Confession time: I used to be a bitch. Call it a phase, teenage angst or just plain jealousy; I was vicious, angry and highly volatile. From peers to teachers, people I knew to people I didn’t, few were spared from a vindictive sneer or malicious comment. Picking people apart and tearing them down, whether to their face or behind their back, made up the majority of conversation. It was funny, right? Wrong. And funnily enough all that negativity failed to cover up the hatred I felt for myself.
Before you roll your eyes, this isn’t a heart wrenching story of redemption nor is it a tragic recount of my life and consequent personal growth (fortunately for you) but to summarise, I’m no longer a complete and utter knob
As unfortunate as it is, I left school four years ago and in doing so assumed I’d left the idiocy and immaturity behind; I should be so lucky. From the pathetic rants at work to jeers in the street, it would appear that not everyone got the memo that spending less time concerning yourself with what others are doing and more time on your own life is not only beneficial to you but to those unfortunate enough to cross your path.
We’ve all seen the film and if you’re anything like me you can quote it too but for all its popularity it seems the underlying message got lost somewhere. I read an article in Grazia magazine this week that left me quite frankly, disgusted. In her weekly column ‘Fiona’s views on the news’, Fiona McIntosh shares her views on a topical issue in an informative yet amusing way. Usually. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that Americans penchant for being able to sue everyone for anything is unnecessary and this apparent new ability to sue for ‘outward appearance’ discrimination borders on ridiculous; as Fiona says, attractiveness is subjective after all. However, my issue isn’t with the ‘law’ and whether or not it is or isn’t a good idea, it’s with Fiona’s views on why she doesn’t agree with it.
I don’t know where to start with this. According to Fiona, it’s not okay to discriminate when it comes to things that can’t be altered, such as race, yet seemingly anything that can be altered is free game. Three guesses as to what should be picked apart: ’22-stone muffin eaters’ because ‘you can control the size of your bottom, you can’t control your race’. As someone who is not only the owner of a big bottom but is also a racial minority, I can assure you abuse is distressing regardless of the form of hatred. More importantly, as a grown woman who by writing a column in a popular magazine has a certain level of responsibility, why is it so hilarious to be a miserable bitch? Now I’m not saying we should all make cakes out of rainbows and smiles, by all means have a giggle over the slightly unhinged people who seem to infiltrate the bus station or share a wince over those who think it’s acceptable to wear Crocs (I’m looking at you, mother) but bullying in any form is not okay.
Inequality is strife, women are still seen as lesser than men, racial minorities are still underrepresented, homophobia and transphobia is an ever present issue and what’s worse is rather than focus of uniting against all forms of hatred, we turn against each other. When it comes to bullying or being bullied, ask yourself ‘why does it matter to me?’ why does someone who’s overweight matter to you? What effect does it have on your life? And don’t give me the bullshit about health, either in terms of caring about theirs or its supposed cost to you. On the other hand, why does it matter to you what some passer by thinks? Don’t give them the satisfaction of putting you down, you don’t know them but more importantly they don’t know you.
Too many people are unhappy, depressed or even suicidal because of what others think or say about them. So the next time you find yourself about to tear someone else down, stop and have a bit of common decency because when it comes down to it, we’re all human and we deserve a bit of fucking respect.