A while ago I stumbled across a forum, called ‘Trash A Guru’ where women were ranting about YouTube makeup bloggers and it got me thinking about women and bullying. Comments such as: “I think she is one of the ugliest females to walk this earth,” and “When I get sad about my looks, I go and watch her videos,” are there in abundance. Even a blogger’s personal choices on having children were questioned, which made me feel physically sick. “Well, I can see why she wouldn’t want any (kids). She doesn’t want to share her husband’s money with the kid,” or “She might be afraid they look like her.” Utterly horrifying right?
Bullying is rife on the internet, but it starts at school for most of us. I remember girls calling me an ‘ugly witch’ and spending some nights in tears with my mother trying to console me. I could never understand why people would say such hurtful things. It took me a long time to get over those nasty words.
Sadly, technology has made communication faster, easier and global. And it’s done the same thing for bullying. Children can’t escape it because it’s right there in their inbox, on their phone, or all over their social media pages. A new app, Yik Yak lets people share their thoughts with complete anonymity, which is even more dangerous for cowardly bullies. I was pleased to see that Auckland girls’ school Diocesan has banned Yik Yak as as a result of a student-led campaign to stop bullying on the platform. According to a news article on stuff, House captain Monica Ah-Young said the platform became like a “gossip column”, with students saying horrible things about other people and other schools.
Now that I have children I wonder how my partner and I will protect them from the bullies they will encounter in every step of their life. As a parent, how would my comfort ever counter negativity from their peers?
As a beauty blogger, I have worried about being a kog in a machine that puts so much focus on women’s self image, but I really don’t think lipstick is our problem. When I worked as a makeup artist, women would arrive shy and nervous, and leave with a swing in their step and a grin on their faces, sometimes even a tear of joy. That was powerful stuff. I found it humbling to brighten someone’s day with a dash of lipstick. I still do.
“Comparison is the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt
The truth is there is nothing authentic or powerful in putting other women down, or placing a value on ourselves based on how much ‘better’ we think we are than other women, or how much ‘better’ other women may be than us. Partially, this is because we can’t win. None of us. Not those in line to the throne, not celebrities, and certainly not little you and me. Not those of us with curves (who are sometimes ‘real’ and at other times ‘fat’) or those of us who are thin and sometimes fashionable and other times ‘not a real woman’.
Studies show it takes around five compliments to reduce the impact of a single put down. That’s an incentive to compliment more isn’t it? Criticising ourselves and others isn’t good for anyone. I think we’d all benefit from trying harder to celebrate each other’s differences and successes. Pay ourselves compliments and pay each other compliments. Stop rushing to judge others. Turn a jealous thought into a positive. Most importantly, why don’t we just give ourselves and other women a damned break? As someone once said, ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.’ If we want our daughters to grow up with a healthy attitude about themselves and about the women in their lives, it has to start with quitting this mean girl mentality. We’re better than that.