Yes, They’re Real and They’re Spectactular

As my many loyal readers know, there are quite a few things that really annoy me. The list is possibly endless actually. Not the least of which are idiot drivers, as I’ve said many times. Many, many times.  Hey, I’ve never once claimed that I had any sort of patience whatsoever.

But another thing that annoys me is when people who should stick together…don’t. Instead, they pick on each other, for no other reason, I think, than that putting down others makes them feel better about themselves. I’ve always suspected that people like this are in fact hiding inferiority complexes.

In this specific case, I’m talking about women. Women who pick on other women because of their appearance.  As if women don’t have enough of that from other areas in their lives…like the media, the fashion world, their jobs, pretty much everywhere you look.

And I’m not talking teenage girl stuff here like you’d see in middle school or high school which is bad enough. These were full-fledged adults who should know better.  It just really grated on my nerves. In my view, women need to stand together now more than ever. Or really, always.

So, what’s lit this fire of indignation?

Yesterday, there was a sponsored ad on my Facebook newsfeed for a lingerie/bra shoppe.  The ad was a for a summer sports/racer style bra that wouldn’t show under any type of a blouse or shirt. The bra itself is irrelevant. What pissed me off were the comments.

Turns out that the bra was out of stock for some of the larger sizes. What does that mean? Well, that women with large breasts really liked this bra and ordered it, and the shoppe hadn’t made enough for women in those sizes so some sizes were necessarily on backorder.

Not a big deal, right? Women who needed an out of stock bra size could sign up to be notified by email when it was available again so they could then place their order.  Easy peasy.

But there was this one woman who didn’t understand the concept that the item “was out of stock” and was instead annoyed that the shoppe apparently catered only to “smaller” women. She actually posted that the store should “carry sizes big enough for women with REAL breasts and not mosquito bites.” Yeah, I know, funny, right?  Ha ha.

There were other women on the thread who were pissed off (rightfully so) at this vulgar and offensive comment.  I mean, come on.  Women whose breasts are C cup or below (which is to whom the woman was referring) do have REAL breasts.  Actually, women with breasts have real breasts.  Doesn’t really matter what size they are, they’re real.

But this woman must have been having a really bad day, or else was just enjoying herself, and decided to vent her spleen on the internet – anonymously, the way all cowards do these days.

She went on to mock those offended women through a variety of downright vulgar comments that you routinely find in such threads and ultimately said,  well she was really just commenting on the fact that the store catered to smaller breasted women by only having smaller sizes available.

In other words, she just couldn’t grasp the concept that the reason why there were no large size bras available was not because the shoppe hadn’t made any for that demographic…but because that demographic was buying the bra like wildfire! Or, she just wanted to stir the pot.

Because she peppered her comments with such things as “apparently those with smaller breasts never grew a larger sense of humor past high school just like they never grew larger breasts past high school.”  Of course she used much more vulgar terminology throughout most of her rants which I’m not going to repeat here.  You get the idea I’m sure.

I kept reading this woman’s posts as if I were watching a train wreck.  It was gruesome, but I just couldn’t look away.

Women are faced with needless comments such as this that tear them down every day – without having it done to them by other women in such a senseless an idiotic manner.

And why? Did this woman walk away from her computer feeling better about herself?  Did it somehow make her day brighter in some way to insult a group of strangers who were only trying to buy some undergarments? People say “oh, grow a thicker skin,” or “don’t let what people say bother you.” But you know what? You should let it bother you. Oh, not in the way you might think. Don’t take it to heart and let it hurt your self-esteem because, it’s true, what people say is meaningless in that regard. Never let someone else bring you down. However, you should never let offensive comments just skate by without being addressed. Despite the popular opinion that is so common on those types of bullying threads – the people taking offense are NOT the ones in the wrong for being offended by cheap shots and insults.

And as for women who pull this crap on other women, just stop it. We’re all in this together, ladies. Let’s pull together as a team!

 shirt for ad

Bullies Forever

When I was very young—I won’t say exactly when, thereby aging myself—the first books I read were mysteries with kids my age as the protagonists. I started with The Bobbsey Twins and Trixie Belden, eventually moving up to the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew as I got a little bit older.

They were great and I liked the fun mysteries the plucky little kids were tasked with cracking. But one thing about them always annoyed me: the bully. There was always some terrible bully who would make things difficult for the main characters, even the teenage characters like Frank and Joe Hardy and Nancy Drew.

I brushed them off thinking that these were clichés the author used to move the plot along and give us a reason to root for the heroes a little bit more. Then, once I got into middle school, I found out the truth. There were not clichés. Bullies actually existed! I don’t think there was one grade from middle school on where I didn’t run into at least one archetypical bully. Contrary to popular belief, the girls were quite vicious. Any new girl in the class was fair game for their terrible verbal abuse. There was always at least one boy bully, too. While the girls were poetic in their nastiness, the boy bullies tended to use physical means to get their rocks off.

