“One's dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.” -Michael J. Fox
Although it is usually meant as a joke, teasing can be damaging in so many ways. As part of being short, I was a late bloomer and therefore did not have much hair on my legs in middle school. I remember that one of the school jocks, named D.J., thought it would be funny to ask me whether I shaved my legs. This was a no-win type of question—if I lied and said that I did shave my legs, he would tease me for being a girl. If I admitted that I didn’t shave my legs, it was like I was admitting that I wasn’t a true man. Not only would he repeatedly ask me this question, but he also got several of his jock friends to ask the same question, adding to my humiliation.
Those we interviewed described how the teasing they experienced and some of the demeaning names they were called damaged their self-esteem. They described how sometimes they weren’t even safe within the walls of their own home and how some of the most painful teasing came from family members. Many of those we interviewed described facing repeated teasing fatigue. Some even described getting fed up with all the teasing and consequently losing their temper.
The rest of this post has now been published in my book Standing up for Standing Out: Making the most of Being Different in Kindle or hard copy.The book includes experiences from 74 people I interviewed who share their struggles and coping strategies on the topics of relationships, belonging, standing out, self-acceptance, working against labels, gaining understanding and compassion, and personal growth. Check it out!
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” -Eleanor Roosevelt