5 things you can do if you are being bullied by a teacher

School can be tough, and sometimes it’s hard to know how to cope or deal with certain situations that arise behind the school gates. If you are being bullied for example, it can often be hard to identify what steps you can take to combat the prejudice you are experiencing. This is especially true when the perpetrator is someone you are supposed to be able to rely on or trust, especially in a position of authority – like a teacher.

If you are being bullied by a teacher you may be unsure of who to turn to for support or what to do next; with this in mind we have compiled 5 tips to help you. Remember that Ditch the Label is always here for you and that you can access further support here.

If you would prefer the easier to read version please click here.

1. Tell someone you trust.

This is a great starting place.

When you’re going through a stressful or difficult situation, it can be hard to find perspective or see things with clarity. Bullying is something that affects the majority of people but worryingly, our research revealed that 45% of those who experience it, fail to report it through embarrassment, fear or a lack of faith in support systems.

If you are experiencing bullying it is important you go through the appropriate reporting channels, even if you are being bullied by a teacher. Your first port of call should be confiding in someone you trust. This could be a friend, another teacher you trust, a parent/guardian/learning mentor or another trusted relative or family friend. You can always join Ditch the Label’s community for tailored advice too.

If somebody is exhibiting threatening behaviour, giving out personal information or giving you the impression that your safety might be at risk, contact the police or a responsible adult immediately.

2. Don’t suffer in silence.

Learning to ask for help is honestly one of the best things you can do for yourself and the younger you learn it the better! Even if you don’t want to report it, it is important you share with someone what you are going through – you shouldn’t go through something like this alone as it is extremely stressful, and can be emotionally draining to endure bullying. This stress can have an impact on all areas of your life, including your mental wellbeing, ability to communicate with others, performance in school, self-esteem and confidence. It is therefore incredibly important that you tell somebody you trust about what you are going through; it doesn’t even have to be an adult – it could be a friend or somebody at Ditch the Label. It is vital, during a traumatic time, that you have a support system and people who you can rely on when you are feeling low, or unable to cope.

3. Keep a record of what is happening.

It’s important to keep a record of what is going on – the more detail the better! Write down dates, times, what happened/what was said. Did anyone else witness it? This evidence will be crucial if you decide to report it.

You usually start the reporting process by speaking to another teacher (some schools have a dedicated anti-bullying member of staff). If this doesn’t solve it then gradually escalate by reporting as follows: Senior teacher (this may be your Head of Year or Department) > Assistant/Deputy Head Teacher > Head Teacher.

It is a good idea to read your school’s Anti-Bullying Policy (this is sometimes included in the Behaviour Policy) to ensure they are following the steps set out in this document. Most schools make this available on their website or you can ask the school office for a copy.

If the situation isn’t resolved, or you are unhappy with the outcome then the next steps are to raise the issue with the school governors (The Board of Governors) > Report the bullying to the Local Education Authority (LEA) > Make a formal complaint to OFSTED (Call 0300 123 1231 or email [email protected]) > Report to The Department for Education.

You can also contact Equality Advisory & Support Service (EASS) on Freephone: 0808 800 0082 or Text Phone: 0808 800 0084. They can advise on equality and human rights across England, Scotland and Wales. This includes discrimination based on unique characteristics such as (but not limited to): race, colour, nationality, religion, belief, disability, sexual identity, gender identity or sexual orientation.

4. Talk to us.

We are a leading global youth charity and we are always here for those who have been impacted by bullying. If you or anyone you know needs help or a push in the right direction, please do not hesitate to get help here.

5. Be brave.

It turns out courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s feeling the fear and still taking the action anyway! That’s why it’s so important we don’t wait until we feel brave enough to share something that is causing us pain. Be brave, seek the help you need. We promise you won’t regret it.

Remember we have a dedicated support community here with mentors that can help you – we’re here when you need us the most.

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  • liverpool play today and PL starts again
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Why you need to stop saying “that’s so gay”

It’s not uncommon to hear the expression “that’s so gay” used as slang to describe something negative, annoying or unwanted.

If you use the term, you might be unaware that every time you call something gay in reference to something bad, you are linking homosexuality with negativity.

Think of it like this: How would you feel if someone was using your first name to describe something sh*tty that had happened? How would you feel if people latched onto the saying and suddenly all around the world, your name was being used to describe bad or annoying events?

Not great I bet. You might even start to feel ashamed of your name, or pretend to others that your name is something else.

Below we have created a little exercise to help hammer home the point – maybe next time you flippantly go to say ‘that’s so gay’, you’ll think of the impact your words might have upon members of the LGBT+ community.

