Making an ass out of bullies

‘There’s something you should see.’

One of my friends pointed to the picnic table near the senior study.

It was covered in graffiti – mostly initials in hearts and typical teenage stuff like ‘blah blah was here,’ or ‘blah loves blah forever.’

I wandered over and the crowd around the tabletop parted.

There it was, bigger than the other scrawl, and with that freshly penned brightness.

Samantha Turnbull is a fat ass ****.

To this day, I don’t know what motivated it.

But, it didn’t take long to find out who wrote it.

It was a girl completely off my radar. Someone I don’t think I’d ever had a conversation with. Someone from what you’d call the ‘unpopular group.’ Someone who I can’t even remember the name of now.

And, strangely enough, it was one of the biggest girls in school. A girl whose own ass would’ve easily trumped mine in any ‘whose is biggest’ contest.

As a sort-of payback, I used the incident as inspiration for an art project.

I painted a giant comic strip of how the events unfolded. A picture of me discovering the graffiti, being upset by it, and then amused when I found out who was responsible.

I painted the graffiti ‘artist’ as an ugly, obese figure.

I got a great mark. The teacher loved it. My friends laughed.

But, looking back, I’m ashamed of those paintings.

Instead of handling the insult with grace, I fought fire with a raging inferno.

I body-shamed that girl just like she had done to me – only worse.

If I could go back in time, I’d instead follow Carleigh O’Connell’s lead.

When someone graffitied a cement barrier in her town, labelling it ‘Carleigh’s ass,’ instead of cowering away or attacking back, she photographed herself in a swimsuit posing proudly with the bully’s vandalism.

Her mum said:  ‘she decided that she was going to be stronger than hurtful words on the concrete and that she was going to be proud of her figure.’

The photo has gone viral on social media.

And I bet the vandal is feeling like a bit of a dumb ass.



Comments 7

  1. Bullying is not easy to do deal with, and can be hard for both the bully and the person who is being bullied. At the time you dealt with it in your way, now days you might do things differently.
    I seen the viral picture of Carleigh O’Connell – good on her!

  2. We can only act with the knowledge we have. Perhaps at this time in your life, you didn’t have the capacity to be so generous with your hurt. You do now and are attempting to rectify the possible pain that you may of caused. Stepping forward with awareness and trusting that you are capable of change is what you are attempting to do. This can only be admired.

  3. Can’t kids be so cruel! So sad that we used to tease each other about weight as kids, my sisters and I used to call each other fat to be mean, how stupid! Who cares what size a person is, we’re well and truly over that now – thankfully

  4. I was bullied that many times at school and retaliated with anger and hate. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Being the bigger person is hard especially when you’re hurt. Carleigh is a beautiful exception to the rule.

  5. People can be cruel. So cruel. And for no obvious reason. I’m sorry this happened to you, and while I totally understand your desire to have handled it differently, hindsight is a wonderful thing. Carleigh’s response to such ugliness is truly inspiring. X

  6. Yes Robo! That is something I can talk to my students about next term as well. A brilliant display of resilience. Great post Samantha.

  7. When I was in year 9, I picked on the wrong kid. He had a much bigger, older friend who came up to me at the bus stop and threatened me in front of everyone. I never did it again. I don’t know what compelled me to pick on that kid and now, years later, as a teacher, I still don’t understand bullying. The effects can be soul destroying. Carleigh O’Connell is so strong and so brilliant. Thanks for sharing this – I am definitely going to show my kids next term. X

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