For the Record…

Today’s epiphany arrived over breakfast in the staff kitchen.

A colleague and I bantered back and forth while he prepared a bowl of oatmeal and I peeled the pith from my orange. “Every morning!” he said jovially as he mentioned the scoop of protein powder that goes into his oats. While a very nice guy, I have admittedly always labeled him the office gym rat, and yes, as embarrassed as I am to admit it, a “bro.” (For those of you that are unfamiliar with this term, please add the Urban Dictionary to your bookmarks–or watch an episode of Jersey Shore.)

However, during this very brief interaction, he also revealed that he had been a bit on the chunkier side as a young child and was often teased for it.

This reminded me of a video clip a friend posted to her Facebook page. In the clip, a heavier set female news anchor shares a condescending email from a male viewer, in which he expresses disappointment that the news anchor’s “physical condition hasn’t improved for many years,” then referred to her as “obese” and a poor example for today’s young people.

Hurtful, dontcha think?

Well, this woman’s rebuttal is priceless. Rather than belittling the viewer, she instead mentions a timely issue: bullying (October is National Anti-Bullying Month). Her message? While she acknowledged that the man’s words didn’t deeply affect her, she expresses concern that her young daughters may not have the life skills to be able to ignore hurtful words if put in a similar situation. She closes with advice I think we can all take to heart: “Do not let your self-worth be defined by bullies.”

So, friends, before we go running our mouths, let’s remember: The “bro” with his ripped muscles, rhinestone-studded jeans, and Affliction T-shirt may very well be a former fat kid, bullied relentlessly in his younger years. The seemingly needy “head-case” may have suffered years of abuse or neglect, of which no scars remain. In fact, it’s cruel words that leave scars more permanent than any physical wounds. And, while we’ve all, at one time, said something unkind, it’s good to remember how incredibly awful it feels to be on the receiving end of unkind words.

Tonight, I attended a lecture at Boise State, during which a Harvard professor shared statistical evidence that individuals with higher intellects tend to be more accepting of others. So, in case you’re wondering, folks, what’s the lesson here?

Pass judgment and you are a dumbass.

Glad I could help clear that up.

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