It’s important to recognize the effects that bullying has on children and adults. Here’s model and body positive advocate Nedra Phillips’ story…
When we see you, we see a powerhouse and confident woman, so no one would believe you were a victim of bullying. How old were you when you first experienced bullying and how did it make you feel?
I was about 8-9 years old, was an only child and wanted friends. My aunt was living with my mom and I at the time. I really don’t know what actually started it. I remember my mom used to buy me nice toys/games and there were a couple of girls that I thought were my friends, However, they would come to my house and break all my stuff; one game in particular, I remember it was called Speak and Spell.
I would walk to the bus stop and the kids in the neighborhood would call me a black chow (which is a dog) and waited there for me with brass knuckles to fight me. After school, two other girls from the neighborhood chased me home and tried to kick my mom’s door down so my aunt had to start walking me to the bus stop. One day I got tired of being bullied and started fighting back, which wasn’t good because I got into fights growing up.
In what other ways did you experience bullying?
Once I started defending myself, the bullying stopped. Fighting is not the answer but for me, at that time, I felt I had to defend myself.
Even as adults we still deal with the affects of bullying – how did the bullying affect you as an adult and how were you able to deal with it?
As a adult, I’ve experienced a different type of bullying, which happened in the workplace. I’m known to be outspoken and will speak up for myself, which labeled me as being confrontational at work. I was inappropriately touched by my immediate supervisor. I felt so uncomfortable and didn’t want to seem difficult, so I didn’t report it right away. It wasn’t until after my supervisor started underhandedly harassing me in front of my coworkers, that I finally reported the situation to Human Resources.
I told them everything that was happening to me, and their reaction was not what I expected! I was told that I should have spoken up earlier and they felt that the only reason that I was disclosing this information later was because I was mad. Since I didn’t speak up sooner, Upper Management told me I had lost my investigation/case. However, they told me: “I didn’t lose because he will never be in my personal space again.” However, that wasn’t true. They kept me working under his supervision until he left the company shortly after.
What is your advice to parents whose children are being bullied?
If your child is being bullied, it’s okay to talk about it with them and keep a close eye on your child’s behavior. They could be feeling alone and embarrassed, and for them, it seems weak to go home and tell their parents. Reach out to counselors, principals, teachers and bus drivers. Be involved and know what’s going on. Let your child know that you support them, love them and will protect and provide them with a safe haven. The sad thing is that bullying can lead up to long-term depression, anxiety and even death.
What words of comfort can you express to your teenaged self?
Words of encouragement for my teenage self would be that we were all made different. Regardless of your differences, you are extremely beautiful, perfectly flawed and all. Don’t let anyone ever make you feel less than that . Be fearless and always aim for the top.
Confidence is a journey. How do you embrace your body and soul?
Staying true to myself, believing in what I want and doing what you love.