Stick and Stones may break my bones/but words will never hurt me. How many of us grew up with this saying? When I was little I used to chant this to students on the playground who would try to mess with any of my friends- or me.
I was a weird little kid. My parents were Jamaican and I never had the opportunity to come to school with Lunchables or Ham Sandwiches. I always wanted to have a Capri Sun Juice!! Lunch Time ALWAYS stressed me out. When all my friends would pull out their super amazing lunch boxes with Disney characters plastered on the sides, I would have a plastic Shop- Rite bag filled with “treats.” When your best friends are eating turkey sandwiches and your eating curry goat, rice and beans with plantains, you may get some strange looks. I never had a “normal” lunch. Trying to explain to a third grader what Oxtail Stew was absolutely mortifying. I was the only black kid in school. I would have beef patties or saltfish fritters as a snack! Nowadays, those lunches are amazing to have, but back in the 90s people used to look at me as if I had 35 heads.
I grew up in Boston, and as we all know, it SNOWS in the wintertime. It’s not one of those cute Miracle on 35th Street snows, it’s like “hide yo kids hide yo wife” snow. My mom, being an amazing single mom, provided and bought me what was necessary. Necessities consisted of: a roof over my head; food; soap; tuition for school and school books. Unfortunately snow suits and sleds did not make the cut. So, when everyone was sledding down hills and valleys with their brand new Toys R Us sleds; I used to weasel my way onto a trash can lid as I wrapped myself in a bubble wrap. Yes I said bubble wrap. My grandma always used to said: “You have to turn your hand and make fashion.” Which rougly means, you gotta improvise with what you don’t have and make something better. My life as a child survived on improv.
When I was little I was bullied. My last name was Pinnock, so I was called Parakeet and Pinocchio. It also doesn’t help that my nose is extremely small- so kids would tap my nose if they thought I was telling a lie to see if it would grow. Being a black student in an all white private school can be a little difficult to say the least. To the white kids I was weird with my smelly lunches, and to the black kids I was not black enough, because I liked reggae and soca music instead of rap. We can never get rid of bullies. They are like inner city roaches, that will never die. It doesn’t matter how much Raid you spray on them. They exists not only on the playground but at work; on the train; in families; between friends; in committed relationships, and we can even bully ourselves.
Why this post? So I just finished watching Identity Theft with the incredibly talented Melissa McCarthy. She, as we all remember, is the hilarious actress from Bridesmaids- and yes she is plus size. I read the reviews about the film which, in all honesty, was just- okay. But, the reviews seemed to contain lots of slurs against McCarthy’s weight.
The New York Observer film critic, Rex Reed, went off the edge of the cliff and called this brilliantly talented woman a: “hippo; whale; tractor sized; and obese.” What does her size have anything to do with her genius comedic talent? What does anyone’s size, color, religious background, sexuality, financial bracket, age, disability have anything to do with their talent/drive? If he hated the movie, just hate the movie, but, do not degrade this person. He is a bully. To be honest, I know sticks and stones may break my bones, but these words definitely would have hurt me.
Honestly, whatever your industry is, you have to have a tough skin. People are going to say some crazy off the wall things to you. You have to be the bigger person, smile, and move forward. There is absolutely no point in allowing someone to demean you for their own sense of “superiority.” The way to get the last laugh when being bullied, is to be completely secure in yourself. Bullies have insecurities too. I really want the younger readers to understand that if you are being bullied, stand up for yourselves. Never be scared to be something different. The people who are considered “weird” and “different” usually are the most successful. Look at Oprah, Einstein and Bill Gates!
Also, I want you all to understand, there is no reason to bully yourself. We are our own toughest critics. We need to stop wishing we were something else. We all have wished to be: younger; smarter; clear faced; more like our favorite celebrity. Some wish to have longer hair, skinnier thighs, a six pack Billy Blanks/Turbo Jam/Insanity Abs. Stop wishing for features things you don’t have and learn to appreciate the things you do. It could ALWAYS be worst.
Handle bullies with grace. I know Melissa McCarthy is living it up, not paying this reporter any mind. I can imagine her swimming in her gold coins like Uncle Scrooge in Duck Tales.
Someone is always going to have something to say about you, it’s just in how you handle it. Be Confident in Yourself and if you don’t know how to be confident, make a list of things you like about yourself. It can be a small list, but everyday-or week- discover something different and focus on the positive aspects.
I challenge you all this week to think about the harshest thing(s) anyone has every said to you about your body. Write them all down on little pieces of paper, put the papers together, cut them up, and throw them out the window. Now, if you have said anything harsh about someone else’s body- do the same exercise, but before you throw them out the window FORGIVE YOURSELF. We all make mistakes every single day. Choose today to be the greatest possible you.
Love freely, bravely and help stop bullying
Here is the article to read further about Melissa McCarthy: http://observer.com/2013/02/declined-in-identity-thief-batemans-bankable-billing-cant-lift-this-flick-out-of-the-red/