these things, it’s your business, but I don’t want to associate this blog with that kind of poison.
Our generation has grown up with this kind of mentality surrounding us, and it has become a societal “norm”. We, as a culture, feel like we have license to say exactly what we’re thinking on any topic without thinking about the consequences.
Today’s rantings are inspired by two such situations of bullying, both directed at one of my dearest friends. (He’s one of those rare “soldiers” who fights alongside me (on my behalf), and I’m forever grateful to have him in my life.) A couple of years ago, Daniel was on a blind date. He had always struggled with his weight, but he is very handsome, dresses with style, and always looks great. His date showed up at the restaurant, and without so much as a “hello” said, “Nope. Too fat,” and walked away.
A statement like that would crush a lot of people. I have heard time and time again about people who have had similar experiences that have led to eating disorders, depression, and even suicide. Daniel, however, chose to use the experience to turn his life around. He focused on getting healthy, not on getting thin, and is now in incredible shape and is a personal trainer himself (and many other things – this boy is GOING places!).
Yesterday, he received a message on one of his online profiles:
“You aren’t athletic, you’re fat. And what’s with the toque? We all know you’re bald.”
I would like to start off by saying that I have hugged those muscles many a time, and there’s nothing fat about them. And yes, Daniel shaves his head, so he is bald. He also enjoys a toque (Canadian word for winter hat), as it is WINTER here and that gets cold on a shaved head.
When did this kind of attack become okay? It shocks me that anyone feels that they have the right to say something like that to another human being.
This made me think, however. How often do we sit with friends and gossip about those around us? We judge the hair, clothes, etc. of people around us: strangers on the street, acquaintances, and even family and friends. If you are exempt from this generalization, my apologies and congratulations. You are a better person than I am. Do you ever stop to think, though, “If my friend talks to me like this about her friends, how does she talk about me when I’m not there?” Is it any wonder so many of us have trust issues?
Once again, I’m issuing a challenge: Let’s stop ourselves before we judge, gossip about, or bully another person. Just don’t say it. If someone else is talking unkindly, let’s not engage. Then, let’s work on our thoughts. It’s not enough just to stop the verbal attacks. Thoughts have energy, and are you really going to invite all that negativity into your brain over an ugly pair of shoes?
And maybe, just maybe, once we’re thinking more kindly about others, we can start to turn that kindness on ourselves.