The fatosphere lit up like a dynamite-encrusted birthday cake last week when a CBS anchor, Jennifer Livingston, addressed on air a man who wrote her a letter chastising her for setting a bad example for viewers. Her transgression? Being too fat. Her on-air response was intimate, eloquent, and powerful. She spoke of the pain his message had caused her and urged other victims of bullying to honor their own strength and worth.
Shortly thereafter, Ragen Chastain, of Dances with Fat acclaim, started the Better than the Bullies Campaign, which includes videos and letters from victims of weight bullying to their victimizers. As she writes on the site, “We are standing up, we are fighting back, we are better than the bullies.”
Like most fat kids, I was bullied during my school years. Because I support Ragen, because this is National Anti-Bullying Month, and because I kinda like me and feel somewhat eager to share the good feelings, I made my own video. My eternal thanks to Kris Owen, artist and future-PR-Guru, who slapped the video together; truth told, I just sat there and held up cards while she did all the work.
And by the way, I don’t want to imply I think bullying is confined to childhood; heck, I believe it just becomes more nuanced as we age. Nonetheless, and while others and I face subtler forms of –isms every day, middle and high school were some of the most painful years for me. Below is my message to my own bullies and, I hope, anyone who has ever abused another.