Tuesday, April 05, 2011

On using cosmetic surgery to stop bullying…

FYI – today is Election Day in Missouri. Go forth and vote, people!

And now for our regularly scheduled bitchitude...I just read this article over at ABCNews.com and…well, it made my Afro hurt.

The headline should offer a clue on why – When Is Cosmetic Surgery the Answer to Bullying?

Pause…sip coffee…continue.

Shall we?

When I was a wee bitch I was bullied mercilessly for all things related to my blackness.  When they made fun of my hair, I cut it off in an attempt to make it look more like the bob that was the trend at the time.  When they made fun of my ashy knees, I meticulously rubbed lotion into my skin before school.  When they made fun of my lips I tried to fold them inward…that didn’t last long.   

Ultimately my bullies focused on my blackness as a whole – I was different and I could not change, so I thought that the best I could hope for was to conform as much as possible and get rewarded for not being as black as some of the other students who came to school through the desegregation program. 

County black trumped city black, but black was still worthy of bulling.

By the time I hit Junior High I realized that I had accepted the unacceptable – that these assholes set the agenda and had the rest of us scrambling to meet their standards so we could make the constant taunts, physical abuse, and harassment stop.  I decided that was bullshit and stopped trying, but I lost a lot to those years of bullying.

Here’s the thing – the same young people who are having surgery to make their ears stick out less will likely be the same young people who will find out that their hair isn’t just so, their clothes aren’t up to par, or their [insert anything here] offends the same horrible little shit who used to make fun of their ears.

Here’s another thing – bullying hurts more than just the person being bullied.  Bullying distracts from class work…it creates a climate of fear and intimidation…and, if left unchecked, it creates grown ass people who bully because they were young people who bullied.

I understand the attraction of cosmetic surgery as a solution to your child getting teased about their ears.  It’s gotta be hard to see your child miserable because of something like how their ears are positioned on their head. 

But cosmetic surgery isn’t the solution to bullying.

Cosmetic surgery is a solution for some people who have ears that stick out and want to change that.

We need to shift our thinking on this shit.  We need to focus on the bully and ask ourselves why they aren’t being asked to change.  And we need to deal with the fact that bullies will bully until bullies are taught not to bully.

Eventually the bully will move on to something that isn’t changeable…to something that isn’t fixable through an expensive surgery and painful recovery.

Because bullies bully until bullies are taught not to bully.

When we start down the road of changing ourselves to appease bullies we being a journey that will never end and that puts the responsibility for being harassed on the survivor rather than on the person who desperately needs some home training and likely needs therapy.

This is the "solution" that has people blaming the gay kid for acting too gay…the black kid for not acting too black…the fat kid for not losing weight…the woman for dressing in a provocative manner…the deaf kid for not dedicating her life to making hearing people more comfortable…and so forth and so on until finally the bullies of the world are satisfied.

But the bullies of the world will never be satisfied.

Bullies bully until whatever the fuck kind of insecurity and/or self-hate they are avoiding dealing with is dealt with.

Pause…sip coffee…continue.

Surgery will be a solution for bullying when doctors discover the Bully Tumor and create a surgery to remove that rancid shit.

Until then...well, now that those ears have been “fixed” I’ve noticed how large the nose is and you could lose some weight and your hair is too short and you “act gay” and why are your feet so big and…





The Roving Reporter said...

Great post! I've also noticed how society looks at those being bullied and ask what they were doing "wrong" to get bullied.

There needs to be more pressure on parents to teach their children not to lash out and bully others. I believe children pick up bullying behavior mostly because of what is going on in the home. I would be willing to bet that these bullies are often put down by their own parents and/or siblings and made to feel next to nothing, which influences them to become bullies just to assert their dominance over others.

Kendra Holliday said...

Hear, hear!

Have you seen the documentary on labioplasty? It featured a 20 yr old woman who got her girl parts sliced because her sister teased her so much about it as a teenager. They interviewed the sister and she was very sheepish, saying she didn't mean anything by it, but the damage was done. Some people tease out of love, and it can still cause serious harm.

Susie Kline said...

You are wonderful! Love it all!

xo Susie

ps and passing this along everywhere!

Anonymous said...

I really wish I'd read this when I was 13 or so. Thanks.

Denise said...

*raises coffee cup to you*

Yes, we (ALL of us) need to stop making Barbie (and any glossy magazine cover) a standard of expectation, and celebrate EVERYONE'S beauty ...

...I can't tell you how this topic infuriates me. I am very glad you've spoken to it.

cherry Woodburn said...

Fabulous, well written post. Yet, I'm sad that it has to be written at all.

When I was in a Soc. class 40 years ago there was an eye-opening book for me entitled Blaming the Victim. Not sure we've learned much since then.
Cherry Woodburn

Eduardo Guize said...

you're so right about this!

Connie said...

Amen, and amen.

