Bullying Continues.... From Playground to Cyberspace

By QuickieChick Laurel House

A girl getting bullied"When are you going to wake up and realize that you are a fraud who hasn't and never will amount to anything, and that your parents are ashamed of you? Why don't you just give up?"

"You look like you were just f****d in a barn you're so trashy."

"Your skin is seriously so disgusting I just threw up in my mouth."

"She's just a dumb bimbo blonde who probably had everything handed to her and screwed every guy on the football team. Why would anyone follow her advice?"

"I can't believe you're trying to tell people how to work out. Have you looked at yourself you fat cow?"

…That's just a taste of the online bullying that I get from putting myself out on YouTube and posting my articles, videos and advice on websites.

Christopher DornerBullying doesn't just happen on the playground. It doesn't just happen to kids. The culture of bullying continues at work, amongst "friends," and online. In fact, bullying has been blamed for several recent deaths- both suicide and murder, most recently 22-year old Fashionista Ashley Riggitanowho jumped off a bridge after being bullied on Facebook, and "cop killer" Christopher Dorner who claimed that he was bullied at work.

Both in-person and online, bullies tend to band together, creating hierarchical packs that are incited to go after certain people for little to no reason- anything from being ugly, fat, skinny, gay, nerdy, pretty, weird, different, opinionated, new, or just because the bullies are bored. Though the threat of immediate physical harm isn't generally a concern with cyber-bullying, the emotional tormenting can be even more intense. Like wild hyenas on a feeding frenzy the bullies attack from all sides, sometimes using facts about you found on the internet as fuel, names of your parents and close friends posted on your Facebook page, or just the shield of the computer screen to pummel you senseless.

On numerous occasions, I have been at the center of one of those frenzied attacks. My "Quickie" fitness, food, and dating advice videos are up on my personal website and YouTube channel, as well as on several other channels, garnering over 10 million views. I am a regular blogger and vlogger for a handful on lifestyle websites. I have Facebook and Twitter pages where I share photos and daily musings. I am also a recurring expert on E! News and my recent book "QuickieChick's Cheat Sheet" has received extensive television and print media attention. In other words, I put myself out there in various capacities. Which I realize translates to opening myself up to criticism. But sometimes those criticisms hit home and hit hard.

Is your child a cyber-bully?My last beat down was on one of websites where I am a regular vlogger/blogger. I expressed an opinion on dating- a post that I called "Screwing The (dating) Rules." A few readers commented with high praise, thanking me for making them feel less alone. And then one of the bullies chimed in about what a "trashy w***e" I am and that I'm "your typical dumb blonde who thinks she's hot, but she's not." Soon, another bully expanded on the first's opinion of me. Comments continued for several hours, and it was clear that most of the commenters hadn't read or watched the post at all, but were simply joining in on "the fun." I watched, and read, and cried, feeling like a sheet hanging outside on a clothes line, shredded to the point of fringe. Finally I couldn't take it anymore and I took it down. A few minutes later a message that was sent through my website popped up in my inbox. It was from one of the ring leaders who wanted to let me know that I couldn't hide from the truth by taking down the article, and went on to elaborate on what he thought about me. For some reason I thought that if I could just explain myself, without his gang around him, he might see a different side of me- the real side of me. So I responded. But I wasn't nasty. I didn't lash out. I did the opposite- I was vulnerable. I told him how hurt I was. That I didn't have it "so easy" as he had suggested, and that life wasn't "handed to me," as my appearance let on. I told him I cried. And I told him a little about my past…

Within an hour, I received a very long response, too long to publish here, but here is a portion of what he said:

"Laurel, I am ashamed to admit that my attack on you was completely unwarranted.

I said terrible, hurtful things about you, in the replies to your current article. Your behavior in your video is not bizarre or terrible. You appear to be a woman who embodies many youthful characteristics, in her personality. What is wrong with being bubbly and effervescent and perky? Naturally, I chose to attack, and call that immature. And, you are actually a very beautiful woman, who seems to have taken good care of her appearance and her health.

