I was a bit of a tomboy as a kid, and began seventh grade with a hairstyle that might politely be called a pixie.
It might also be called a buzz cut.
The middle school sharks circled the first week of school, and before I knew it, kids were teasing me for looking like a boy.
As you might imagine, that novelty wore off in a hurry.
If you've met me in person in the last 20 years, you're probably snickering right now. I've grown long hair and comically big boobs (the latter, ironically, also became a source of teasing). The risk I'll be mistaken for a boy these days is about the same as the risk I'll be mistaken for a screaming hairy armadillo.
Yet there are mornings I get dressed and think, "I shouldn't wear that top, it'll make me look like a boy."
And then I go outside and slam my head in the car door until I stop being an idiot.
Jokes aside, it's staggering to me how long childhood taunting and bullying sticks with you. That's one reason I agreed to be part of writer Candace Ganger's End. It. Now. project.
You can read about her experiences with bullying, and learn how you can help here.
You can also check out this awesome video she made with some assistance from other writer pals:
My gentleman friend helped film my segments last weekend (a daunting task when I misread my required line, "end the loneliness" as "feed the lioness" and couldn't keep a straight face after that).
I was curious what his offspring knew of bullying, so I asked both of them if they'd learned anything about it in school.
They assured me they had.
"If it happens once, it's just someone being mean," explained the 10-year-old. "If it happens again, it's bullying."
They told me more about how to identify if I'm being bullied and what I should do if I encounter a bully. In the end, I felt pretty well-equipped to deal with any bullies that might come my way.
Then their dad gave me a light smack on the butt while we made dinner. I turned to the kids with a practiced look of indignation.
"Did you see that?" I demanded. "He's bullying me!"
The 10-year-old shook his head. "Not unless he spanked you yesterday, too."
Right. Er, now might be a good time to end this conversation.
Seriously though, be sure to check out The Misadventures in Candyland to learn more about how you can stop actual bullying through the End. It. Now. project. She offers oodles of ways you can help, including Signing the petition, Downloading conversation cards about bullying, Downloading information on how to talk about bullying, Sharing the video, and much more.
Have you ever been bullied? How has it impacted you as an adult? Please share.
I'm going to go see if my gentleman friend is up for a bit of bullying.