When I was in school, teachers rarely did anything about it. Times are changing. But back then, they’d shrug their shoulder or look away thinking, “Kids would be kids.” No real punishment or attempt at conflict resolution. Maybe the teachers just assumed that once these kids got older and graduated (or dropped out) they’d see the error of their ways and stop their bullying.

Well, anyone who watches reality TV knows that just isn’t true.

Kids who were bullies in school often stay bullies and the kids who stood by and watched generally tend to continue getting their jollies like that today.

Take the popular shows like Tosh.0 or Smoking Gun Presents World’s Dumbest. The format is similar. A group of D-list celebrities sit around and watch videos of accidents. Some of them are innocuous, like a husband and wife who fall into a pool at a wedding. No injury, no big deal. But then they watch other videos where people are actually getting hurt. Badly. They’ll show a clip of a skateboarder who lands on his head after falling down. The kid could have a concussion, or worse, and these people on the show are sitting in the studio taking delight in the moment. And people at home must be eating it up too, otherwise the shows wouldn’t keep airing.

Fox News has had a grand ol’ time denigrating the First Lady’s weight of late.  I’m not speaking to the politics of it – but the fact that anyone’s weight and the mocking thereof should make the “news” is just amazing to me. This is bullying, plain and simple.

And of course there are a myriad of shows and so-called celebrities whose sole purpose seems to be coming up with vile insults that pick apart the supposedly horrible way people look. No wonder our society has so many issues today.  This is popular entertainment. This is what we’ve become…millions of people sitting on their couches laughing at others and feeling superior.

Observing this behavior has forced me to come to the following conclusion: People have no empathy and no pride. Mocking others isn’t exactly a prideful moment. The lack of respect for our fellow human beings is shocking.

Need proof? Here’s the latest and greatest in human nature:  Yahoo Article on “People of the Iowa State Fair.”

This isn’t the official page of the Iowa State Fair, but it’s a page someone created to share photos of people attending the fair. Roughly 90% of these photos seem to have been taken by a bully–yes, a bully–looking for overweight people or people dressed in a unique and different way. The photos have captions that ridicule the innocent people who were just being themselves trying to have a fun day.

Of course, not everybody enjoys these photos.

According to the article:   Several visitors who find the site offensive have asked the administrator to take down (or at least take responsibility for) the page’s hurtful content, but to no avail. The administrator posted this response on Tuesday: “People watching is one of the great traditions of the Iowa State Fair, and this site was made to allow people worldwide to enjoy that… The internet is full of offensive and disgusting things, and if I stumble across a website that offends me, I re-direct my browser elsewhere immediately and do not go back.”

The italics are part of the article, but I’d italicize them if they hadn’t been, because that’s a common excuse.

“If you don’t like it, don’t watch.”

Well, the problem is, what about the people who do like these degrading photos and captions? They are society’s problem…because those adults are going to teach their kids that “fat-shaming” and “different-from-us-shaming” is okay.

Is normal.

Is funny.

And that’s so sad.

Bravery: To stand up against evils large and small

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you.”

That old truism has long been debunked. People who are prone to low self-esteem (such as teenagers) usually can not just ignore comments about their weight or their looks made from their peers (as in, other teenagers). Girls who have been called “fat” will desperately starve themselves to lose weight in an effort to stop the teasing – only to find that the clique of “mean girls” will just find something else to tease them about. In fact, these “mean girls” usually have a never-ending supply of hate that they’re more than willing to spew at those around them just to make themselves appear superior.

Physical bullying, beating someone up, is a horrific experience, don’t get me wrong. But too often verbal bullying is trivialized and made to seem “not so bad” when in fact, not only is it just as bad, it’s sometimes worse.  Verbal bullying is insidious and unceasing – especially with today’s technology of Facebook, Twitter, email and so on.

Bullying in school has long been considered an inane “rite of passage.” I don’t ever remember a teacher in my school standing up for a bullied kid – but then, most kids who are bullied don’t “squeal” to their parents or teachers in authority because they think that will just make the bullying even worse, and they’re usually right. Sadly, the school system (especially back in my day) is just not willing to do the right thing and stamp out bullying once and for all…even when concerned parents take a stand.

Instead, they turn a deliberately blind eye until something tragic happens.  It should never get to that point, people.  And this mentality has unfortunately crept its way into the minds of too many young people (hell, even adults). Kids will simply stand by and watch bullying without doing anything about it or they walk on, keeping their head down and not getting involved.  But if the bullied kid tries to fight back and becomes a “squealer” or a “tattle-tale” – they will shake their heads in contempt and wonder why the victim (except they don’t think of the word victim) can’t fight their own battles! These people don’t understand that it’s a battle that cannot be won alone.

It takes a brave person to stand up against the bullying of others – stand up for a new girl against a “mean girls” clique, and all of a sudden they’ll likely start targeting you, too – but it takes an even braver person to stand up against her own bullies.

