Tag Archives: bullying

My Biggest Triggers – The Truth About Bullies

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Random picture of my cat for no particular reason.

I am going to begin today’s post with ad admission. Over the last two years, I regained 58 pounds. This is not something I’m very proud of or happy about. My binge eating returned and I went through a very busy and stressful two years. Bottom line, I was not paying attention to my health and weight the way I should.

The good news is, I have taken corrective action. I am seeing a doctor to help me get my weight loss back on track, and I am seeing a therapist to help me develop the necessary skills to deal with the crazy, eating disordered part of my brain. As a result, as of two weeks ago, I am down 10 pounds.  I see the doctor again this week where I will be weighed. I think I lost some more. I noticed my leggings felt looser this week. Not just one pair, but all of them. I am not weighing myself at home, though. I have a tendency to weigh myself every day, and every teeny movement of the scale makes me crazy. I am either delighted that I’m down a pound or two, or depressed because there was no discernible movement or a slight one pound regain. It helps me more to look at the bigger picture and get weighed less often.

This brings me to today’s topic. Triggers.

For me, my triggers are the events, emotions, etc. that cause me to lose control and find solace in food. In my case, that food is usually salty, crunch, and starchy. Sometimes, but not often, sugary foods will do. Cheetos are my standby. If I’m eating Cheetos, chances are there is something in my life that is causing me undo stress and causing me to feel out of control.

My two biggest triggers are yelling, and when people are saying negative, untrue things about me behind my back to the people I love and respect.

How Gossip Affects Me:

When people talk about me behind my back, that really cuts me to the quick. It hurts because someone thinks badly enough about me to gossip. And it hurts because I fear their words will affect how others see me.

In my head, I know that any true friend, and anyone who really knows me wouldn’t allow someone else’s thoughtless or mean words change their opinion of me. And anyone who does allow gossip to color how they see me, is not really a friend.

Maybe that is what truly hurts because in the past, I have had people I thought were my friends turn on me solely due to the untrue, or misrepresented words of another person. I start to think that someone I trusted and thought of as a friend really thought badly of me all along. I question my judgment. I question my own internal sense of self. And I begin to question if there really is something wrong with me. In short, it breaks my heart.

How Yelling Affects Me:

I cannot stand yelling. I never could. It is one thing to have a disagreement with someone, even if that sometimes gets loud. That’s different from what I mean.

Yelling, or screaming is irrational. Usually the screamer is using that tactic as a way to silence the person they are yelling at and to establish dominance. There is no talking to a screamer. There is no way to rationally discuss anything with a screamer. And there is no way to resolve a problem with a screamer. They are right, you are wrong, and they will use their physical and psychic power to shut you down.

I push back hard on screamers.

I recently had a guy I know vaguely scream at me about something. He screamed at me at the top of his lungs in a crowded room.

I did not even what he was screaming about. I just looked at him and calmly said, “I do not have a husband, and my father is dead. No man screams at me. You are no one to me. What gives you the right to think you can talk to me that way?”

I stood up for myself. I did not let him bully me. I walked away. Sounds strong right?

The truth is, I fretted about this incident for a very long time. I was shaking and very angry. I was emotionally distraught. How dare he? Who does he think he is? Why would he think it is OK to do that to me? This event happened nearly a year ago and I still bring it up. That is how much of an impact it made.

Recently, I became aware of a situation where someone has been bullying a person I love using these two tactics. Screaming irrationally, and gossiping about me. Why I was brought into the situation, I’ll never know, but there you have it. This situation has really made me kind of crazy. I did not even hear the yelling, but just knowing that it was going on started the wheels in the crazy, food addicted part of my brain cycling out of control.

It has taken every ounce of self-control inside me to stay focused. I have waffled between anger, sadness, frustration, rage, and feelings of worthlessness, and powerlessness.

It is true that I have no power over what this person says or does. I also have no control over the impact their words have not he people I love. But that does not make their words true, their behavior right, or me powerless.

Realizing that truth has taken me a long time. Too long.

The truth is, screaming and gossiping are forms of control and intimidation used by bullies. And that’s all people who use these tactic are…bullies.

Maybe the reason screamers and gossipers affect me so badly is because I was bullied as a child. That bullying had a lasting impact on how I see myself. It was only well into my adulthood that I accepted the truth…that when someone bullies you, there is something wrong with them. Not you.

Knowing that intellectually is one thing. Really accepting it in your heart and soul is another.

Fatty Fatty Two-by-Four

Do not like fat people?  Think they are ruining the health of this country?  Bully them!  So says prominent bioethicist Daniel Callahan.

