Redhead, Thy Name is Bully
A Guest Post From Tamara Grantham.
Think of a bully.
What does he or she look like?
Red hair? Freckles? Male? A little plump? Thick meaty fists?
Did you think of him, too?
For reasons that baffle me, our society has come to think of bullies as this guy. The big redheaded boy who loves to give swirlies and shove little kids into lockers.
Honestly, I blame Hollywood. How many movies have we seen with this kid? For the sake of this article, let’s call him Billy.
Did Hollywood get Billy’s character right?
In my opinion—no way. Not even close.
When I was in fifth grade, I became a victim of bullying. And Billy was not responsible. Actually, my bullies were two very cute girls who made good grades and were well-loved by all our teachers. Their parents were on the school board. They wore Girbaud and Guess, and made me very aware that I did not. They even came up with a hand signal to let me know that my hair did not look like theirs.
I admit I was a very awkward fifth grader. At that time, I was the tallest girl in my class, and by the time Christmas break came around, I had outgrown all my clothes. But we were poor at the time, so my parents did not go out and buy Guess jeans for me. Instead, they taught me to make do with what I had. And because of that lesson, I got bullied.
That’s been such a long time ago that those raw, painful feelings of inadequacy have faded. I don’t wish any ill-will to the girls who picked on me. I am certain that they didn’t realize the consequences of their teasing.
But the truth is–bullying hurts. And if I took anything out of that fifth grade lesson, it’s that anyone can be a bully. Boys, girls, old, young, me, or you—because bully is not a noun. It’s a verb.
If there’s anything writing has taught me, it’s that we can’t judge a face and know what’s inside. The meanest-looking kids may in fact be very kind. And some of the worst bullying can come from the daughters of the school board members.
I write about a therapist who counsels typical “geeks.” But I also want to convey that these people are real—they may dress awkwardly and be clueless about social cues—but they have real, genuine feelings. And there is absolutely no reason for others to exclude or belittle them for their differences.
Even if it happens to be Billy.
ABOUT TAMARA GRANTHAM:
Tamara Grantham was born and raised in Southeast Texas. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English from Lamar University. After marrying her husband David, she followed him through his training to become a burn surgeon, which consisted of moving from Vidor, Texas to Galveston, Texas, then to Tulsa, Oklahoma, back to Galveston, and they finally settled in Wichita, Kansas. Tamara and David have five active, sweet, and almost always well-mannered children, ages zero to ten years. Their two pets, June–the Jack Russell Terrier, and Chester–a black cat, help to keep the house lively (in addition to the children.)
When Tamara isn’t writing or tending her children, she enjoys taking walks through the woods, eating chocolate, and very infrequently, she enjoys a good night’s sleep.