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Bully Apologizing Sucks

September 18, 2013

Weight LossFat HealthFat NewsDickweedDiet Talk

Last week, CNN ran a story about a little boy who wrote an early (very early) letter to Santa asking him to help is twin sister, who is bullied in school.

The letter was sweet and heartbreaking and it included a picture of the third grade girl next to her brother, who is half her size.

Ryan wrote to Santa, asking for help to stop the bullying his sister, Amber, is facing at school.

What I’d like to address today is the comments section of this story.

I knew when I scrolled down, they were going to be brutal. In my experience, sometimes when people who aren’t dealing personally with the problem at hand get handed the anonymity of the internet, they can be brutal. They are particularly brutal when there is no social barrier to a particular brutality. There is no social barrier against being mean to fat people. That’s why grown people feel like it’s okay to judge a mother based on 500 words on CNN and make comments about a child’s body as if they had some insight that they clearly don’t.

Here’s a basic truth: there is never a reason why it’s okay to bully another human being. Not ever.

Every single instance of bullying, from school yard bullying to CNN comments bullying, is a deficiency in the bullier. It is never the fault of the person being bullied.

Even if that person literally wears a sign around his or her neck that begs for bullying.

Guess what, though? Being fat is not a “Bully Me” sign. Saying “that girl’s mother should put her on a diet because if she lost weight the bullying would stop” is not only bully-apologetic, it’s short-sighted. It assumes that this little girl has to meet some kind of beauty standard to deserve the basic dignity of attending the third grade without crying every day. It assumes that the only reason anyone ever gets bullied is for being fat. It places all the blame for bullying on the bullied by claiming that it would stop if only they did something about the part of them that the bullies find unacceptable.

Bully apologizing sucks. Every time. No exceptions.

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. September 18, 2013 5:20 pm

    So what is the troll’s theory on why one fraternal twin is thin and the other is fat? Is the mom being responsible and healthy with the boy and irresponsible with the girl? Does the boy run around and play sports and be active, while the girl gets to play video games and lay around stuffing her face all day? It seems pretty common sense that both kids are provided similar lifestyles, but for some reason one is heavier than the other and it’s not the mother’s fault that genetic expression diverged for these two unique children.

    Peace,
    Shannon

    • mrbigmuscles permalink
      September 25, 2013 10:02 am

      > seems like pretty common sense that both kids are provided similar lifestyles

      “Amber, who has attention-deficit (hyperactivity) disorder and other mental and mood disorders, never mentioned the teasing.”

      > while the girl gets to play video games and lay around stuffing her face all day?

      “Suffern explains that Amber is an emotional eater and weighs 140 pounds, nearly twice the size of her brother, Ryan.”

      Sounds like her eating habits are exactly why she’s that size, per her own mother. Is her mom a troll too?

      • September 28, 2013 5:58 pm

        A lot of kids love to eat, or they eat from stress. But not all of them get fat from it. (The same goes for adults, of course.) The mother mentions multiple issues that differentiate Amber from her fraternal twin. So even if what, or how much she eats, is a factor, it’s not the sole factor.

        Even if one eats from stress, mrbigbrain, that doesn’t automatically translate to literally lying around and stuffing one’s face all day.

        Oh, and if she is eating from stress, maybe she’d feel less stress if she wasn’t dealing with shithead bullies all day at school.

        Congratulations. Your blather is one step up from that of one major-league asshole on the CNN page who helpfully opined that Amber “doesn’t even look human.” But not a very big step up.

        • mrbigmuscles permalink
          October 2, 2013 10:50 am

          Again, why do you say, “if she is eating from stress” as if that’s in question? The words came right out of her mom’s mouth.

          All I am responding to is atchka’s statement (which is not really relevant to the article or post) that the weight difference is clearly down to genetics, “it’s just common sense.” When right in the article, the mom says that 1) the daughter has mental and mood disorders, and 2) she’s an emotional eater. So no, it’s clear that they DON’T have comparable lifestyles.

          Oh and I never said the eating was the sole factor, or that she was literally lying around and stuffing her face all day, or that she “doesn’t even look human”. But, you probably scored some internet points with those comments, so congratulations.