1. *Drops phone in the loo*
Say out loud: “That’s so *insert the name of one of your parents*”

2. Having to get up early for work when it is still dark outside.
Say out loud: “That’s so *insert your BFF’s name*”

3. Getting dumped.
Say out loud: That’s so *insert name of your crush*”

4. Arguing with your best friend.
Say out loud: That’s so *insert your own name*”

5. Failing your driving test.
Say out loud: “That’s so *insert name of your first pet*”

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  • ugly
    i asked one of my friend to be extremely honest w me abt my appearance and he said that i wasn’t very pretty and that kind of broke me bc it’s like adding up yk w the other stuff that people have said, i’m lowkey embarrassed not gonna lie
  • Feeling alone
    I don't really know why but I've been feeling alone and depressed lately. It's not like I'm alone alone but it feels like I am (idk if that makes any sense or not) I talk to people all the time but I don't really want to talk to them if you know what I mean. […]
  • Depressed
    Today I feel like rubbish. Not suicidal just had enough of life. Tired as fuck. Does anyone else feel the pain 😔😞😪😕💔😢
  • What are you dressing up as for hallowen?
    What is everyone going to be for halloween?
  • premier league
    kick off Watford vs Liverpool up the reds #YNWA come on liverpoollll offside oops 🙃 goallllllllll tooooooo liverpolllllllllllllllllll lets gooooooooooooooooooo
  • liverpool play today and PL starts again
    here's who's playing - watford v Liverpool Southampton v Leeds United Norwhich city v Brighton Aston Villa v Wolves Lecister City v Man United Man City v Burnley Brentford v Chelsea

We caught up with Gareth Emery and HALIENE post-launch of SAVING LIGHT

DtL:  Hi HALIENE, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

HALIENE: I’m HALIENE, pronounced HAY-lee-en (rhymes with alien). I have been singing and writing songs since I was a very little girl. Growing up, my mother would often say I sang before I could talk. I grew up in a few places… I was born in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, but when I was 7 years old moved to southern Utah. I lived there until about 14, at which point my mother and I went on the road in pursuit of my music career. I finally settled in Los Angeles a few years later when I signed a major record deal. I got to tour the world with some amazing people, but at the time my project was all soft pop/ adult contemporary. Eventually my love for electronic sounds led me to dance music!

DtL: Have you ever experienced bullying? If so can you tell us what happened?

HALIENE: Yes, I have. Middle school was terrible for me. My music career had me leaving school quite often to perform in Las Vegas and LA. One year I was gone for 100 of the 180 school days! Yet, I still managed to do all my schoolwork in the car while my mother drove me to my performances. The kids in the small town I grew up in didn’t understand why I got to be gone so much. Slowly, I lost almost all my friends. There were times when none of the kids would even stand on the sidewalk if I was on it. There was name-calling and taunting. At one point the most popular girl at school took away all my friends, telling them they had to choose between me or her. I lost almost all my confidence and could barely say “hello” to classmates when I saw them outside of school for those years.

“There were times when none of the kids would even stand on the sidewalk if I was on it”

 

DtL: What advice would you give to those that are being bullied?

HALIENE: As a young girl, my dream was bigger than the tiny world of “school”. I kept my eyes focused on that. My mother saw what was happening to me and told me to “stand up straight, look people in the eye, say hello” and remember how loved I am and how much I am worth. People that bully are only giving back what they carry inside of them, or perhaps reflecting what they have seen in their own home. People that bully are often being bullied even worse by someone else. If you are being bullied you need to find a balance of stating a boundary, standing up for yourself, but also recognising that their negative actions and words are coming from a place of pain in them, not necessarily malice.
Also, it is never you that is really the problem, so don’t let them bring you down! If it happens at school, remember school isn’t the rest of your life. The same people who bullied you when you were young, will look at your success in the future and brag about how they “always knew you’d be successful”. In fact, they might even ask you to sing at their weddings. Yes… that happened to me! Instead of letting the negative energy drag you down, let it propel you. It’s difficult, but keep your head up, keep feeding the dream in your heart and keep your eyes on the future.

[full-width-figure image=”https://www.ditchthelabel.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/haliene.jpg”]

 

DtL: What inspired your track Saving Light? The video’s narrative is also very powerful – what do you hope the video and single will achieve in terms of message?

HALIENE: “Saving Light” was inspired by my own personal journey with pain. When I was seven, I thought that my parents’ divorce would be the most painful thing I’d have to endure. But a few years ago, when I lost both of them to cancer, only six months apart, it utterly destroyed me. My heart and my life were shattered. I was 23 years old and as an only child, all the responsibilities were left to me. I was extremely close with my parents. My mother was everything to me. I talked to her every single day. But that loss was only the beginning. Soon after, the record company I was signed to refused to pay me what they owed. To survive I was forced to work for minimum wage at a retail store in LA, all the while hearing my own songs play on the radio there. Over the following years, I lost relationships, friendships, and the dreams of my career. It seemed like everything was purposefully being stripped out of my life beyond my control, and I was helpless to stop it. There were many times, when I thought about how easy it would be to just leave this world…that there wasn’t much left in it for me anyway. I missed my parents so much, and I felt so alone. Here I was, in the massive city of Los Angeles with my dreams left in ashes.

