Appearance and Bullying.
Being bullied for your appearance is the number one reason given by students for why the might bully another person. Of course, as adults we already know that this is just not right. Not everyone has the means or ability to change their appearance.
My Own Personal Experience
I was bullied because I was short. I was only 5’4” in high school. I constantly heard all kinds of names and comments about my size. I kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting to grow taller. But it never happened. Even today more than 50 years later I still have trouble accepting that I am as tall as I will ever get. But, I have learned to deal with it. Short people are just smarter. Yeah, that’s it. We are just smarter. It’s my lie and I will tell it any way I want to.
Seriously though, having to accept that you might be different than the average person, whatever that is, can come as quite a shock to a lot of us. You might be taller, or heavier, or have some type of disability like I did. I was born with Tourettes, OCD, and ADHD. The point is, anything that makes you look different than other people can be a reason for why you get bullied. Does it make it right? Absolutely not! But it does happen. As I said above, there are many reason why kids are bullied about their appearance. It could be about their height, weight, race, skin issues, or disfigurement.
The YMCA researches did a study of the effects of this type of bullying. They discovered that 55% of young people get bullied for their looks. Of those they found that it causes the following:
• 60% tried to change their appearance in some manner.
• 53% became anxious
• 29% became depressed
• 24% started eating less
As you can see. It has a significant effect on most of the kids. 3 of the 4 could end up causing more trouble for our children. Depending upon how it was handled the last one could be a good thing or a bad thing.
Girls Bully Differently
Another surprising thing. When girls bully about someone’s appearance it is far less noticeable because it is mainly psychological. It is done primarily with the use of social, verbal, or online tactics. This can also lead to the victim developing body dysmorphic disorder. Girls are also judged on unrealistic ideals of what they are supposed to look like. This can also lead to a damaged self-esteem.
When boys bully the number one way is physical. A fight in the school hallway gets noticed very quickly, and hopefully stopped quickly by a school employee before anyone gets hurt. Some boys actually like the feeling of being judged as a good fighter. That definitely was never an issue for me. I hate to fight. I have been forced to. But I still do not like it.
How Old Were You When It Started?
54% of children state that the appearance bullying started before they were even ten.
Policies Against Bullying
Social media is a major source of bullying. Most social sites state they they have policies against bullying. But the kids still find ways to do it. I have read that Instagram is one of the biggest sources of bullying because the photos that are posted are not necessarily a true picture of what is going on. A large percentage of the photos are photo-shopped to make things appear to be far more interesting than they really are. Selfies are a creation of social media. A selfie can also be easily photo shopped online to enhance the overall presentation.
Teens have the tendency to compare their lives against what they think other teens lives are like based upon what they see in the photos which can be completely unrealistic. Again, this can be a major source of frustration for teens which can lead to harm of their self-esteem.
Size is No Defense
In my book about bully-proofing I tell a story about a young man that shot himself in the boys bathroom in junior high. He was 6’6’ and weighed 275. He was not a natural athlete and his vision was not the best. So he got bullied constantly for all of it. One day after lunch he had had all he could take and shot himself in the boys room with his dad’s gun that he had brought to school that day.
I can’t even describe how tragic I think this was. NO child should ever have to endure being pushed so badly that they think suicide is the only way out.