          • October 2, 2013 11:07 am

            I said “if” because I don’t know if that’s the sole reason the girl eats what she does, the way she does. Or if it’s the sole factor influencing her size. It’s not a slam against either her or her mother. I think you know that, though. The fact that I even have to emphasize this point to you on a blog all about the dogged, misguided obsession of the culture at large claiming that “calories in-calories out” is the only proper criteria for influencing a human’s size tells me all I need to know about your sincerity.

            You don’t know if the overall lifestyles of the two children are comparable, because the boy’s eating habits were not discussed at all, unless I missed something. Which was exactly atchka’s point above, I presume.

            You can have the last word. I’m done with you.

            • mrbigmuscles permalink
              October 2, 2013 11:18 am

              You didn’t emphasize anything to me, because I never said eating was the sole cause of the girl’s size. That’s just something you projected onto what I wrote. You just replied to me with what seemed like a scripted response, complete with a sideways accusation that I’m comparable to someone who dehumanized a bullying victim with psych issues – very classy.

              Neither did anybody say anything about “slamming” the girl or her mother. Again, you are just making things up. Oh, and nice dig about sincerity by the way. Thanks for being such a rewarding interlocutor.

      • October 2, 2013 11:16 am

        You’re still dealing with two kids who are offered the same lifestyle. What I was saying was that it’s not like the mother is feeding on kid salads and lean meats and the other McDonald’s and ice cream. It’s the assumption that the mother must be doing something to make one child fat and the other thin that bothers me, not the idea that fraternal twins raised under the same roof can have different circumstances that affect their behavior.

        More questions I would ask the mother: is the daughter medicated for ADHD while the son is not? The point is that people act like fat kids are a result of bad parents who overfeed their kids, and this is clearly not the case, otherwise both kids would be fat. There’s more going on here, and in most situations where a child has a very high weight.

        Peace,
        Shannon

        • mrbigmuscles permalink
          October 2, 2013 11:47 am

          “What I was saying was that it’s not like the mother is feeding on kid salads and lean meats and the other McDonald’s and ice cream.”

          OK, fair point. But being offered the same lifestyle isn’t the same as actually living the same lifestyle.

          For instance: mom (BTW where is dad in this story?) could be offering oversize portions to both kids, and the boy doesn’t eat the whole thing, and the girl does (as the girl is an emotional eater per mom). That would explain some of it. And, the girl might not get as much exercise as the boy – maybe she doesn’t participate in school sports or whatever, thanks to her mental and mood disorders. And there are drug side effects; eating habits at school – which is out of mom’s control.

          So, of course genetics play a role, but it is not so crazy to think that these kids actually live different lifestyles. Oh and to those reading this (not you atchka), it is possible to think this way without being a fatty-hating demon and without thinking that Mom in this story is a bad mom.

  2. September 18, 2013 5:40 pm

    “God is busy and needs your help.” Oof. Right in the feels.

  3. vesta44 permalink
    September 18, 2013 5:43 pm

    This – “Here’s a basic truth: there is never a reason why it’s okay to bully another human being. Not ever.” I don’t know why people have to be such asshats. And kids that bully have learned it from their parents or other family members. It’s not something that happens in a vacuum. It’s a learned behavior, and those who do it need to stop now!

  4. lifeonfats permalink
    September 18, 2013 6:54 pm

    News flash to trolls but it’s not only fat people that get bullied. I wonder how they would explain the recent number of suicides of young, thin girls attributed to bullying. Bullies will pick on anyone they can that they feel are vulnerable and weight doesn’t even have to be a factor. And instead of making the victims stop the behavior and blaming and shaming them into changing what’s making them be bullied, we need to make the bullies stop the behavior. People are always going to look different from each other and you either learn to accept it or go dig a hole in the ground and stay there.

  5. September 18, 2013 7:32 pm

    Bullying is just abuse from school-age children, and abuse kills people. I wish there were legitimate real world consequences for bullying. Then maybe it would fucking stop.

