Sticks and Stones

melissa mccarthy

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 

actor.playwright.director

Danielle 

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/

 

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Growing Up

12 Comments

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  1. Let me just start by saying that I love your message. And your blog, which I need to read more of :-).

    Specific to the article you mentioned, I still have a hard time reading things like that because they’re just too triggering. Three to four years in recovery and I’m still a bit scared about how reading those messages will affect me. I think many things contributed to my body dysmorphia/disordered eating (my mom’s disordered eating, my own gender struggles/transition, low self-esteem, society’s idea of what beauty or attractive is, etc.), but the pressure that is put on women to be a certain weight or to have a certain look is unreal. We’re inundated by negative messages literally all day long that scream you can only be beautiful if you ______ (eat lettuce all day, run 5 miles, wear Lululemon, etc.). I’m going to skip over the obvious comments of “there’s so much diversity, the average size of a woman is around a 12 and not a 2, etc.” because I think that’s all known. What’s more frustrating to me is that comments like those made by Rex Reed are just downright disrespectful, insensitive, and completed out of line. I can feel the rage boil up inside of me and I just want to scream to him, “Who the f*ck are you that you can comment on somebody else’s body?” (Without getting into politics, it invokes similar emotions in me when certain politicians make comments about women’s bodies and their right to contraception/abortions….like, it’s not YOUR body.)

    I believe that we have no right to comment on others’ bodies, weight, food choices, etc. We obviously cannot prevent others from judging, but commenting is just out of line. You never know somebody’s past or somebody’s story. We are just humans, just people, why can’t we be treated as such? Back in the throes of my own eating disorder, I used to cry and wish that I lived in the time where it was the overweight people who were valued, as being overweight meant that you had money for food and did not have to work all day in the fields. Those who weighed less were the poorer people as they had to work all day and/or could not afford as much food as the bigger kings and queens of the world. I always wonder when exactly the shift in paradigm was, and when being thin started being valued, and why.

    What strikes me as odd (though perhaps it shouldn’t?) is how little empathy we have towards others surrounding body/weight/looks. My husband, who has also had struggles with severe disordered eating, lost a lot of weight several years ago. He had people tell him “you look so amazing now,” thinking they were paying a compliment. In reality, they were 1) implying he was of more worth now since he weighed less, 2) not realizing that he lost weight by literally starving himself due to a severe eating disorder, and 3) triggering the memories of fighting that eating disorder battle. I really wish people realized what are behind the supposed compliments of “you’ve lost weight, you look great.” To this day, I will NEVER complement somebody on their weight loss (for multiple reasons).

    I really could go on for days, but won’t. Just my two cents on the whole matter.

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  2. What a lovely post. Amen. I thought Melissa McCarthy did a wonderful job in the movie, even if the film itself was a little convoluted. On the subject of bullying, there’s this weird societal understanding that our personal opinions are the Most Important Things In The Universe, and that by asserting those opinions over others, we are climbing some sort of metaphorical ladder and elevating ourselves from the people we criticize–which is funny, because the actual result of imparting judgment on another is the exact opposite of elevating oneself.

    I’ve found specifically that a lot of body image slurs directed toward women tend to come out of a sense of entitlement less than a sense of insecurity–and in some cases, are a result of a lack of understanding rather than a place of meanness. There’s this misguided belief, especially in American media, that another’s appearance exists for your particular enjoyment, and if you don’t enjoy that appearance then you have the right to say something about it. Men like Rex Reed especially seem to think it’s an unspoken rule that they can “help” us (women) look more to their liking, and judge us when we “fail” in that goal–because that is our ultimate goal, isn’t it, to look good for men? (So funny.) It’s an invisible sexism thing, that fundamental lack of understanding of a falsely-perceived equality that’s perpetuated in the media, by the media, and, by way of merry-go-round, by our own interactions with each other. Women are to look and act a certain way, and when we don’t live up to those expectations, we are victimized or shamed for it.

    I can’t help but grow more attuned to this weird societal image of the Impossibly Perfect Woman out here in LA, where I see breakdowns for male characters all the time that don’t mention any sort of physical attribute, but am constantly bombarded with ONLY physical descriptors for female characters–I’ve yet to see a breakdown for a female character that doesn’t include the words “cute”, “attractive”, “sexy”, or “mousy” (and that’s not even touching on the constant body descriptors they assault us with). I’m in such awe of Melissa McCarthy’s bravery and strength in changing our understanding of beauty, and of what it means to be feminine, in the face of entitled men like Rex Reed. It’s upsetting that such a talented and beautiful woman has to deal with people like him.

