by QuickieChick Laurel House.
Overweight, underweight or just healthy?
Do you think I'm Fat?
Or maybe I appear more Anorexic to you.
How about Gorgeous?
No? Pukishly Hideous?
In one day I was called all four names on my various online outlets- Facebook, YouTube, and my website QuickieChick.com.
Bullying today may be delivered in a different form- social media, and by different types of people- often anonymous, it still cuts just as deeply as "traditional" schoolyard bullying. I know because I have experienced both. Bullying happens to everyone…Regardless of how old you are, what you do, what you say, what you look like, and how "popular" you are.
What's interesting about today's bullies is that many of us bully and don't necessarily mean to or even know it. We have an "eh" meal at a restaurant, then go on Yelp and bash the place to such an extreme you'd think the chef served you rat on a plate. Same goes for YouTube comments. We watch a video that we don't really like or maybe even notice that the person on-camera has a zit or seems to have gained some weight. So what do we do? Bash them.
Is that really bullying? Depends on what's said and in what way. Bullying or not, those words that we throw out... they can feel like a tongue lashing. There are millions of bloggers, writers, and online content producers who are putting themselves out, exposing themselves- ourselves, being vulnerable. It can be scary to do. Especially knowing that we are setting ourselves up to be judged.
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What's interesting is that the comments often say more about the commentor then the person on the receiving end. Something to think about... Before you make comments, think about the long-term ramifications and insecurities that you are injecting into people. But beyond that, think about what you are saying. You might not even mean to be mean, you just feel like you're expressing your opinion- which you have every right to do. But is it necessary, is it constructive, or are you just being mean?
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THE REAL AFFECTS OF BULLYING ON KIDS
In the 8th grade I had to walk around the schoolyard holding my waist band to make sure that I wasn't "pants'd" (having my pants pulled down while walking across the school yard). I made sure that I wasn't alone when walking anywhere for fear of being "trashed" (being thrown in the trash can). I carried important books and anything private in my backpack at all times in fear of my locker being vandalized, its innards strewn throughout the halls. I didn't go out with friends on weekends- really because I didn't have any. And I never told my parents what was going on, but made excuses like "I don't feel well" or "I'm tired" when they wanted to take me to the movies or even shopping. To this day, when someone hangs up on me when I pick up the phone I am sure it's a "prank call" and I have flashbacks to back then. Yes, those playground pranks have long-term and enduring affects.
Bullying was and still is a major problem for millions of young kids. The kids who are often targeted are those who appear "different" in some way- super skinny, late bloomer (like I was), early bloomer, wears glasses, or is overweight. According to MayoClinic, obese children are at greater risk for bullying, as well as depression, asthma and even learning disabilities.
READ: A 10-Year Old with a Better Body than Most 20-Year Old Men?
EXERCISE AND ATHLETICS CAN HELP
Not surprisingly, it's often the overweight kids who don't exercise, don't participate in the group PE activities- the same kids who are often bullied (not that only overweight children are bullied). They prefer to skip the sports, maybe calling them "stupid" or making excuses to get out of them, because exercising in front of other kids can be humiliating, even just wearing gym shorts and a T-shirt can be embarrassing. In fact, according to a study at the University of Florida, bullying is a major reason why overweight children choose not to exercise. But avoiding the exercise of course isn't the answer either. Exercise and being part of a sports team can help stop the cycle of bullying by: kids playing soccer
Increase a child's self esteem
Boost their ego READ: 5 Ego-Boosting Exercises
Make them feel good at something
Have them feel like they are "part of a group"
Improve social skills
Strengthen the mind and body
Give them someone to look up to like their coach or older kids on the team
THE COACHES ROLE
A recent Dateline NBC piece, however, showed that the coach's attitude plays an integral role in bullying on sports teams. In the case studies, the coach played a role by:
-When the coach ignored bullying all together, the bullying occurred behind his back.
-When the coach put bad players down (a form of bullying in itself) in front of the team, the bullying occurred in front of and behind the coach's back.
-When the coach was proactive and addressed bullying before it happened, making a statement to the team that bullying and putting others down is not permitted, the bullying was less likely to occur.
THE PARENT'S ROLE
Parent's are also role models when it comes to athletics. Your child (whether they admit it or not) looks up to you and your attitude about exercise and weight loss will have an effect on your child's interest in athletics and exercise as well as their attitude towards weight loss and health. While genetics does play a role, it's not just genetics. It's often environment. Obese parents tend to have overweight children because of the food choices available in the home, family activities (watching TV vs going on a hike or playing Frisbee), and attitude in general. Be a role model parent and be an example that fitness is healthy. Competition is fine if it doesn't teeter into the side of- yes, bullying. Games like dodge ball- elimination games- can make kids with lower self-esteem even more self-conscious and bullied. Be aware of your child's abilities, likes, and interests. Does your child prefer group sports like baseball and volleyball or one-on-one activities like tennis and bicycling.
If your child is big into TV or videogames, introduce them to fitness video games for wii or xbox (like Your Shape Fitness Evolved). Get the whole family involved and encourage health at home. It's the first step to health at school. Exercise might not stop your child from being bullied, but it can help.
Laurel (want more? download the FREE QuickieChick Guide: Fit to Flirt e-book)
Laurel House is a lifestyle author, expert, writer, personal trainer and the "QuickieChick." Her "quickies" are all about making the most out of every moment- whether it's a saddlebag-burning "Quickie Workout in Bed," a metabolism-boosting "Bites with Benefits" meal, or how to get a $150 spa-quality skin peel out of a $1 tomato and lemon at-home Refrigerator Facial. Her YouTube videos have received over 6 million views and now you can get even more Quickie Tips in her new book "QuickieChick's Cheat Sheet to Life, Love, Food, Fitness, Fashion and Finance on a Less than Fabulous Budget"(St. Martin's, May 2012).