But that’s when I went to my first dance music festival and things began to change. This was my first real experience of dance music. Having grown up in southern Utah, I’d never been very exposed to it. My mother used to play Delerium and Enigma CDs when I was a kid, but I had no idea there was so much more than that! There was a whole new world, a culture of peace, love and unity. This music, this culture, these people, breathed new life into me. Through the music I found a fresh vision for my life, a new dream. In the times of despair when I didn’t want to be alive anymore, there was always a small voice reminding me just how much I had to be grateful for, how much was ahead of me, how much I still had yet to give, that life had only just begun for me, and that the future was bright. In the dark times, I felt it, like the tiny flicker of a candle – my Saving Light.

“When I didn’t want to be alive anymore, there was always a small voice reminding me just how much I had to be grateful for”

 

I found myself being grateful for every breath in those moments, for my bed, for a good nights sleep, for food, and for people with a smile on their face. The music saved me. The people I met in the culture of dance music saved me. I found a purpose beyond this world, a calling that was higher than just entertainment, to be that same Saving Light for the many others that suffer like I had. With this song, it is my prayer to give back to all those beautiful spirits who loved me and showed me light during my darkest times, to remind those in pain, those who are lost, how much they are really worth, how much they have to be grateful for, and how bright their future is if they never stop reaching for it.

DtL: What has been your recipe for success?

HALIENE: Never. Give. Up. Tirelessly follow your path. Stay positive, always. Treat others with kindness. Own who you are, but never try to sell it. Just be it. Work efficiently, don’t do everything, or you’ll get lost. Find a focused point to work towards, find a hole in the marketplace that only you can fill. And last but not least, have a quiet confidence, a way of being that says you know who you are, what you are worth, and you don’t have to shout it on every street corner. It’s a twinkle in your eye.

DtL: If you could go back in time, what one thing would you tell your younger self?

Gareth: There’s so much, but also, in a way, nothing! If I’d known everything I know now when I was younger, my life would have been very different, and I have no regrets about the lessons I’ve learned in life and the points at which I’ve learned them. That said, if I’d worked out it was OK to be my authentic self earlier, rather than always trying to fit it, I would have saved myself a lot of hassle, and found happiness in my life sooner.

DtL: What motto do you live by?

Gareth: I have many, but the overriding one is a constant desire to improve myself. Whether it’s becoming more efficient, learning new things, making better art, being a better person, having more time for my family, being happier or whatever. We’re all works in progress, and it’s incredible how many things about your life you can change, if you’re willing to work at it. There are a few amazing podcasts that have helped me with this: one is The Tim Ferriss show (and his various books) which I listen to for general life advice, the other is one called MFCEO which is great for giving you a kick back into the world if you’re feeling sorry for yourself.

[full-width-figure image=”https://www.ditchthelabel.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/C36836NUEAAH-Pr.jpg”]

 

DtL: What does the future hold for HALIENE?

HALIENE: So much more exciting music to come! Lots of new inspired releases but also some legendary collaborations. Stay tuned for new tours as well… and definitely some solo HALIENE tracks.

DtL: Why did you decide to team up with Ditch the Label?

Gareth: We knew we had an incredibly powerful song with Saving Light, and wanted to make a music video to accompany it that could make people think, and impact people’s lives in a positive way – rather than your typical music video. Soon, we hit on the concept, but wanted to make sure we addressed the issue in a way that was authentic and sensitive. Ditch the Label were fantastic partners, working with us to make sure the storyline made sense, and being there for people affected by these issues to reach out to.

DtL: Is there anything you would like to add?

HALIENE: May the light that shines in me, also shine in you.

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  • ugly
    i asked one of my friend to be extremely honest w me abt my appearance and he said that i wasn’t very pretty and that kind of broke me bc it’s like adding up yk w the other stuff that people have said, i’m lowkey embarrassed not gonna lie
  • Feeling alone
    I don't really know why but I've been feeling alone and depressed lately. It's not like I'm alone alone but it feels like I am (idk if that makes any sense or not) I talk to people all the time but I don't really want to talk to them if you know what I mean. […]
  • Depressed
    Today I feel like rubbish. Not suicidal just had enough of life. Tired as fuck. Does anyone else feel the pain 😔😞😪😕💔😢
  • What are you dressing up as for hallowen?
    What is everyone going to be for halloween?
  • premier league
    kick off Watford vs Liverpool up the reds #YNWA come on liverpoollll offside oops 🙃 goallllllllll tooooooo liverpolllllllllllllllllll lets gooooooooooooooooooo
  • liverpool play today and PL starts again
    here's who's playing - watford v Liverpool Southampton v Leeds United Norwhich city v Brighton Aston Villa v Wolves Lecister City v Man United Man City v Burnley Brentford v Chelsea

Edyn Jacks talks about why she bullied others

We know from our research that those who bully others have complex issues that are not being addressed elsewhere, and that bullying can also be a learnt behaviour. After all, none of us are born with the ability to draw or sing a song; nor are we born with the ability to discriminate against someone because of the colour of their hair, or their skin or any other unique factor. Unfortunately, instead of taking the time to understand or embrace that difference, some people act negatively towards the unknown.

