“am i pretty or ugly?”

The following videos are posted by very young teenage girls looking for validation from strangers online in the face of negative comments about their appearance… There are MANY, MANY videos like this on Youtube – it’s become a strange sort of meme.

The exact motives for making these movies are mixed, but if you read the comments under the videos, you’ll see how mean people can be under the cloak of anonymity – meaner, probably, than the unkindness at school that the girls are hoping to drown out with the “objective” opinions of strangers online, for this is what all the videos have in common.

I don’t think I will ever understand how hurting someone else, even if it is because you yourself are hurting, could help you feel better at all… which I guess is what always made me an easy target for bullies myself. I don’t retaliate because it doesn’t make sense to me to do so. That’s lethal bully-bait when coupled with the conviction to stand up for oneself, to speak back. I hit people teasing me a few times when I was a kid, mainly to get them out of my face. It made me feel sick to do that, and it didn’t help. Mostly I would just try to shout them down.

My mom’s mantra, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me,” roared uselessly.

It took me years and years to figure out how futile and dangerous it is to try to shout, to speak, to whisper back, to appeal to sense and truth, to reason with cruelty. It doesn’t work, because cruelty isn’t rational. It is senseless. Cruelty is fed by any and every reaction. These girls won’t realise until the damage is already done and they have lost their voices completely. It hurts to watch them exposing themselves to so much pain.

“I feel like I could just go away and never come back. I feel like I’ve been standing all these years and keep getting torn down… Deep down inside, all girls know that other people’s opinions don’t matter, but we still go to other people for help because we don’t believe what people say.”
~ Faye (13). More on her story HERE.

helge janssen on the psychology of bullies

“Bullying represents a negative form of seeking attention. The bully is an excessively damaged person asking for help in a devastating way. While compassion is a fantastic quality, our society does not have the tools to deal effectively with this scourge. As a victim of bullying throughout my educational career (including, though less frequent, at college) I had absolutely no support from anybody. People thought bullying was ‘funny’. The bully has no control of his bullying and is not going to stop because he is shown ‘compassion’.

“The bully seeks power from the very person most likely to let him have it! It is a very weird psychology. However society does not have any mechanism (certainly not in schools, although there are pockets of greater awareness) to check this hurtful and harmful behaviour because the bully will find a way outside of school environment.

“Usually, the only thing the bully will listen to is if he is challenged directly. Sadly this challenge may come at a time when the VICTIM has lost rationale and has become desperate. Domestic violence is another form of bullying. Once a victim is forced into silent suffering the results become tragic.

“Being bullied taught me how to become INVISIBLE and it took about 10 years of my life AS AN ADULT to work my way out of this ‘death’. This was my only defence. In hind sight this has given me an invaluable tool: I am now an eternal REBEL.”

~ Helge Janssen

Written in response to THIS OPINION PIECE on bullying, published today on the Daily Maverick website.

john stevens on the dynamic which underlies bullying

“Bullying is about rejection and belonging. It stems from the need for a place in the world and the feeling that one has been denied that need. When young people feel properly welcomed in the world, when they feel their gifts being led out, they do not feel the need to claim their place through violence or meanness. When a person bullies, or shoots his bully, it shows us that we did not provide that young person the opportunity to grow his or her gifts.

“Instead of recognising this, our emotional reaction is often to try to reclaim control, to clamp down. It is a reaction that feeds and deepens the roots of alienation in young people – roots that grab in the belly and grow through the heart until they bloom red in schools. In the United States, where I am from, we have experienced school violence at heretofore unknown levels. We have often responded in all the wrong ways and have managed to turn many of our schools into places that more closely resemble prisons than places in which the inherent gifts of each individual person are ushered into the world.”

Read the rest of this opinion piece HERE.

amanda todd (15)

“I’m struggling to stay in this world, because everything just touches me so deeply. I’m not doing this for attention. I’m doing this to be an inspiration and to show that I can be strong. I did things to myself to make pain go away, because I’d rather hurt myself then someone else. Haters are haters but please don’t hate, although I’m sure I’ll get them. I hope I can show you guys that everyone has a story, and everyones future will be bright one day, you just gotta pull through. I’m still here aren’t I ?”
~  Amanda Todd (on making the above video, posted in September 2012)

RIP Amanda Todd: November 27, 1996 – October 10, 2012

Video posted four hours before her suicide.

alice (jan svankmajer, 1988)

In Alice, a little girl follows a white rabbit into a world where nothing is quite what it seems. Where Czech surrealist Švankmajer’s Alice differs from other adaptations of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is that it explores the book’s darker side as well, thereby remaining faithful to the tone of uneasy confusion that pervades the original story. A live-action Alice (Kristyna Kohoutova) inhabits a Wonderland that teems with threatening stop-motion characters. Švankmajer’s visual canniness and piercing psychological insight permeate the film with a menacing dream-logic. Curiouser and curiouser.

Watch the rest of the film here!