I wrote a poem at the age of 16, sitting outside the cafeteria windows at my high school. It was a rough sketch of my elementary school experience, where I was disgustingly and mercilessly bullied. I had never been able to put the feelings I had about the experience into words, but I was able to now – and re-reading it after I had written it made the tears come to my eyes.
I put it away for years, but I brought it back out when I was putting together the poetry for my book. At the last, I decided to include it, because it still spoke of the rawness and horror that I felt while writing it that beautiful summer day just before I went into grade 10. I didn’t want to forget my experience, and the experience of so many other kids who go through bullying.
I watched a video yesterday of a news anchor who had been sent a fatphobic email. Her name is Jennifer Livingston, and she addressed this disgusting email with grace and aplomb. She said everything I wish I could have said to my bullies way back in those elementary school days – and she spoke out for people who are still going through that stuff. Kids who are dying because of it. Kids who feel like they have no hope.
It’s funny, because I’ve had several conversations, similar to Jennifer’s broadcast, with ignorant people. No, it’s not any of your business what my weight is. No, you don’t have to tell me I’m fat, I already know it. Most fat people do – we’re not stupid, and being fat is rarely the result of just eating “bad food” or not exercising enough. I also know that I have an upturned nose, or that there are other physical characteristics about me that may not be pretty or conventionally beautiful. It doesn’t mean I get your scorn. It doesn’t mean you get to make fun of me, or make me into a big joke or someone to torment. That says a lot more about you than it does about me.
When I nanny, I really try my best to show kids their best characteristics, and celebrate them for all of who they are. I don’t believe that anyone deserves torment of any kind. Now, with the advent of the Internet, there are people who seem to get their jollies on running people down. That’s . . . sad. I can think of so many other things to do to improve myself than running someone else down.
So, thank you, Jennifer Livingston, for being inspirational and a real figurehead for children and adults everywhere. As a woman, I thank you for standing up for women of all sizes on national TV. As a fellow caregiver, I salute you for setting the example for the children we both take care of.
You rock. And you’re gorgeous. I loved your video. Click on the photo below to view what Jennifer has to say.