    • September 18, 2013 11:14 pm

      There needs to be laws put in place to protect people. Kids are pushing other kids to suicide and there are no consequences. There has to be laws made and consequences in place. Sadly, as the “war on obesity” rises the more people are brainwashed into believing that it’s ok to treat fat people any way they want. Thanks to so many anti-fat people campaigns and the way the media has been portraying fat people as subhuman for the past few decades, it’s any wonder that violence and bullying against fat people is on the rise. There is real backlash for the “war on obesity” and we are really starting to see it.

      • September 21, 2013 1:32 pm

        No, the backlash would in fact be more people of all sizes standing up to bullies and telling the diet industry (and its enablers in the U.S. Government) to call off its dogs. Heartbreaking stories like that of these two kids are more like logical outgrowth of the “war on obesity,” not any kind of “backlash” at all.

  6. September 18, 2013 11:39 pm

    the weirdest part of this is that the mother mentions in the article that her daughter is *ALSO BULLIED FOR HER RACE*. the bullies in the comments completely ignored that in their frenzy to call a child fat and blame her mother for her bullying.

    • vesta44 permalink
      September 19, 2013 11:39 am

      And that’s the main problem – people who say “If you change this about yourself, the bullies will go away and leave you alone.” No, no they won’t. Bullies don’t give a rat’s ass why they’re bullying you, all they care about is that you’re vulnerable and they can hurt you with their bullying. Change whatever reason they’re giving for bullying you, and they’ll come up with another reason to bully you. Change that, and they’ll find another reason to bully you, ad nauseum. It’s not the bullied person who needs to change, it’s the bullies who need to learn some empathy and compassion (and good luck with that, I haven’t seen it happen very often, and I’ve been around for almost 60 years).

      • Elizabeth permalink
        September 20, 2013 1:04 pm

        It’s almost like they smell someone’s vulnerability. And what bothers me is that so many adults in schools seem unwilling or unable to stop bullying they either observe or are told about. I think a lot of people are scared of bullies and are just grateful that they are not the targets.

      • Jackie permalink
        September 22, 2013 3:48 am

        There’s an excellent episode of Sesame Street that illustrates this. Big Bird wants to be in the Good Birds Club, and they show how the lead bird of the club kept making up reasons Big Bird couldn’t join, while their followers (bully bystanders) disagreed with the leader, but didn’t stand up to thgem either.

  7. Kitty permalink
    September 19, 2013 4:36 am

    I read a magazine story once where a mum and her daughter had both lost a lot of weight by dieting. The mother had initiated it after the daughter was bullied at school. So her message to her daughter was- if you’re being bullied, it’s up to you to change so that they don’t want to bully you any more. So sad.

    • September 21, 2013 1:38 pm

      I’ve got an old Look or Life article from the late 1940s (coincidentally, this is the time when Bacon’s Health At Every Size says that modern U.S. diet industry was just beginning in earnest) that’s almost exactly like what you describe. The whole message is that its the duty of the fat young woman in the photos to be “decent” (ie- slender). Little or nothing about the duty of her rude classmates and acquaintances to be “decent” by appreciating her as-is.

      I’ve got another one from a mid-Fifties issue of Everywoman’s (later absorbed into Family Circle in which an ex-fat woman tongue lashes her fat sistren with snide remarks along the lines of, Yes, go ahead and eat that chocolate while you lose yourself in another love story, as you’re unlikely to ever have a love story of your own. [rolleyes] Nice to know that some things never change…

  8. September 19, 2013 7:53 pm

    Reblogged this on Sly Fawkes and commented:
    I grew up with a lot of victim blaming and bully apologism. I actually only weighed 110 pounds when I was being called “fat,” and it led to my having a lifelong eating disorder. I’ve always had big hips and thighs compared to the rest of my body. I was also bullied for being awkward and shy and having to wear that horrific Martian headgear to try and correct my gappy, buck teeth.
    There was a point in my life where I had such severe strep throat that I ended up being home from school for three weeks, unable to utter a sound. I learned to talk with my hands. Thereafter, until I got into Junior high, I used big gestures when I was talking.
    When the bullying was at it’s height, my father told me that maybe if I didn’t have such strange mannerisms (referring to my big hand gestures) people wouldn’t pick on me so much.
    Thereafter, I became very wooden. To this day I tend to hold my hands close to my body and not gesture very much at all.
    Both bullying and victim blaming can scar people for life.

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