When my daughter was in the 4th grade, she came home from school one day saying that "the girls" told her that her skirt was too long. I said, "Shall we just go ahead and schedule your plastic surgery?"

She said, "What??!"

I said, "Well, today your skirt is too long so we'll hem it, tomorrow they'll say your hair is too long so we'll cut it, the next day they'll say that your elbows are shaped funny, so let's just go ahead and schedule the surgery."

"Oh Mom, that's silly!"

"Well, alright then. Let's just decide right now that we either do or do not care what 'the girls' say."

Trish said...

That's just about the best blog post I've ever read. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

It is sad that our some in our society believe that cosmetic, material, surface alterations are going to solve problems and conflicts that stem from the interior of humanity. This can only create more problems and more wasted resources.


Prince Todd said...

I'm in total agreement with you. Had my mother yielded to my pleas for plastic surgery in high school I would have had repeated nose jobs; eye surgery (I thought my eyes were too big); ear surgery; and surgery to extend my height.
What I didn't know what that I would eventually grow into my features (which I did), now I love them and don't want surgery.
High school kids are shit heads. They are all insecure so they single out the person who is even more insecure and exploit them.
Recently, I confronted one of my former bullies on Facebook and lit her UP. All she could do was apologize profusely.

Ryan Hauck said...

Standing ovation from here. This is an absolutely brilliant, powerful post and I love it. I'm saving it so my kids can read it when they're a little older. Thank you for this courageous post.

Kathryn Bjornstad-Kelly said...

Completely agree. I was trying to cure my autism before I knew I had autism, just to make the bullying stop. It never worked, and I was victimized further while the people who bullied me got off with nothing.

I was hurt badly, not because I was autistic or had red hair or because I was weird, but because I was bullied by my peers mercilessly and repeatedly for ten years, and because my teachers alternately encouraged and ignored it. I was sent to therapy to fix whatever was wrong with me, and the boy who threatened to rape me and shoved me into a locker and stole my things got to play sports and taunted me openly in front of school officials and teachers. No therapy for him, he was normal and desirable and other children emulated him because he was a sports hero and I was a little nothing who didn't have school spirit and was too disabled for sports. Justice? I think not.

And I like being autistic. I don't want to be cured. I want to make the world a safer place to be autistic.

Triplezmom said...

Great post. Thank you.

Erica said...

Thank you so much for this! I completely and whole-heartedly agree--the onus is on the bully, not the victim here.

Naija said...

Perfectly said!

Liz said...

Cynical evil me wants to suggest that the solution to bullying over appearance is to give the BULLY surgery to have the trait that inspired the bullying.

"You make fun of some kid's huge nose? It's yours for a year--and hey, at least you won't be teased about it because you're a perfect example of why not to mouth off."

Carolyn Moon said...

Just recently introduced to your site and what a audacious approach to
a problem that has dogged females and males forever! So impressed that you are my featured blog of the week.

With curtsies and bravos......

Lady Diazepam said...

Excellent article, thank you for posting!

Also thanks to those who have commented. I was bullied for 3 years in primary school, because I was smart and not good at sports. (The school was academically poor and sports-mad.) The teachers either ignored the bullying or participated in it.

Although I grew into a beautiful teenager and managed to hang onto my looks into middle-age, those image wounds took a long time to heal.

Recently had the satisfaction of hearing that one of my tormentors, who was always bragging about her family's wealth and supposed superiority because they were Christian Scientists, has been posting suicidal messages on Facebook.

Sleepydumpling said...


I am so glad I'm not the only one who is saying it. Bullies need to be taught not to bully. The onus needs to be on bullies to change their shitty, shitty behaviour, not the rest of us to avoid/prevent their shitty, shitty behaviour.

I wrote about the same thing myself: http://fatheffalump.wordpress.com/2011/03/17/too-little-too-late/ if you want a read.

Unknown said...

When my youngest daughter (who is white & Cherokee) was 8, she was bullied by a black child in her school for having lips that were 'too fat'. She was blessed with those perfectly shaped full lips that women pay loads of money to achieve (and never quite get). When she told me, I admit, I laughed first. A black child picking on a white child for fat lips? That's got to be a first! Then I did all the right parental stuff and told her how wonderful they were, blah blah blah. I even pulled up pictures of Rhianna & Angelina Jolie. But what hurt her the most was that it was something she couldn't change about herself. I was the victim of bullying when I moved to the south from the north. Yankees rank under blacks for social status in the rich, white south. It took me five years, but I finally developed the same f**k you attitude. And now, at almost 16, my daughter has too. It hurts to see that very sensitive child become a thick skinned almost adult though. She was such an empathetic person. So she still had to give up some part of herself because of bullies. Just like I did. So neither of us has any empathy for bullies. Too bad, they could probably use it.

nice little man said...

Bullies, bullied and witnesses are all harmed! ABB and we who comment have very likely been all 3. The onus is "on us" to heal all 3.

Anonymous said...

This post shows why I love this blog so much. You always nail it.

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