Here Edyn Jacks talks about what motivated her to bully others.

 

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  • ugly
    i asked one of my friend to be extremely honest w me abt my appearance and he said that i wasn’t very pretty and that kind of broke me bc it’s like adding up yk w the other stuff that people have said, i’m lowkey embarrassed not gonna lie
  • Feeling alone
    I don't really know why but I've been feeling alone and depressed lately. It's not like I'm alone alone but it feels like I am (idk if that makes any sense or not) I talk to people all the time but I don't really want to talk to them if you know what I mean. […]
  • Depressed
    Today I feel like rubbish. Not suicidal just had enough of life. Tired as fuck. Does anyone else feel the pain 😔😞😪😕💔😢
  • What are you dressing up as for hallowen?
    What is everyone going to be for halloween?
  • premier league
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  • liverpool play today and PL starts again
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Our actions define us, and in society, we tend to label people or categorise individuals based upon the behaviours they exhibit. For example, we describe people that play instruments as musicians, those that paint we call artists – and although these particular examples are seemingly harmless descriptors of interests, hobbies and careers – they allow insight into the potency and permanence of a label – after all, a musician is still considered a musician even when they are not actively playing their instrument.

‘Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs’ – Pearl Strachan Hurd

In these instances we know that labels such as ‘musician’ and ‘artist’ are not a comprehensive representation of an individual’s entire personality – it is absurd to think that one word could adequately summarise the complexity of human nature.

Yet, we very flippantly ascribe limiting and even damaging nouns and adjectives to people, including ourselves on a regular, if not daily basis. If you take a few moments to consider how often a label has actually positively impacted your self-esteem or confidence, you will find more often than not, they serve to be reductive and restrictive, promoting both conscious and unconscious prejudice.

“It is absurd to think that one word could adequately summarise the complexity of human nature”

Unlike a noun describing your profession – which is obviously subject to change depending on your employment – labels weighted with negative connotations such as ‘bully’ can be hard to shift. They dehumanise the person behind the word and can permanently tarnish a person’s reputation regardless of whether or not they are actively participating in aggressive behaviours.

It implies that humans are incapable of change – an oxymoronic statement, because to be human means to be in a constant state of evolution. ‘Our actions define us’ but we should be aware that the definition is not indelibly inked.

This is why at Ditch the Label we refuse to call people ‘bullies’ and ‘victims’; although such labels may seem an accurate reflection of their experience at this precise moment in time, by calling someone a ‘bully’ you are implying that is who they are at their very core, that they are inherently ‘bad’, rather than acknowledging the fact, that sometimes, good people do bad things. We are using Anti-Bullying Week this year to spread the message that it isn’t okay to label people as ‘bullies’ or ‘victims’ anymore, because it’s counterproductive.

Just as none of us are born with the ability to draw or sing a song; nor are we born with the ability to discriminate against someone because of the colour of their skin, their sexuality or any other unique factor. We believe bullying is a learnt behaviour, not an identity and although we can’t always identify the exact reason why somebody decides to act in this manner, we do know that those who bully others have issues that are not being addressed elsewhere.

“At Ditch the Label we refuse to call people ‘bullies’ and ‘victims'”

One of the first steps we take in helping those that want to stop bullying is to remind them that they are not a ‘bully’ and to stop thinking of themselves as such as it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead of subscribing to villainous stereotypes and persecuting those that bully, we look to address why they are behaving in such a way. Often, we find they are responding aggressively to a stressful situation – for example, a bereavement of a family member or their parents’ divorce. It is also a good indicator as to how the person doing the bullying sees themselves; for instance, if somebody is constantly poking fun at how others look, it is more than likely they are doing so to deflect away from their own appearance-based insecurities. Likewise with sexuality; homophobia is usually a product of insecurity and a lack of education – unfortunately, instead of taking the time to understand or embrace difference, they act negatively towards the unknown.

We must start to encourage those that bully to seek the support they need. In order for them to feel comfortable enough to do that, we need to stop branding people or giving them the impression that they are undeserving of help.

Bullying is one of the biggest issues currently affecting teens and we believe that we can overcome it if we start to think differently about how we approach things. Ceasing to use disempowering labels such as ‘bully’ and ‘victim’ is a great place to start during Anti-Bullying Week 2016.

