The End to Bullying: My Story and Compassion Brands

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I could not be more excited to talk with you guys today about Compassion Brands and the causes that they stand for. Comprised of a collective of executives in fashion design, retail, the arts and philanthropy, Compassion Brands was created to bring awareness and support to the fight against bullying and to shine the light on other important social issues which are often overlooked. Comprised of brands like Skate Against Hate and Anti Bully, Compassion Brands uses ‘positive messaging fashion’ to spread it’s mantra of universal love and compassion, and donates a skyrocketing 33% of their royalties to charities aimed at providing support to struggling teens.

When I saw Compassion Brand’s site and read about what they stood for I immediately knew that I wanted to work with them and share my story. Although it is painful and almost shameful at times to talk about, I truly believe that sharing my hope, experience, and strength regarding my journey with bullying is an imperative step in bringing awareness to just how prevalent and dangerous bullying can be.

Around 4th grade, my life underwent a shift. I’m not sure exactly when or how it started….I can not pinpoint the precise moment when everything changed…but somehow I found myself ostracized from the other kids in my class, alone and lonely. I became the butt of jokes, made fun of for every possible thing that my peers could come up with: my voice was too high, my clothes were too weird, I was Jewish in a town full of kids who were not; I was a teacher’s pet because I got good grades, I was annoying. No matter what I did or said, I was made fun of. And it wasn’t just jokes or snide comments here or there…it was a continuous all-out assault. There was graffiti about me in the bathrooms and on the outside of the classroom walls, I was once put in a trash can, I played alone at recess. Girls, boys, all of them were just awful. They said some of the most horrible things to me….things that stuck with me all the way into adulthood. I didn’t want to go to school, I got stomach aches and found various reasons to avoid the classroom-and I distinctly remember how incredibly embarrassed I was. I was so ashamed of myself and lived in constant fear of others finding out “who I was”. I feared that if kids who weren’t in my class knew that my classmates considered me a “freak” and a “loser” that they too would see me that way.

I remember coming home one day from school and just crying uncontrollably. I cried for hours; I couldn’t stop. My heart felt broken and any confidence or self-worth I possessed had been whittled away to nothing.  My parents tried their very best to put an end to the bullying…they even met with the some of the other kid’s parents and the principle of the school. But nothing changed. The other kid’s parents didn’t take what my parents said seriously, the school never disciplined the kids. I couldn’t take it, I became depressed and anxious, scared to leave home. Finally, over the summer before 7th grade, my family decided to switch me to a new middle school in a town next to ours so that I could get a fresh start. Some people might see this as running away from the problem but for me it was lifesaving. I couldn’t continue to exist as I had been.

Thankfully at my new school no one knew who I was and I was able to reinvent myself, to start healing from those years of trauma. I still lived for a long time in fear of someone at my new school discovering who I was, terrified that it would start all over again. But it didn’t. I went on to high school and college and never again faced that sort of all-out demoralization. But as I mentioned earlier, the scars that those kid’s words left on my heart have taken a very long time to fade and occasionally they still burn red-hot. There are still times where I worry that I will be made fun of or penalized for no reason, there are still moments where I’m suddenly that sad ten year-old girl instead of the strong mom and woman that I am today….but those moments are now few and far between. What I can tell you, if you happen to be reading this and are going or have gone through something similar, is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. What people say about you is often a reflection of what they feel about themselves, not a reflection of who you are as an individual. You WILL come out of this stronger, more compassionate and with more understanding of others than you thought possible. Bullying taught me about empathy, because I know what it’s like to feel pain and so I can relate to and sympathize with others. It may sound strange but going through what I experienced has ultimately made me a better person because I will never, ever treat someone like I was treated.

Each day about 160,000 students miss school because of bullying or because of their fear of being bullied; every seven minutes a child is bullied on the playground. With only a shocking 15% of these incidents reported or dealt with, 85% of bullying incidences go ignored. And bullying doesn’t just happen in the classroom, cyber-bullying is just as if not even more prevalent in this digital age. This is unacceptable. We as a society owe it to our children to stop allowing bullying to go unnoticed, to stop allowing those who are effected to suffer in crippling silence.  It’s time to stop turning a blind eye to those who are hurting, time to stop sweeping the facts under the rug. The correlation between bullying and depression and suicide is too strong and scary to be dismissed. As a mom, I am terrified that my daughter might some day experience what I went through. I want her to feel safe to be herself, to live without fear or persecution for simply being WHO she is. I want to know that my beautiful, special little girl will be able to go to school without fear that someone might try to stomp all over her dreams, to be able to wear what she wants or listen to whatever music she likes, to be able to speak her mind without worrying about what others are going to say about her. I want her to know and feel love, always.

These beautiful bracelets I’m wearing feature Compassion’s iconic ‘cross out’ symbol, which represents the fight to put an end to bullying, and their “hope”, “peace”, “strength”, and “courage” flash tattoos are a reminder to be courageously and authentically ourselves; the ‘Skate Against Hate‘ tank communicates exactly where both I and Compassion Brands stand. Change starts with us, and what better way to tell the world that we will not allow bullying than to wear our stance proudly on our chests, arms, and wrists.  We must be strong and speak out against the injustice that is bullying, and as Anti-Bully’s slogan goes, we must “Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Strong, Be Yourself, Be Anti Bully”.

