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Bullying and it's long term consequences

As it is Anti-Bullying week, second year Law student Matthew Lu shares his experience as a victim of bullying and how it warped his perception of himself.

By Matthew Lu, Second Year Law

As it is Anti-Bullying week, second year Law student Matthew Lu shares his experience as a victim of bullying and how it warped his perception of himself.

“You’re just so big, your parents must be so proud” Ms. Kozibrocke, my second grade teacher told me as she smiled brightly.
“I wish my boy would be just as big as Matthew” Auntie Lee said to my mom over Chinese New Year dinner.
“Matt, why are you so big?” my friend, Michael said to me as we were playing on the swings.

When I look back at my experience with bullying, all I have visions of are the people around me, whether they be close to me personally or not, calling me “big”. It was supposed to be something that was looked at as a good thing. It was supposed to be something that I should take as a compliment, something that I should be proud of and wear like a badge on my chest. Well, all my life it has served as a badge that I have wanted to rip off my chest. I was tall, but also overweight as a kid. It hurt, it hurt so much to see my regular friends eat the same foods as me and magically appear to be what society deemed to be “regular” and “normal”. I didn’t understand what made my body so different that having the same McDonalds fries as my friends yet I had an overwhelming gut. That’s when the word 'big' changed for me and would never be looked at the same way again.

"Yo mama is so stupid that she got fired from the M&M factory for throwing away all the W's."
“Yo mama is so ugly that when she looks in the mirror, the reflection looks back and shakes its head."
"Yo mama is so fat that her bellybutton gets home 15 minutes before she does."
“Ha, like Matthew’s?”

I was enrolled in a school that didn’t have the best reputation and was definitely not one of the better off schools. That’s where the bullying started. It was hard, being put in an environment where I was jabbed and reminded of all my flaws that made me already insecure to begin with. I felt like it was something that I didn’t have control over, something that would plague me in life for no apparent reason. I wondered if I had done something bad in my previous life, maybe I was a legendary mastermind criminal?

“Matthew, remember the acronym! SSS, Smaller portions, Seconds only after 20 minutes of no eating, Secondary, eating is a secondary concern” My pediatrician lectured me.
“Hey Matthew, I’m going for my check up with Dr. Poon to see how the new diet is going. It’s a new diet where I’m not supposed to eat any carbs” My mom told me before leaving the house.
“Have you tried starving yourself?” my friend, Robert asked.

When middle school and high school came around I started trying to take measures into my hands. When I say that I mean I went on a bunch of Yo-Yo diets that weren’t sustainable in the slightest and always bounced back to where I was at before, if not worst. At this point I was at my lowest. It’s funny because when I think about it, at this point no one was actively bullying me. There was no calling of names, mean jabs, or anything of that nature. It just became so engrained at me from a young age and my surroundings that I became obsessed with noticing all my imperfections. I started to become my own worst enemy. I was the one that was being toxic and unhealthy for myself. I picked at every little detail, “oh my hair is too floppy”. “This blazer makes me look fat”, “My lips are too full”. It became so bad that my obsession was not even just on my weight but transcended to beauty in general.

“ Hmmm, I need to go to the gym every day. Only one rest day a week” I stroked my stomach unhappily.
“I don’t know if I should join Kickboxing, how about if I can’t keep up with them? That’d just be embarrassing” I said to my friend Anita.
“I’m just not what people want” I think in my head as all my friends around me in the club are getting with different people.

Present day Matthew is doing a lot better but, has also come to a sad realization. I realize now that I will never be happy with my body or appearance. I will never be that person that looks at themselves in the mirror and says, “damn looking good”. I’ll get compliments on how I’m looking and my automatic thinking will always default to, “oh they’re just trying to be nice”. It’s something that’s always going to bother me no matter how many “have you loved yourself today?” posters I hang in my room. So, you must be wondering why I wrote this rant. Well, I wrote this to try and let people that don’t have the same experience understand what’s going through the mind of someone that has been bullied and how it effects them in the long term. Just because the bullying stops doesn’t mean our feelings stop. I hope everyone can keep that in mind and understand the impact their actions have on people, no matter how small.

Featured Image: Epigram / Marina Afzal-Khan

Has childhood bullying had a negative impact on you to this day? Comment below or get in touch!

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