One day before work I went to the store. I didn’t feel well physically, nor did I feel good about myself in general. As I looked for a new top, a woman approached me. I did not know her. But she began talking to me.
“I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but you need to find a different style top…one less boxy looking. It would make you look much slimmer.”
I felt as though I had just been kicked in the stomach. I knew if I even attempted a response, I would burst into tears. How dare her! What gave her the permission to judge me? I turned and walked away.
Several aisles over I saw the new assistant manager. I gave him the biggest “good morning” I could muster and continued to walk. He called me back to say, “Thank you. You don’t know how much I needed to hear a friendly voice this morning!” Yes, I did!!
Where is that judgmental attitude or critical spirit learned? Far too many little children demonstrate a superior attitude as they play with their peers. By the time those judging children reach the upper grades, their attitudes often are more demonstrative. The system labels them as bullies.
When I first watched young girls turn on each other, I remembered my own school days where I was the victim of verbal garbage. Those were the days when our mothers assured us “Sticks and stones may break our bones but words can never hurt us.” Really? And I fell for that?! Years later I found myself in situations with women who bully. It seemed as though I was a magnet to them…with a label on my forehead that said “Go ahead. Take aim. I’ll keep quiet.”
Have you ever had another woman look you up and down as you were talking? Someday I would like to be brave enough with a rejoinder to ask “Is there something wrong? Do you not approve of something?” Hmmm. Better not use that unless I want to hear the barrage of words telling me what’s wrong!! Or I can turn and walk away with the realization that other woman has the problem…not me.
I have a collection of books all dealing with this problem.
- Mean Girls Grown Up was written by Cheryl Dellasega and she refers to female bullying as “relational aggression”.
- Mean Girls, Meaner Women was coauthored by Dr. Erika Holiday and Dr. Joan I. Rosenberg. “They take a look at hurtful behavior between women from the perspective of both the target and the victim. The authors use groundbreaking brain research to explain why being the target of a woman’s hurtful behavior and being socially excluded can be so excruciatingly painful to women.”
- If you have a young daughter, I highly recommend Queen Bees & Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman. She offers excellent suggestions for daughters and mothers.
Perhaps I should reread my own books as a refresher on how to deal with bullying situations! It was a very hot summer day when I arrived home from a challenging morning with preschoolers. My face was red and gritty from playing out at recess. I pulled into my driveway as a neighbor walked past and I stopped to say hello. She looked me up and down and said, “I think overweight Christians are the epitomy of embarrassment.” Who said she could say that?