A colleague who has been trying to lose weight was talking about her weight loss goals. She said “My goal is to just be normal”. It made me wonder why as a society so many people go out of their way to make their fellow humans feel “abnormal”. I recall several years ago prior to my weight loss. I was walking down the street I live on and the traffic was moving at a snail’s pace. A car with a couple of young men in it drove alongside me and moo’d at me for the excruciating 10 minutes it takes for me to get home. What they knew about me was that I was a very big girl. What they didn’t know about me is that I was walking home after a night shift on the paediatric intensive care ward. What they didn’t know was that I was a highly trained paediatric nurse with a very responsible and active job. They didn’t know that I had been on a diet in one form or another for 20 plus years. They didn’t know how much these acts of bullying had become a part of my routine. So, much so that I expected it and was no longer taken aback by cruelty. But, I suppose the perpetrators of “fat shaming” and general bullying don’t care about the scars they leave. Those that spend so much time criticizing what they do know about someone, such as appearance; forget about what they don’t know about you. Sometimes the things that make us special also make us “abnormal” in the eyes of those who are so superficial that they are unable to see the ways in which every single one of us positively contributes to the universe.
With this being anti-bullying week, I was struck at how downright vile people were being toward Gemma Collins. I have never watched an episode of TOWIE. But, what I know of her is she is lots of things other than a cast member of that show. She is an entrepreneur who has used an opportunity she has been given to make her life better. She is also a fellow human being who doesn’t deserve to be verbally assaulted because of her weight. You don’t have to like everyone, but is it necessary to publicly humiliate someone just for the sake of it? I work with children and do a lot of work around body image and self-esteem. I often think about the bullying I suffered as a child. It was awful, but I knew I had a safe place at home. No matter what happened outside I could find refuge when I got home. With the power of the internet there isn’t even a “safe” place anymore. Social media gives even the smallest person a great deal of power. I am not in the habit of quoting “Uncle Ben” but, it is true “With great power comes, great responsibility”. We need to use it wisely.