Created by susan on 2019-05-14 14:58:27

I adore the musical “Phantom of the Opera” which takes place in a Parisian opera house and the character who plays Phantom hides behind his mask that disguises his scarred face and shame. When Christine, the lovely female vocalist and actress removes his mask he becomes angry and you can see the sadness in his eyes. Is it possible that many of us disguise our emotional pain and suffering because we have been a victim of body shaming and/or body bullying? It is a cruel and unkind act and a behavior that has to stop! People who bully or body shame others may hide behind the mask of social media and make critical statements about others and displace their emotional suffering upon others. 

If you have seen the series Dirty John on Bravo produced by Connie Britton is it an extreme illustration of a case of bullying. Imagine what a bully looks like behind his/her mask of wanting to taunt or terrorize you? Take a snapshot of the bully in your mind’s eye and reframe the way you see them. According to the research, a bully can psychologically project their insecurities and vulnerabilities onto their victims. Studies have shown that envy and resentment are the motives and there is a mixed bag in terms of their self-esteem; some are arrogant and narcissistic and some may use their bullying as a tool to conceal their shame or anxiety or boost their self-esteem and by demeaning others they feel empowered.

Psychologist Roy Baumeister, PhD. asserts that people who are prone to abusive behavior tend to have an inflated but fragile egos. Bullying may also result from a genetic predisposition or a brain abnormality in the bully. Many have risk factors such as depression, personality disorders, obsessive compulsive tendencies, poor impulse control in regards to anger and use of forces, addiction to aggressive behaviors and a strong need to dominate and control others. However, this does not give a bully or anyone for that matter the right to ridicule or control you!

The song entitled Masquerade has a lyric “paper faces on parade” in Phantom of the Opera which is a cloak that conceals our hurt or anger. My new book which will be released this month Body Esteem: Piece of Cake and Peace of Mind explores methods on prevention and overcoming body bullying and body shaming. You will learn about the various types of bullying from legal bullying, social or relational bullying (which is more common with the female gender), cyberbullying, and gay bullying. Body shaming and body bullying has a dramatic impact on one’s body esteem. Be cognizant of the fact that eating disorders are complex illnesses, and while bullying does not necessarily cause an eating disorder, it could potentially play a significant role in the development of one.

One of my favorite quotes about bullying by Harvey Fierstein says “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” The following are methods to counteract bullying:

  • Address and confront it immediately as it may escalate from verbal bullying to physical bullying which can lead to aggressive behaviors or violent acts.
  • Do not be afraid to seek out help from an authority figure such as a school counselor, director of human resources, or a parental figure to cease the bullying.
  • Examine ways of avoiding the role of victimization by not acquiescing to others, being an approval seeker or passive, but assert yourself and speak up.
  • Strength comes in numbers so do not be a bystander, but come together as a group to confront and address bullying since most bullies are cowards and fear confrontation.
  • Learn methods on how to not be a victim of cyberbullying and vet what you post or allow others to post on social media.

Let’s remove all of the masks which may disguise a bully and make a concerted effort to expose them. There are many organizations that counteract bullying that I list in my book and you can really make a difference not only for yourself, but others that have been bullied. And if you have been victimized learn techniques on how to overcome and prevent this from impacting your self-esteem and body esteem. You deserve to live your life to the fullest without fear, anxiety, or being a victim!