While we were on SBS a few weeks back, we listened patiently as 3 obese girls told us how they were bullied every single day. When we asked them to simply walk us through the last time it had happened, which must have been that day, their answer was a very aggressive “People never say anything outwardly, it’s implied by the way they look at us. You’ve never been overweight, have you? We're always being stared at, especially from the bus.”
Earlier that day, we went for a walk through Kings Cross, the red light district of Sydney. As we walked through, thinking about all the stories of murder and organised crime, we got this feeling that everyone was watching us, even though they weren’t.
We walked past a bus stop as the passengers were getting on and off. I looked up to the big windows and felt that everyone had been looking at me. I remember thinking to myself “Why are they looking at me? I must look like a tourist…”
Granted, I was pushing a pram, but looking back, I ask myself; What else was there for the bus passengers to look at?
If you catch a bus to work every day, you don’t look at the other passengers, you look out the window. If it’s the same route you go on everyday, the scenery doesn’t change but the people do. So you look out at all the people.
I pressed those girls on SBS to please give me a real example of bullying, but they couldn’t, instead calling me a bully for asking. In my mind, I was asking because I wanted to help them overcome these cowardly bullies, but it seemed that they expected me to bully them, so that is how they heard it.
I really genuinely wanted to know; What do people say or do that would turn the source of the bullying into the perceived solution? What would someone have to do in order for an overweight woman to eat her way to obesity.
You see, I believed that something really, really cruel and nasty would do it. I pictured a bunch of thugs with box cuts wearing overalls poking them with broomsticks in an alleyway, laughing and pushing them around as they force fed them Mars bars.
I really imagined it would be something like that, but their answers were as evasive as the stares of the bus passengers. You see, if they had been horribly bullied, we would have a solution, we would be able to help them to stop destroying their lives with food, simply by confronting the bullies.
These poor girls couldn’t pinpoint even one time that they had been the victim of confronting bullying. All the bullying they had endured had been “the stares and muffled conversation of others”.
So maybe that is the problem that needed to be addressed for these girls, “nobody cares about me.” I know a psychologist who believes that people let themselves go, until they get to a point of body composition that is unremarkable - not quite unhealthy, but not healthy either. Once this tipping point is reached, they can go one of two ways, lose weight or put on a lot of weight. In both situations, the emotional driver is that they want to become noticeable again.
And that’s a complex issue, with a simple solution. But here it is. People on a bus (and anywhere) have to look somewhere. And when they look at you, they are just looking at you. When they don’t look at you, they are not ignoring you. They are not bullying you or judging you. In fact, nobody gives a shit about you. They only care about one thing. Themselves.
But that, my friend, is universal. Nobody cares about anybody they don’t know. In fact, most people don’t care about people they do know, beyond what they get out of the relationship.
This is some real crazy shit I know, but think about your spouse/partner even, what do you love about them? Is what you love about them making you feel good? Hell yes, it does, you love them because they make you feel good. You benefit from the relationship. As soon as people stop benefiting from a relationship, they say the relationship has gone sour.
Now don’t be embarrassed, because it’s the same for your spouse. They love you because you make them feel good. They get a benefit out of you. Great relationships are built on mutual benefit.
It’s not just you and your spouse, it is everybody. Human nature, we are wired for benefit. We care about someone until the benefit stops. It’s like the person who quits her job then never talks to her work “mates” again. The benefit (income) has stopped, so she no longer has to care about the people.
I could go on and on, but that’s not the point. Once you get over the initial earth shaking shock if this realisation, you’re in for a real treat. Like “the matrix”, you get to see the hidden lines that tie people together. You get to know what everyone gets from everyone else.
You didn’t think we would end up here did you? LOL. I promise we’ll cover real bullying in another chapter… but for now...