I’m thinking of the story I just read about 14-year-old Carleigh O’Connell, over at the Huffington Post.

carleigh

Click photo for story

If you don’t want to click the link in the photo, I’ll tell you the story. She’s a normal sized girl, with normal sized hips – not a skeletal stick figure which is what all the girls are apparently supposed to look like these days. Someone spray-painted the words “Carleigh’s Ass” on a cement block located at a popular beach spot where everyone in town could see it.

Carleigh was initially hurt and embarrassed – who wouldn’t be? – but then she decided to show her would-be tormenters that they couldn’t push her around. She dressed in a bikini, stood on the block with her butt to the camera, and proudly showed it off. She shared the photo on social media and it has gone viral.

She’s being praised as someone who is sticking up for healthy body images for girls. I mentally applauded her for the way she handled the situation. Hell, I gave her a standing ovation.

And it got me to thinking some more.

What is bravery? To me, I don’t think bravery can simply be summed up as doing something that should be rewarded with a knighthood, a treasure, a medal, a trophy, or a statue. True bravery can be, and often is, small. It can be something other people don’t even notice. It can be a quiet, personal message to one other person if you want it to be. Or it can even be just for you.

Simply facing a bully or in this case fighting back against graffiti is an act of pure bravery.

What I wish would happen is that instead of bullying photos or comments making the rounds at the speed of light, we turn it around so that the bullies are the ones who look ridiculous.  At the speed of light.

In this day and age of social media, it would only take one or two people to get the ball rolling.  Instead of staying silent when you see someone being bullied (or worse, joining in because of peer pressure), you flip the script and call out how horrible of a person the bully is and post a comment on FB or other social media that draws attention to how this certain person is being unjustly cruel to someone else.

Yes, yes, this is definitely a case of fighting fire with fire, but is that so wrong?  This is not a problem with a simple solution. I bet it would cause some hot debate in an ethics class.  Is bullying a bully or rather “outing” a bully considered bullying?  Why should they be allowed to hide behind their atrocious personality or anonymous online postings?  Shouldn’t they be forced to come out in the open so people can make a judgment call on THEM and THEIR behavior?

I say yes.  What do you say?

Facebook Cliques

Sometimes I feel like none us of have ever actually left high school. The same lunchroom politics that influenced our “coolness” junior and senior year are the exact same ones that still come out in many social situations to this day. Take Facebook for instance. It’s just one big online lunchroom. The cliques that have organically developed as we all get more and more intertwined with the social media bazaar seem much like the groups I would see in my high school cafeteria when I tried to find the “correct” spot to sit and enjoy my PB&J.

At one table would be the bullies, the jocks, the guys who thought life will always be that awesome, that they’d always be revered as a god amongst men, and are now stuck in a suburban hell of their own making desperately pining to be 17 again, which is pretty sad when I sit and think about it. These are the hyper-aggressive people on Facebook that attack others by writing uncalled for things on their walls condemning their political views, religious stances, or just about anything they can grasp onto that will demean their “friend” and puff up their own chest a bit more as they hope for a fleeting whiff of the bygone glory days.

Then you have the gossip mongers. Remember them in high school? The girls who would whisper and giggle in the hallway as they played their own game of telephone to spread the news about who made out with who in which basement the night before (but don’t tell anyone because if his girlfriend found out there’d be drama…which they all secretly want of course). On FB these are the ones who post inappropriate pictures of others or call out people unnecessarily. Or they gather in their little clutch to discuss what Sally was wearing in that awful profile pic…and just what was she thinking with that hairstyle!  Or how Johnny’s new business that he just posted about isn’t all it’s cracked up to be (or so they heard) even though they have no idea what it is that Johnny even does for a living. They’ll post (and tag) someone in a photo from a casino night knowing that the person in the picture told their significant other they were going camping for the weekend. They set down the powder keg, light the fuse, then sit back and enjoy the fireworks show of their own creation. I mean seriously, you’d never guess these were grown-ups.

Of course not everyone is stirring up trouble on Facebook. You have the do-gooder clique as well. In high school these would be the people who would come by your lunch table asking you to sign up for a car wash on Saturday morning to raise money for the library restoration or volunteer to clean up the cigarette butts and broken bottles under the football bleachers or help out at the animal shelter….future great advocates.  And the news they now spread on Facebook is commendable.

But like with everything, some took it too far for their own personal reasons….the over the top go-getters.  These were the people who loved organizing completely unnecessary study groups at their house and were members of every single school committee possible…mostly because they enjoyed telling others what to do.  Facebook has their own version of this crowd as well and it’s quite transparent that they just want to get attention and prove that they’re better human beings than the rest of us. OK, fine, you’re better than me at life, alright? Now will you leave me alone?

Good for you. All of you. You bullies, you pot stirrers, you over the top go-getters. You all make things more interesting for our Facebook feeds. But let’s remember that by and large most of us on Facebook are just like most of us were in high school. We’re just trying to get by, man. Leave me alone and let me eat lunch with my friends in peace. In Facebook speak: let me just read a couple posts, see who’s pregnant, post some news, write a couple of messages, and get the hell out of there. Just minding my business, folks. That’s all I want. Is that too much to ask?