Tonight, I was hanging out watching some of the back episodes of Extreme Makeover Home Edition that had built up on my dvr. The oldest episode I had was the one about the Walker Family. This episode simply broke my heart and I was fighting tears the whole time. The Walker Family lost their 11 yr old, 6th grade son to suicide when the bullying he had suffered through finally stole the last of his fight, the last of his will to live. Part of the reason this episode hit me so strongly was the memories of when my oldest son dealt with bullying…at that very same age. Marty was bullied so badly that he told me “I’d rather die than go back there” referring to school.
As anyone who has been bullied knows, the things they say to you are designed to hurt you, to make you ashamed of who you are. Bullies call you names that make you feel less…less of a person, less worthy, less deserving. Bullies make you miserable.
Last night, I participated in the #Ashamed twitter
party event designed to raise awareness about a horrible ad campaign going on down in Georgia. A group called Strong 4 Life formed with the intention of fighting childhood obesity. While the cause is noble, their method of fighting childhood obesity amounts to no more than state sanctioned bullying. Strong 4 Life plastered the Atlanta area with billboards featuring young kids. These billboards showed the kids with miserable expressions on their faces, closed off postures, and captions such as “Warning: It’s Hard To Be A Little Girl If You’re Not”. The billboards don’t promote healthy eating. The billboards don’t promote exercise and outdoor fun. The billboards don’t try and change the problem through education. These billboards shame the children for their size. These billboards BULLY. As the always brilliant and very beautiful Cecily said last night “If shame helped us lose weight, well, we’d all be VERY SKINNY.”
Please join me and all the other wonderful people who were at the twitter event in letting Strong4Life know what you think of there state sanctioned bullying. If you’re on twitter, send out a tweet to @Strong4Life and let them know what they should do instead of bullying these young kids about their weight. Use the hashtag #ashamed. Also, help fight against bullying in general, educate your children. Give them the tools to fight back against it. And, take a moment to support the Walker family and support their fight against bullying. Drop by the Stand Together website, click on the Get Your # button, print your number,take a picture with it, and load it on their site. As of right now, 165,756 standing together to fight bullying. Let’s make that number grow.