OK, to be fair, he does not use the word bully, but I see little difference between what he is recommending and bullying.  He calls it “stigmatization.”  He tries to compare it to the successful stigmatization campaign against smokers to reduce smoking in this country.  He justifies his theory thusly:

It will be imperative, first, to persuade them that they ought to want a good diet and exercise for themselves and for their neighbor and, second, that excessive weight and outright obesity are not socially acceptable any longer. 

Really?  Excessive weight and obesity are not socially acceptable any longer?  When, pray tell, was being fat ever acceptable?  I would like to know when he thinks that is.  I have been battling poor self-image all of my life because even when I was thin, everyone told me I was fat.  I have faced social ostracization,  mean comments uttered both aloud and muttered so that just I could hear them, and mockery because of my weight.  I have been held back professionally because of my weight and my weight also affected my dating life.

So, when exactly, does he think it became cool to be fat?

Here are some of his suggestions for bringing social pressure to bear on fat or on their way to being fat people:

I do not know what is scarier, the fact that he is promoting bullying as a useful tactic in the fight against obesity or that he thinks that overweight people do not know what so-called thin people think of us.  Yes, I stand by my term bullying because that is exactly what this kind of social pressure is.

The worst part of all of this?  Mr. Callahan makes many other astute and valid points in his thesis.  He talks about bringing government pressure to bear on the food industry, taxing high caloric, high fat food, changing school lunches, finding ways to address childhood obesity.  All excellent ideas.  But those ideas are completely overshadowed by his promoting negative social pressure.

He spent a lot of time comparing fat shaming to smoking shaming.  He also tried to address what he views as the reasons other people do not think fat shaming will work.

Why is obesity said to be different from smoking? Three reasons are common: it is wrong to stigmatize people because of their health conditions; wrong to think it will work well, or at all, with obesity; and counterproductive with the obese because of evidence that it worsens rather than improves their condition. Ethically speaking, the social pressures on smokers focused on their behavior, not on them as persons. Stigmatizing the obese, by contrast, goes after their character and selfhood, it is said, not just their behavior. Stigmatization in their case also leads demonstrably to outright discrimination, in health care, education, and the job market more generally. The obese are said to be lazy, self-indulgent, lacking in discipline, awkward, unattractive, weak-willed and sloppy, insecure and shapeless, to mention only a few of the negative judgments among doctors and nurses.

These are the wrong reasons.  I am not saying that he does not have a point with some of these reasons, but he is missing the bigger point.

The differences between smoking and eating are this.   One, we need to eat to live.  People need to consume calories, protein, vitamin rich food every day or we starve.  We do not need to smoke to live.  Two, smoking affects the health of the larger community through second-hand smoke.  Obesity generally only affects the health of the obese person unless that person is pregnant or may become pregnant.  Also, there is no evidence that social shaming and ostracization keeps people from gaining weight or makes fat people lose weight.  It only makes them feel bad about themselves and encourages fat discrimination.

Finally, we will never really find a way to combat obesity in this country as long as many people live in poverty, lack access to healthy food, and lack access to health care.  Also, as long as losing weight is seen as part of the “diet industry” and a way for business to make money off of people who want nothing more than to be healthy we will not adequately be able to address the obesity problem.  People need real knowledge on how to become and stay healthy.

I have no problem with some amount of social pressure to encourage people to be healthier.  I just think that the pressure needs to be positive and encouraging not shaming and negative.  I think most people want to be healthy.  Most every woman I have ever met has dieted or tried to change their diet to lose weight and improve their health.

I imagine that on many issues concerning obesity, Mr. Callahan and I are much closer together than we are apart.  I just cannot agree with his fat-bullying campaign.

What we do not want to do is create a world where it is OK to harass fat people and create such stress that it drives many people into eating disorders to live up to negative social pressure to meet seemingly untenable goals set by people who do not have their best interest at heart.

Wait…what?

Could Not Have Said it Better Myself

A few days ago, I talked about my feelings of anger over the cruel things that have been said about me in the past because of my weight.  I talked about how angry I was at myself for internalizing these criticism when I know better.

I saw this video today on Facebook in which this news anchor takes to task someone who sent her a very rude email about her weight.  She’s my new hero.  Take that mean people.

Seriously, though, I think we need to change the dialogue about weight and health issues.  The bottom line is nobody knows what is going on in someone else’s life.  The news anchor may have a medical condition or be on medication which affects weight.  Maybe she is perfectly happy with her weight.  Maybe she is working with her doctor to help her lose weight.  The point is, it is nobody’s business.

I stand by the statement that what someone else says about you says more about them than you.