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  3. Edward Mawere June 5, 2013 — 2:41 pm

    I love this post because, like you I was the outcast, the “oreo” and I wasnt always sporting the latest trends. That’s not to say that I was poor but those things were not and still are not that important. i remember in high school I used my wardrobe to cover my insecurities and my body. Now that I had control over my wardrobe I only wore the best brands hoping that people wouldn’t see how insecure I was. I was the bully before I was bulied and god forbid you said something off the way crazy I would cut you down to the point where people would feel sorry for the person who wronged me. People say that the things you hate in others are the things you hate about yourself.. I feel that to be true.

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  4. My name has been butchered my whole life and when I was chubby when I was younger they tried to call me “Fattian”. My mother has always been on me about the way I look, even till this day… Some things never change. I have been bullied and I can also say I have also been a bully. This girl used to lie on kids including myself and when I tried to be nice to her it back fired. So I and a bunch of other kids ganged up on her and flipped the script. I know we made school hard for her. And I don’t know who the worse person was in the situation… Two wrongs don’t make a right! Now I live a different life.
    But as far as the Caribbean lunch topic, let’s just say that that is the reason I can eat rice and beans and chicken in sauce at any hour of the day, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be heated up since nobody was going to take my lunch to the microwave for me at school.

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  5. Fawziyya Heart June 1, 2013 — 12:21 am

    Ever since you told me that when one door closes another one opens you have been an inspiration and someone I look up to. I am thrilled that you are blogging about things that people are not talking about when it comes to body image. It’s a constant struggle no matter how you look. However reading your post is helping me view myself in a different manner, not saying I don’t want change, but before I can change I need to be happy with who I am! Keep it up girl your changing lives one word at a time! ❤

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  6. I did a comedy workshop in Philly via Emmanuel Delpech. Jen Childs of 1812 Productions was hosting it. She wanted to explore comedy and women – women of all shapes sizes ages and colors. Our first exploration was of stereotypes: there were no cutcards. Because each of us came from such different backgrounds, we shared our own particular stereotypes – one’s that we’d be most likely associated with or ones that were particular to our culture – with the group. So I was: 21. black. a college student – several stereotypes are spawned from those attributes. Then we played, in improv, the stereotypes we had brought up. It felt weird and yet, some of the “stereotypes” were pretty darn funny. Why? We asked. It’s interesting that one consensus we came to (still without explanation) is that plus-sizedness is funny on a black woman, but sad and pitiful on a white woman. Furthermore, that pretty & skinny isn’t really funny UNLESS the woman almost completely masks her femininity with masculinity. Interesting, huh? Of course, these stereotypes of stereotypes can be flipped, but we found that as women, when we’re performing comedy – this is what we go for. Our tricks. The other week, after our singing class, my friend Kemi pointed out that all the “comedic” songs sung by males were funny b/c of the character’s wit & charm – you laughed with him, as an equal. But the “comedic” songs sung by the females were funny b/c you laughed AT her. The female comedic characters were weird & quirky & seen as either not too bright or crazy. Perception and interpretation is everything. I think that we rarely examine how we’re interpreting in this culture. We don’t realize that our narrow interpretation makes for retrofitted art that keeps people in boxes. Nice post! Ps- I’ve started a blog about my process with In the Continuum & preparing to perform it in Uganda! twothemotherland.wordpress.com 🙂

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  7. Georges-Philippe May 31, 2013 — 7:58 pm

    “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words may never hurt me” is a catchy expression that might give kids some sense of immunity to gossips and insults, but in reality, words sting like a bitch. Especially because the only knowledge we have of our self-portrayal is based off of how others act towards us and the ways they describe us. Bullying is so real and it’s pretty cool/inspiring to see you going full throttle with this movement. I know most people are advised to deal with bullies in the most effective possible way, which is ignoring them. In my opinion, the best way to deal with a bully is to destroy them and be better in every possible way you can. It’s nice to know that you care about my opinion. Keep doing what you’re doing

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  8. Interesting article.

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  9. The sad reality is that we live in wold based off of principles that hold no true value. We teach our children not to judge a book by its cover, yet we continuously pass judgement on people for their outer appearance. Until we are able to look at ourselves with much less critical eye, we will never be able to look at others that way.

    Thank you so much for these blogs. They’ve made me dig a little deeper into myself and challenge the social norms placed on me in reference to body image.

    Like

  10. The sad reality is that we live in wold based off of principles that hold no true value. We teach our children not to judge a book by its cover, yet we continuously pass judgement on people for their outer appearance. Until we are able to look at ourselves with much less critical eye, we will never be able to look at others that way.

    Thank you so much for these blogs. They’ve made me dig a little deeper into myself and challenge the social norms placed one in reference to body image.

    Like

  11. I personally think it boils down to projected insecurity. Rex Reed chose to point and laugh and call names because it was easy to do and also because …if she is plus size AND loves herself, where does that leave him? It is always easier to cut down something you dont understand and make fun of people who tower over you with what you seek personally.
    He is pathetic and I guess he was threatened by her incredible talent and comfort in herself, so he tried to make her uncomfortable. And she was not hearing it. LOVE her.

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