If you are being bullied, or are bullying others and want to stop, you can get help in our community

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  • ugly
    i asked one of my friend to be extremely honest w me abt my appearance and he said that i wasn’t very pretty and that kind of broke me bc it’s like adding up yk w the other stuff that people have said, i’m lowkey embarrassed not gonna lie
  • Feeling alone
    I don't really know why but I've been feeling alone and depressed lately. It's not like I'm alone alone but it feels like I am (idk if that makes any sense or not) I talk to people all the time but I don't really want to talk to them if you know what I mean. […]
  • Depressed
    Today I feel like rubbish. Not suicidal just had enough of life. Tired as fuck. Does anyone else feel the pain 😔😞😪😕💔😢
  • What are you dressing up as for hallowen?
    What is everyone going to be for halloween?
  • premier league
    kick off Watford vs Liverpool up the reds #YNWA come on liverpoollll offside oops 🙃 goallllllllll tooooooo liverpolllllllllllllllllll lets gooooooooooooooooooo
  • liverpool play today and PL starts again
    here's who's playing - watford v Liverpool Southampton v Leeds United Norwhich city v Brighton Aston Villa v Wolves Lecister City v Man United Man City v Burnley Brentford v Chelsea
Devon Carrow, alopecia, bullying, hair-loss, inspirational stories

Devon Carrow on living with Alopecia and coping with appearance-related bullying

As part of our Annual Bullying Survey, we asked young people how they felt about their appearance. Our research revealed that – given the opportunity – 1 in 2 young people would alter how they looked in order to feel better about themselves, even considering dangerous and invasive surgical procedures such as liposuction, botox and breast implants.

Appearance was also cited as the number one aggressor of bullying, with 51% saying they were bullied because of attitudes towards how they look; 26% said their weight was targeted; 21% body shape; 18% clothing; 14% facial features; 9% glasses and 8% hair colour.

Unfortunately we can’t identify the exact reason why somebody decides to act in this manner but we find that bullying, is usually a learnt behaviour. After all, None of us are born with the ability to read or sing a song; nor are we born with the ability to discriminate against someone because of the colour of their hair, or a unique facial feature. People who feel the need to bully others normally feel threatened or intimidated by a factor that is not well-known to them or that they have limited understanding of. Unfortunately, instead of taking the time to understand or embrace that difference, they act negatively towards the unknown. If the person bullying is specifically homing in on physical attributes, it is more than likely they are doing so because they feel bad about their own appearance and are projecting their insecurities onto other people.

In this video Devon Carrow talks about living with Alopecia and her experiences with bullying because of attitudes towards this factor.

 

If you are experiencing bullying and need support, don’t hesitate to contact us.

RSS FORUM CHATS

  • ugly
    i asked one of my friend to be extremely honest w me abt my appearance and he said that i wasn’t very pretty and that kind of broke me bc it’s like adding up yk w the other stuff that people have said, i’m lowkey embarrassed not gonna lie
  • Feeling alone
    I don't really know why but I've been feeling alone and depressed lately. It's not like I'm alone alone but it feels like I am (idk if that makes any sense or not) I talk to people all the time but I don't really want to talk to them if you know what I mean. […]
  • Depressed
    Today I feel like rubbish. Not suicidal just had enough of life. Tired as fuck. Does anyone else feel the pain 😔😞😪😕💔😢
  • What are you dressing up as for hallowen?
    What is everyone going to be for halloween?
  • premier league
    kick off Watford vs Liverpool up the reds #YNWA come on liverpoollll offside oops 🙃 goallllllllll tooooooo liverpolllllllllllllllllll lets gooooooooooooooooooo
  • liverpool play today and PL starts again
    here's who's playing - watford v Liverpool Southampton v Leeds United Norwhich city v Brighton Aston Villa v Wolves Lecister City v Man United Man City v Burnley Brentford v Chelsea

Una Foye, Research Officer for the Mental Health Foundation on the link between bullying and eating disorders

I’ll never forget the day in secondary school when someone told me my legs were ‘too skinny’ and looked like ‘something that would hang out of a birds nest’. It’s not uncommon to hear things like this as a teenager (and sometimes as an adult too). How we look, our weight, or clothes and image can be a target for comments – in fact, recent Ditch the Label research found that appearance was cited as the number one aggressor of bullying. Whether it’s just ‘banter’, teasing or a more aggressive form of bullying, who we are physically is frequently something that is used against us.

With that in mind, it’s not surprising to learn that bullying is highly linked to eating disorders. In 2012 B-eat (the leading eating disorder charity in the UK) found that 86% of people felt bullying had contributed to their eating disorder and 75% felt that the bullying they experienced still affects them. It’s important to point out that not everyone who has been bullied gets an eating disorder, and visa-versa, but this strong link between the two suggests that there’s something there.

