This is my shirt today. I’m taking a stand against bullying, mob mentality and the need for our society to pigeonhole us all into neat little boxes.
I know bullying.
I lived through being bullied. A pink shirt day at school wouldn’t have saved me from my tormentors. As a girl I very likely would have had a pink shirt, but on this day the bullies would have found some other way to pick at me. That or there would have been a very brief reprieve from the torment. Ironically had we had pink shirt day two decades ago I wouldn’t have even been at school because I was dealing with the fallout of bullying. I was too scared to even leave my bed, so anxious in fact that mental health professionals had to be brought in.
I watched my own children struggle with bullies, going so far as to remove them from the school because no one from the school system was doing anything.
Today, for those who choose not to wear a shirt, don’t have one, can’t afford one or realized too late what “Pink Shirt Day” is, today isn’t met with “We’ve got this covered” or “Kick bullying to the curb” or any of the other pat bullying phrases. Rather it’s one filled with dread. I don’t need to imagine the inner monologue. I heard it loud and clear and it was originating from the mouths of my children.
“What will my friends think?”
“Everybody will judge me.”
Today instead of teaching my kids that to fit in you have to follow the crowd and wear pink, I’m choosing to lead by example and wearing blue. The conversation about bullying can’t just be a one day thing. It needs to be an everyday thing – from how we deal with disappointments, to how we talk to the coffee shop barista that gets our order wrong.
In my house the conversation about bullying is one that is always open. A day to raise awareness is nice, but when people start being judged because of their lack of participation, the message has been lost.
Instead of Pink Shirt Day how about a “Celebrate Uniqueness” day or how about we do away with days which choose a single issue all together and just act with kindness, integrity, courage and generosity each and every day?