Just a thought… Pink: Positive, Inclusive, Nurturing and Kind. [Noa Daniel @Noasbobs on Twitter]
This is Pink Shirt Day – an anti-bullying initiative that began in Canada and is now marked in 170 countries. I guess when you put red and white together, it really does come out pink in the wash. Or it does in mine.
What IS bullying? To put it in black and white terms, it’s someone who’s simply bigger: whether as a kid, someone bigger than you, tougher than you, in a bigger number than you…or as an adult, someone who has a bigger platform or just a louder voice, able to reach out and target you or people of your gender, colour, beliefs, clothes choices – whatever – using their size to make someone else feel smaller.
You could feel me duck when I shared news of having to let Rosie go here Monday because of what I’ve seen on the internet. Our Brooke said, “Uh-oh, here it comes” as she’s seen Facebook posts where people have begged someone to take their dog and the pile-ons that ensued. Maybe people who wanted to say something harsh to me about Rosie didn’t, because they knew that my social media are places that are generally supportive in a reciprocal way. So I know full well how lucky I am.
I also ducked, though, because in my life I’ve been wounded by the shots that have come my way. Being a seemingly strong woman in the public eye, people will criticize or judge you for your words, your appearance, your actions, without having a clue who you are or even caring to know that before they do.
But as a child, I was so often the new kid that I became a very easy target, whether for icy snow in my face from a girl who was much bigger than I, day after day…or the Yank (actually from “CanadER” thank you) in England who was called “cookie face” because I didn’t say “biscuits.” Stuff like that.
Is it like being beaten up for wearing a pink shirt, for being disabled, for having dark skin, for different beliefs or for being born gay? No. Not even a little. But it is about the imbalance of power.
And we CAN reclaim that power, eventually, if not in forgiveness, then at least perspective. I have looked back at the girl with what seemed like huge hands and endless anger, and wondered what she must have gone through at home before coming to school and seeing this new girl every day who needed her face washed out with snow. I figure kids in England saw someone different, and that made me fair game. Imagine if I’d had dark skin in that lily-white middle school.
Last year I got an email from a girl with whom I went to high school, apologizing for being mean to me. Honestly, I had let that go; knowing my name is on the wall at the school is probably that “revenge served cold” of which they speak. I didn’t know how to respond and haven’t yet.
The meanness shaped me, but fortunately not in ways it could have. I was always what people who didn’t understand my hurt called “overly sensitive” but it’s what makes me who I am. And it’s why today, and always, I will stand up for the victims.
On Pink Shirt Day we focus on teaching children a lesson that we adults need to remember. Because in 2021, the victims are also the elderly: people who are living out what could be their last days in loneliness and isolation, because others, who have their loud voices on social media, are choosing to ignore science and just live their lives as they want – to hell with the most vulnerable.
Stand up to bullies. You may not see it in the outside world, but it’s very real right here, where we are. You have a voice. And when you see anyone trying to make someone feel “less than,” remember that you could be next. Or think back: maybe you already were.
Take good care and I’ll have another vlog and journal for you on Monday.