We’ve all heard the phrase “stick and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me” but that that simply isn’t true. The comments about how we look and who we are hurt us – not because they say you look too fat/ skinny/ tall/ short/ whatever it is; they hurt us because they imply we are are less important, are a bad person or are worthless. And that affects our self-esteem. Self-esteem isn’t about loving yourself, or thinking you are amazing, it’s about how you see your own worth. For eating disorders, low self-esteem is believed to be one of the major underlying factors.

While anyone would (naturally) get upset or feel hurt by such negative comments, someone with low self-esteem might take them more seriously. Because self-esteem is about how you see and value yourself, being told you are ‘wrong’ in any way by another person can reflect and confirm your own self-doubts. This is how it’s been described by many people to me; whether they have anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder. It is often when someone else starts to point out your flaws that these self-loathing thoughts begin to grow, and this can impact your mental wellbeing and lead to things such as an eating disorder.

Think of it like a garden (bear with me on this one). Hurtful comments, bullying, negativity from others and all of those things that people say to you are the seeds to an eating disorder. Some people are like concrete and are resilient to the comments – you throw the seeds there but they don’t grow. Some people are like freshly watered soil and absorb – you throw the seeds and they are quickly sown. The same seeds create different outcomes. The bullying might not “cause” an eating disorder, but it provides the seeds for it, if there is fertile ground for those seeds to sow those negative thoughts.

When I was told how skinny my legs were, I didn’t get angry at the girl for saying it, I didn’t think about why she was saying it, I simply agreed that my legs were horrible and ensured for the next ten years of my life I covered them up. And that’s something I’ve heard over and over again from people with all types of eating disorders; ‘the people that bullied me aren’t wrong, they’ve just reminded me what a worthless person I am’. An eating disorder isn’t about extreme dieting as a result of someone saying you are fat, it’s about hearing those words and letting negative thoughts spiral towards self-hatred.

“What makes eating disorders difficult to overcome without professional help is the insidious way they progressively damage an already impaired self. They ultimately become a person’s identity rather than merely an illness the person experiences.” (Andersen, Cohn & Holbrook, 2000, p.185).

If there is one thing that I’ve learnt from my experiences, it is that we are often our own worst bullies. And you don’t have to have an eating disorder for that to be true. Just think about how you talk to yourself when getting ready in the morning. Have you ever looked at yourself and said “look at the state of you” or changed ten times because no matter what you wear it is never good enough? We talk to ourselves in negative voices every day. Would you ever talk to a friend or stranger in the voice you talk to yourself in? When is the last time you gave yourself a compliment, or allowed someone else to compliment you (rather than arguing they are wrong)?

How we talk to ourselves and how we values ourselves is one the major predictors of our mental wellbeing. I’m not saying we all have to love ourselves, just try and value yourself as a worthwhile human. And remember, that it’s okay to feel a bit rubbish about yourself sometimes – behind every superhero is an alter ego who doesn’t feel good enough. It’s about not letting that take over and become the norm.

Written by Una Foye (@unafoyeResearch Officer at the Mental Health Foundation

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We spoke to Connie Chiu – the world’s first albinistic fashion model

DtL:  Hi Connie! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your story so far? 

Connie: I was born in Hong Kong, and come from a big family; I have three sisters and one brother. We moved to Sweden and grew up in a society where solidarity and equality was encouraged and taught in school. There I studied arts and radio journalism and never planned to become a model. My big sister studied fashion design and asked me to model for her college show – I enjoyed it and got good feedback from friends and family, so I wanted to see how far I could take it. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but there were people I admired in the industry and wanted to work with. I posted a black and white photo of myself with my name and phone number on the back to the French designer Jean Paul Gaultier. A few months later I was invited to Paris and did my second catwalk – for Jean Paul Gaultier! My career took off from there really; photoshoots for magazines such as Dazed and Confused, advertising, TV commercials…

DtL: What would you say has been your recipe for success?

Connie: Being myself. Don’t get me wrong, it takes time and work to get to know yourself and grow into the person you are happy and comfortable with. I think you work best with people if you are quite secure as a person, you can be open to new ideas and experiences on your own terms.

And good timing. When I first started modelling, there was no other model with my look, or albinism. I was quite surprised when a makeup artist called me a ‘pioneer’, on reflection, I suppose it was true. My priority and focus was to do good work, creating beautiful images.

DtL: How do you feel the media represents people with Albinism? What needs to change?

Connie: I don’t mind fairytale and science fiction inspired images, as long as there is variety and balance overall in the images and movie characters representing or represented by people with albinism. I can tell you from my own experience that these things matter and do influence people’s view on those with albinism. Many years ago there was a Chinese horror film featuring a character called ‘White Hair Devil Woman’; some Chinese people who thought I didn’t understand the language called me by this name. Last year, in a Chinese restaurant in Central London, a young Chinese waiter said to me that my hair was beautiful. ‘Like Frozen’, he added. ‘Thank you,’ I replied with a smile, ‘But no magic’.