I am offering you my sincere apology. But, I do not expect you to forgive or forget. You can't just slap someone in the face, and then expect them to accept an apology.

But, in the future keep one thing in mind, Laurel. The world is filled with hate and misery and rage and intolerance. And, that means that you can expect a small percentage of people to do exactly as I did, if not worse. When you invite comments in a public forum, from the anonymity of the internet, you are opening yourself up to a world of lunacy and anger.

Goodnight, Laurel House! (you're a really nice little quickie-chick)

Since that email, he has actually defended me a few times when other bullies have tried to gang up on my blog and vlog posts. I felt, oddly, protected by him.

lockersAs I said to the bully turned cyber-bodyguard, I haven't always had it so easy. Despite being raised in an upper middle class household in West Los Angeles, I was so badly bullied in the 8th grade that I joined a gang for protection. I was a late bloomer, awkward, and very short- which automatically made me bait for bullying. One day, I arrived to school and saw "bitch" scribed in my locker. The door was open and everything from within was strewn through the hall. Apparently I upset some of the girls and they decided to turn against me. My world changed.

I had to walk around school holding the waist band of my pants to make sure that I wasn't "pants'd" (having my pants pulled down while walking across the school yard). I was careful not to be caught alone when walking anywhere for fear of being "trashed" again (being thrown in the trash can). I carried important books and anything private in my backpack at all times in case my locker was vandalized. I didn't go out with friends on weekends because of the daily calls threatening "if you leave your house we'll kick your ass. If you tell your parents, we'll kill you."

Laurel House soft to hardSoon, I felt I had no choice but to join a gang for protection. After a while I started dating one of the main members. He was nice to me at first. Until he wasn't. That's when I left the gang, told the truth to my parents, and was transferred to a private school for fear that I would be killed if I continued onto the local public high school.

To this day, wrong numbers and hang ups scare me, I don't wholly trust women, and I often feel like an outsider. Yes, those playground pranks have long-term and enduring affects.

And here's what's interesting about today's techno age: some the girls who bullied me, who clearly have zero idea what an impact they had on my life, have Facebook friended me! The gang member ex-boyfriend did too. He wanted to see me and "make things right." He asked to see me so he could apologize in person. Because I knew it was time to finally make peace with what he did to me 20 years ago, I saw him and confronted him- in a nice and adult way- telling him how he affected my life. How he affected the way I view love and sex and power and trust and relationships. When I told him how I felt, he cried, and then asked me to marry him, so that he could make it right. I said "no." But it was oddly empowering and I forgave him.

Bullying may have hurt me- physically and emotionally, but I have not allowed the pain to kill my spirit or determination to both show "them," and inspire, enlighten, motivate, help, encourage, uplift, or just say "hey, I get you. I've been there too. You're not alone" to every other girl, woman and chick who has experienced bullying or just simply feeling insecure. I have learned a lot of lessons the hard way. And now I teach them. I have become empowered by the pain. Because I firmly believe that the harder you slam a ball into the ground, the higher it bounces back up... A divorce, a breakup, losing a job, or just feeling seriously down can ground you, rough you up a bit, leave calluses on your feet and grit under your finger nails. But more than that, it leaves you wiser and stronger next time... Life is about experiencing opposites isn't it?


Laurel HouseLaurel House is a LifeStylist, Dating Expert, 4x published Lifestyle Author, Personal Trainer, and nationally recognized Print and Online Magazine Writer covering travel, relationships, healthy food and fitness (New You, Women's Health, First for Women, Men's Journal, Yahoo! Shine, Elegant Bride, Fit, Spa, Fit Yoga, Playboy, etc). Beyond writing, she has appeared as an expert on television morning shows including E! News, Weekend TODAY, The Daily Buzz, Better.TV, Good DayLA, CBS, Fox, NBC, and ABC Morning News shows both locally and nationally, and her YouTube videos have received over 10 million views. Her 4th book "QuickieChick's Cheat Sheet to Life, Love, Food, Fitness, Fashion and Finance on a Less than Fabulous Budget" was published by St. Martin's in May 2012.