Girl Shaming is Shameful
I’ve recently been away to Ibiza, the island I always run to for rest bite when I want to relax and feel the sunshine. As soon as the plane hits the ground I feel the warm air on my skin and subsequently feel at home.
This time, however, things were different and I now sit on the plan hastily writing down what happened using a pad covered in blue and green hearts (as purchased at the airport). I think the two guys beside me are questioning the choice of my child like writing material.
Firstly you should know that I was really excited to visit Ibiza on this particular week because there was a big music event I was desperate to go to. I had built up this ideal of reminiscing over my clubbing days and building some precious memories.
However, things didn’t go as planned.
I have never, ever been privy to another girl behaving so despicably to me in my entire life. You know when you imagine all of the things you might say to someone if they wronged you – well, words stopped flowing and I was overwhelmed with the emotion of feeling utterly embarrassed and ashamed. People talk about sisterhood. I’m talking here about sisters who should!
So this is what happened. I stood at the bar for what seemed like ages whilst the Spanish bar girls bustled around trying to deal with all the customers. A young girl walked up beside me and was immediately served and I kindly asked whether I could go first as I’d been waiting so long. The bar girl leaned across the bar into my face and said “I am the host and I shall decide who I serve, just remember you are on that side of the bar.” I was shocked. I tried to explain but the girl laughed, stood back and blew sarcastic kisses at me. I felt the ground open up and I lost the ability to speak. I felt stupid and humiliated and the only words I could get out were “you should be embarrassed at your behaviour.” As I tried to walk away she leaned over the bar and tapped my shoulder to which she gave me a barrage of abuse in Spanish. I understood some and it’s too abusive to repeat. The girl stood back, looked me up and down, shook her head and cruelly laughed at me. She continued to do so until I walked away. I wanted to cry.
This ‘hostess’ had no idea she was verbally abusing a girl who at times struggles with self confidence and body image. The girl was much younger than me but I felt floored. As a thirty four year old woman I would like to say I could rise above these types of situations but I couldn’t. My friends told me not to worry but the night was ruined. I suddenly felt very aware of my black dress, chosen to cover up the curvy parts of my body I felt self conscious about and I thought of my make up free face after hours of being at the sunshine filled event. I felt vulnerable and exposed. All I could think about was how I had been ridiculed in front of a crowd of people. I had been well and truly girl shamed.
It took days to put my experience into perspective as every time my mind recalled it I felt that same rush of embarrassment. After time, however, I realised that this girl was just that, a girl. She was probably about eighteen years old and although her behaviour was inexcusable, she simply displayed stupidity and immaturity. I felt sorry for her and was glad I had been brought up to never treat another person like that.
We must remember that when we say things we are talking to another human being who has feelings and these are tied up with complex personal backgrounds unknown to us. Who are we to laugh and ridicule others? Look at the media and social networking sites. It has become socially acceptable to read derogatory, bullying comments meant to hurt and shame others.
I appreciate my experience was an extreme face to face one but my response shows just how devastating you can feel – for some time afterwards. I have mental health issues and this sort of stress really affects my health. The sad thing is I bet the girl didn’t give a second thought of her behaviour once I’d walked away. We can all have a giggle at other people’s expense but we have to start checking ourselves and asking whether we are being kind and fair. If we’re not and our comments are going to hurt, why say them?
Inside I was Dying
Lets try and be considerate and remember that whatever we say or however we act has consequences. What we find funny could be at the detriment of others and we might never be fully aware of it’s impact. In my girl shaming moment I probably looked confident, self assured and care free but inside, ladies, I was dying.
A bit of decorum ladies and remember there is no excuse for shaming another person whether that be through talk or type. We could be doing far more damage than we realise!
For mental health issues first port of call is speaking to your GP and don’t be afraid to ask for talking therapy. For more information use the following websites – there is lots of support out there I promise!
http://www.youngminds.org.uk/ – For young people with parent helpline.
The Samaritans are a non-judgemental ear where you can talk confidentially about anything
Here is a fantastic carers package if you are supporting someone with mental health problems: