Pink

Today is Pink Shirt Day, a.k.a. Anti-Bullying Day, a day to wear a pink shirt and let it be known that you are taking a stand against bullying. I don’t have a pink shirt, so I won’t be wearing one today, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t take a stand against bullying.

I don’t have the numbers, but I believe it’s safe to say that every person in this world, in some way or form, has been bullied. And, I bet not a single person can say that they’ve never bullied someone either, even if they don’t realized they’ve done it. Talk about someone behind their back? Yep – that’s bullying. Call someone a moron because they misspelled or mispronounced a word? Again – bullying. Earlier this week I read about a young boy who wore a pink shirt to school to show his support behind the “end bullying” movement and he was made fun of. Wow. Some people’s kids.

When I was growing up, and I’m sure I’ve mentioned it many times on this blog, I was bullied. From my last name (“Puppy Chow!” “Chow Mein!” “Dog Chow!”), to the darkish upper lip hair (“You forgot to shave!”), to puberty symptoms (“You stink!” “Your face looks like a pizza!” “Do you have chicken pox?”). Eventually those insults stopped once I got to high school, but then an onslaught of new gems came on once I cut my hair super-short near the end of my Grade 8 year:

Grade9

I remember standing in the hallway during break and one of the popular (and attractive) Grade 11 guys hurling a sandwich at me and asking me if I was a lesbian. I’m not sure which hurt more – the words or the sandwich. So maybe the haircut wasn’t such a good idea, but did I deserve the insults? Probably not. Needless to say, I grew it out and during spring break got a new, stylish haircut, went to Palm Springs, and came back an entirely new person. That pretty much ended the bullying, and I was able to survive the rest of high school as a mediocre teenager: Popular enough to get by without being made fun of.

Unfortunately, I know that can’t be the same for a lot of kids I knew in high school. So many were never safe from the hurtful words of the “popular” kids, not even those with permanent disabilities like Downs Syndrome, or brain damage from car accidents. There were kids who crumbled to the “popular” kids’ demands, embarrassing themselves just to gain approval of their peers.

I will also sadly admit to being a bully myself. I won’t even say it was to make myself feel better about my own insecurities, although I’m sure a psychologist would say otherwise. I did it because my friends did it, and who doesn’t do what their friends do? It’s too easy to be a sheep. The girl we would make fun of was a little different than us. She dressed differently, she had a lazy eye, walked funny … good enough reasons for us to make fun of her and cast a shadow on her existence. I remember she got mad at one of us and tried to throw a punch. We even laughed at the way she punched.

Now that I look back on it, I feel horrible for being mean to her. I’m not saying we could have been friends, but I shouldn’t have acted the way I did. So, if one day she reads this, I’d just like to apologize for being a horrible bitch to you. Actually – to every person who I may have bullied, I apologize. And to those who bullied me – I forgive you.

We really do need to take a stand against bullying. There have been far too many stories in the news about kids being teased and picked on to the point where they’re hurting themselves, or even worse. I fear for my daughter ; no parent wants to hear about their child being a bully, nor do they want them to be on the receiving end of it. I truly hope that neither becomes true for Isla.

To parents: Talk to your kids about bullying. There’s a saying that my mom would always say to me, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” Do it. Teach it. Lead by example. Don’t turn a blind eye if you get word that your child is being a bully because there may be a reason why. And don’t just tell a child who’s being bullied, “Sticks and stones …” because words really do hurt.

I’ll leave you with the TV commercial for Pink Shirt Day. And, if you haven’t already, watch this YouTube video posted by Canadian poet Shane Koyczan, which I originally posted last week.

A Letter to My Teenaged Self

To my teenaged self,

There are many things right now that you think you know the answer to, but really, you don’t. Not that you’re completely wrong, but you’re not completely right. Where shall I start?

For one, boys really do think with their dicks. They’ll tell you that they’ve liked you for x-amount of years, but the truth is, they’ll tell you that just so you’ll date them and really, they say that to all the girls they like. Also? They’ll use you. They’ll play with your feelings. They’ll make you think that they like you just to get something from you. But – That’s what being a teenager is. You’ll eventually learn that the right guy WILL come along, and when he does, don’t play with his head. There will be ups and downs in the relationship, but it will always work out and in the end you’ll have no regrets. (I promise!)

You’ll also find that friends come and go. You’ll be upset about it for a while, but don’t fret. High school friendships come and go and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. (Kind of like high school romances). There will be times later on in life where you’ll probably miss that friendship a little bit, but keep in mind that things always happen for a reason and there’s always new friends to be made down the road. It’s okay to be a bit of a loner.

There will be times when you’ll feel pressured to do and try things that you probably shouldn’t. These choices aren’t necessarily the right ones to make, but it will be a live and learn experience. Don’t ever feel compelled to do things just to make people like you; these things will just hurt those who matter the most – your family especially. They’ll still love you – that’s what family is for after all – but don’t lash out at them just because they do. Even if you don’t think it’s fair.

Finally – Remember to love yourself no matter what. Ignore what people say about you, because they don’t know the TRUE you. You’re amazing, you’re perfect just the way you are. Never forget that, even when you don’t think it’s true.

Sincerely,

Your future self

 

Diving into Swimwear

About a month ago I signed Isla up for swimming lessons. It’s something that I did when I was a baby, and I really think she’s going to love the water. The only thing I have to do is deal with my extreme distaste for public pools for two days a week for a month and we’ll be good. Oh, and the whole body image thing.

Ever since writing this post a few months ago, I’ve really been trying to accept my post-baby body. Really, it’s nothing to be ashamed of; I’ve lost all of my baby weight, which is amazing. I credit the entire loss to breastfeeding along, because with the calories I lose producing milk have made me a ravenous fiend. Kyle still thinks I look great, and while I appreciate his words and believe him in a way, I’m still a little disheartened and grossed out by myself – Mostly my stretch marks.

I’m really not looking forward to donning a bathing suit. I went shopping for swim wear on Sunday because my boobs got ginormous (compared to what they were, say, in high school) and because I wanted to find something to hide my stretch marks. I think these little bastards are what’s getting my down the most. Yes – I’m still trying to remind myself that they’re my “honour badge,” but it’s harrrrd. Like I said in that linky post above – I’ve dealt with body and appearance issues all my life. Chock it up to low self esteem. It’s a curse.

I pondered getting a nice one-piece bathing suit, but after looking at my choices (which are slim to none in the middle of December, I might add), I thought, “What about a tankini? I can still have the comfort of a two-piece but the cover-upage of a one piece! WIN!” Yeah – not so much. My boobs fit the cups of a medium just right but the tummy section is too loose. A small can barely contain my boobage. Ugh.

Anyway, after leaving the swimsuit store feeling rather defeated, this is how I felt:

Kyle pointed out that I shouldn’t be so worried about what I look like since Isla’s swim class is going to be full of other moms who are going to have similar body appearances as myself. Good point, my love. But – it still doesn’t help the fact that my boobs are ridiculous. Oh, and since I’ve been doing zip-all for physical activity my ass is all gross and saggy and ugh and my old bathing suit bottom doesn’t fit so hot.

But, with her swimming lessons starting just around the corner, I’m just going to suck it up (and in) and go with what I have. I’m going to TRY and accept my post-baby body as it is and done a bikini for the first time in a couple years. I’m going to keep reminding myself of what Kyle said to me, and I’m going to be grateful for the fact that I’ll be submerged in a pool so my “flaws” will be underwater anyway.

Now, just to find a top that will cover my ta-tas accordingly.