 

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DtL: Have you ever experienced bullying or negativity based on attitudes towards your appearance? If so can you tell us what happened and how you overcame the experience.

Connie: I think some people make assumptions about me based on my condition and my appearance. I was not bullied in school, but every now and then, people try to provoke or upset me. Once I was in Hong Kong, travelling on the underground by myself and after a while I felt that someone was staring at me. The population in Hong Kong is mainly Chinese and not mixed, like for example, London is. So I do understand that some people in Hong Kong are curious and can’t help but look. But this was different. I turned around and glanced at a couple of women who were staring at me; their faces were twisted with anger and hate. The tension was tangible; they were standing a few feet from me. There were plenty of people in the carriage, and that probably stopped them from verbally or physically attacking me. How did I deal with that situation? Well, it became quite clear to me that their intent was to make me feel hated; it wasn’t enough that they hated me. So, I decided not to be bothered by them. I was calm and relaxed as if I hadn’t noticed them. They were strangers and I had not done anything to upset them. Their feelings and attitudes had nothing to do with me, but with their own issues. A few stops later, the two women were getting ready to get off the train. It was fascinating to see the change in their demeanour; they turned very timid, apologetic and almost scared of the other passengers as they carefully stepped off the train.

DtL: What challenges do you face and how do you overcome them?

Connie: My condition comes with some physical challenges, such as light-sensitive eyesight, and skin that is sensitive to sunlight. I have learnt to live with it. The same could be said about dealing with people’s attitudes, for example, there is a difference between staring and staring. Most people are just curious and are in general nice and positive. Others want to insult and make you feel inferior. Those people are in general, unhappy, frustrated, scared, and probably in great need of support and understanding.

DtL: Do you find modelling empowering?

Connie: It can be. I always ask and discuss ideas before accepting a modelling job.

In many ways it is more empowering to be an independent jazz vocalist. As a model, you portray and become part of someone else’s idea. But as a jazz vocalist, I choose the songs, the style and the image I want the audience to see.

DtL: Our research not only revealed that 47% of young people want to change the way they look, but appearance was also cited as the number one aggressor of bullying. What advice would you give to readers who may be struggling to embrace their appearance?

Connie: Would people who are happy and secure in their own skin bully other people? No. People that bully are always scared and often jealous. I would like to say to everyone, including those that bully others, don’t always believe what people say about you. Be strong, be kind and find your own way in life.

DtL: If you could go back in time what would you tell your younger self?

Connie: Keep going. You’re on the right track. Remember to be kind and treasure people who help you and love you for who and all that you are.

 

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DtL: At Ditch, we believe it is our differences that make us unique, and find they are often our strengths! What is the best thing about having albinism?

Connie: Not letting albinism define me. Not letting any one label define me. This may be surprising, but I think having albinism enables me to understand how complex identity can be. I appreciate all the things I am; not in any particular order, being Chinese, being a woman, growing up in Sweden and having a Swedish nationality, having albinism, loving jazz, being a chocoholic… I don’t want just one aspect of me to define and limit what I am, and what I want to do. I like my white hair, pale skin and violet eyes. But I also like my Chinese features. You see…complex.

DtL: What does the future hold for you?

Connie: I am in discussions with a photographer; we are planning to collaborate on a project – lots of close ups of face and body in beautiful landscapes. It will be on location, probably a beautiful beach somewhere. I love doing photoshoots on location.

I have just done an interview with a French magazine that will be published in a couple of months and I am also preparing for a gig next month singing songs from my debut EP, My Huckleberry Songs. I already have two music videos on YouTube and will release a new video soon.

So all in all, more modelling and more music. You can find my music on my YouTube channel.

http://conniechiu.com/

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Louie Helyar on his trans journey so far…

My name is Louie, I am a 20-year-old trans man from Surrey.

This means I was born into a typical ‘female’ body, but on the inside I have always been male – I just had to transition to make my exterior a true reflection of my interior. I guess I first realised I might be trans when I saw ‘My Transsexual Summer’, a documentary about transgender people that aired on channel 4. I found myself incredibly jealous of Fox Fisher and realised that I wanted to be doing everything that he was doing.

I officially started transitioning on the day I came out; 31st March 2015 – which coincidentally is also Transgender Day of Visibility, a day dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide.

To be honest with you, I was absolutely terrified of coming out. To start with, I only told my best friend, and although he was extremely accepting of me, it took me about a year before I actually plucked up the courage to come out to everyone. I decided the best way to do it, was to come out on Facebook first – that way, I could tell everybody at once.

The response was no way near as bad as I expected – in fact, in the main, people were very positive and understanding. Of course, I have had my fair share of unaccepting and ignorant people but you have to take the rough with the smooth.

After I first came out, there was a period of time that followed where I felt really low and down about everything. Mainly due to the frustration of not being able to transition instantly. The waiting list on the NHS for transgender people is quite long, so I looked into other alternatives to speed the process up. I managed to save up some money to get the treatment privately. I started testosterone shots (hormone replacement therapy) on the 21st of December 2015 – a day that completely changed my life for the better. I then went on to have my first NHS GIC (Gender Identity Clinic) appointment on the 31st of March 2016.

Louie now!

I am now currently on a waiting list to be referred for surgery, which hopefully should be happening in about 8 month’s time.

Throughout my school life I was bullied a lot for being ‘different’, although I wasn’t even out as transgender at this point. I couldn’t pinpoint why I was different exactly, but I knew I was, and I guess others did too. It was a really tough time for me, but, things do get better and I could never have envisioned myself as happy as I am right now.

I am now making it my mission to help other transgender people; I hope that by sharing my story, there might be someone else out there who is going through something similar, that will find comfort and reassurance in reading this.

If I could go back in time and tell my younger self one thing, it would be to never put your happiness on hold because of someone else. It’s okay to be who you are, even if you don’t conform to what society (in the main) considers ‘normal’ – and if that means losing people along the way, then so be it, because they obviously weren’t meant to be there.

I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.

 

Written by Louie Helyar

 

If you would like to share your story with Ditch the Label, get in touch!

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Plus size style & lifestyle blogger Stephanie Yeboah on how she turned self-hate into self-love

The 25th of July 2012 is a day I’ll never forget.

I was alone, doubled-over in a hospital in Barcelona, violently trying to throw up the remnants of some diet pills that I’d bought online in the hopes that I’d lose a substantial amount of weight. I was 23-years-old and obsessed with staying thin; what was important to me at the time, was that my tummy was flat and I could buy clothes from the main ranges of high street stores. Yet, even though I was the smallest I had ever been, I was suffering from severe depression, low self-esteem and had virtually no self-confidence.

Growing up I’d always been chubby, and up until the age of 10 I was pretty okay with that; I was confident and happy in myself and never gave my size a second thought. It wasn’t until I started secondary school aged 11, that my perception of myself started to change, and the bullying began.

Over the years I would have to endure both verbal and physical abuse from a group of boys at my school. I was beaten up, spat on, chemically burned, sexually harassed and assaulted – all of which resulted in many broken bones, bruises and more significantly, a complete loss of confidence and self-belief. I was told every day at school that I was ‘worthless’ and that no one would ever want to be in a relationship with me, because I was fat and dark skinned. They told me I deserved to be raped, because ‘no one else would take me’ and that I should end my own life because I was a waste of space.

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Stephanie now

It was at this point that I first tried to commit suicide. Fortunately, the attempt was unsuccessful.

School left me resentful of who I was; in my eyes I was fat and grotesque and I honestly thought that no one would ever want, or love me. I thought my size was punishment for something bad I had done in a previous life. I envied girls my age who were smaller than me and having those first-time teenage experiences that I thought I would never have because of my weight. The self-hatred was unbearable. When I looked at my reflection in the mirror, I saw an ugly, dark-skinned girl who was going nowhere in life. I saw the person that the people that bullied me, had me believe I was.

This not only had impact on my mental wellbeing, but it also affected my ability to communicate with people; I became quiet, withdrawn and socially awkward in the company of others.

I decided enough was enough; I was sick of being held prisoner in such a body, so I tried to lose weight any way I could by dieting, starving myself, throwing up food I had eaten, taking diet pills and binging on laxatives. I lost four stone, and while I physically looked ‘socially acceptable’, inside I felt disgusting.

The experience in Barcelona was the final straw. I realised that being slim wasn’t everything and that I was damaging my body just like the people that bullied me had done once upon a time. In a sense, I was letting them win. I vowed, that from that day forward I would try my best to be strong, to mend my self-esteem and rebuild my confidence. Of course, it wasn’t easy, and I had help along the way; I saw a therapist and talked about how I was feeling and I was also prescribed anti-depressants to help me through, but eventually, I reached a place where I could finally say I was in love with my body.

I still have days – just like everyone else on this planet – where I am not 100% confident in myself but if you had told me four years ago that I would be comfortable posing in nothing more than a bikini I would have laughed at you. I never, ever thought it possible that I could come to terms with my body, let alone love it and have someone else love it. But I have, and I do and someone else does too!

Yes, I’m fat. Yes, I may not have what society regards as the ‘ideal’ physique but in my eyes, I am good enough.

I am me.

Written by Stephanie Yeboah 

www.nerdabouttown.com

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  • premier league
    kick off Watford vs Liverpool up the reds #YNWA come on liverpoollll offside oops 🙃 goallllllllll tooooooo liverpolllllllllllllllllll lets gooooooooooooooooooo
  • liverpool play today and PL starts again
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