TANK: c/o Compassion Brands  ::  NECKLACE: Forever 21, similar style here and here  ::  BRACELETS: c/o Compassion Brands FLASH TATTOOS: c/o Compassion Brands  ::  JEANS: rag&bone  ::  BOOTIES: Report Signature (33% off)  ::  JACKET: Target (girl’s section, size L or XL), love this Cheap Monday style

 

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One such charity that Compassion Brands supports is Teen Line, a confidential telephone helpline for teens. It operates every evening from 6:00pm to 10:00pm PST and is toll-free from anywhere in California. Whether a teen is struggling with issues or just wants someone their age to speak to, Teen Line is a great resource and can be reached at 310-855-HOPE(4673). You can also reach them via text by texting “TEEN” to 839863. TEEN LINE offers message boards and other resources and information as well.




17 Comments

  • Reply February 2, 2015

    Claudia

    I admire you so much, thank you for sharing your story! I hope to one day be a strong, beautiful, and amazing mom like you!
    xo, claudia
    http://www.chroniclesofclaudia.com

    • Reply February 3, 2015

      Maya Thayer

      Claudia thank you so much for reading it, and for being so sweet and supportive about my blog. I can’t tell you how much it means to me! I can tell just from your sweet posts (and beautiful smile) that you are going to be an amazing mom and are already an incredible woman. Thank you!! xoxox

  • Hey lady! I love that you’ve collaborated for such a great cause. I had a similar experience in elementary school, and I still cringe when I think about it today. I feel like bullying awareness was not as wide spread back then and I’m so glad it’s a national issue now. I would never want my kids to go through it.

    xx Jill
    Latest Post: Nature’s Corset – Sculpt Your Waist with 4 Effective Oblique Moves

    • Reply February 3, 2015

      Maya Thayer

      I am so sorry that you went through it too, girly. I totally agree, awareness and prevention is SO much more prevalent now than it was when we were growing up (assuming we are around the same-ish age ha). Back then no one seemed to care. I’m so grateful that today it has a national platform and companies like Compassion Brands to continue to spread the message! xox

  • Reply February 2, 2015

    Erin

    Omg, Maya! This brought me to tears!! You are incredible! First of all, on a superficial level, these photo’s (and you, obviously) are beautiful. Secondly, you are so strong and talented. I cannot believe that that happened to you when you were younger. This is such an amazing cause to be a part of it. I’m so glad there is awareness around bullying now and I’m sure you are impacting so many people with your story. ♥

    • Reply February 3, 2015

      Maya Thayer

      Thank you so much Erin! Bullying happens to just about everyone in some form at some point, and it’s so important to try to shed light on causes and organizations that support the fight to create a better world. Glad that you loved the piece, thank you for the support doll! xoxoxo

  • Reply February 2, 2015

    Wishes & Reality

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! Not only do you have incredible style but a beautiful soul as well. This will give hope to many who don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    • Reply February 3, 2015

      Maya Thayer

      Thank you so much hon! I hope that it can touch people who are either in the midst of a struggle or have been through something similar. So touched that you read it. MUAH!

  • Reply February 3, 2015

    Jules

    Sorry to hear that love, but look who you’ve become. I guess what doesn’t kill you does make you stronger cause by looking at you all I see is a beautiful, empowering, strong women who inspires many. It’s amazing that most human beings at one point in their life had been bullied in some way. It’s nice to know we are not along. Loved the article and you look so pretty too!!

    • Reply February 5, 2015

      Maya Thayer

      Thank you so much Jules, you are so so sweet. It really does amaze me how many people can relate…and how mean human beings can be but also how loving and supportive! Thank you for reading doll!

  • Reply February 3, 2015

    Hailey

    Babe! You are such a strong woman and mother, my heart breaks to read this. I experienced bullying starting in the 4th grade too. I still have random nightmares about the girls that made horrible fun of my winter coat, who forced me to share my bagel with them at lunch, and said the meanest things ever.

    I love this company and their mission! You’re amazing, inside and out. Your daughter is SO lucky to have you as her mama and role model. I admire you like crazy.

    • Reply February 5, 2015

      Maya Thayer

      Oh hon I am SO sorry that you had to go through that too….and that it still effects you in your dreams from time to time (i get it, happens to me too). Thank you so so much for reading and for your super sweet words, they mean so much to me!

  • Reply February 4, 2015

    Aida

    Oh Maya, you just took me back to the 4th and 5th grade where I went through some similar things. I could relate to so much of what you said and I THANK YOU for sharing your story. You are not only beautiful but an inspiration to all of us. I love that this brand is giving back and helping to spread the message!

    Xo,
    Aida
    http://www.mylifeinmascara.com

    • Reply February 5, 2015

      Maya Thayer

      Awe Aida thank you SO much for coming over and reading my story, and for sharing that you’ve been through it too. It always amazes me how many amazing women have gone through bullying…but they come out on the other side amazing just like you! Thank you for the love mama, means so much!

  • Reply February 7, 2015

    Francesca

    You are such a strong beautiful woman today, that is admired by so many. Thank you for sharing your story and for being the amazing chick you are for standing up for such an important cause. You rock mama xoxo

    • Reply February 7, 2015

      Maya Thayer

      Awe mama thank you so much for reading this! Means the world to me, seriously. I feel the same about you, my rocker chic babe! xox

  • […] deal of negativity and bullying from the other kids in my class (more about that period of time in this post). My dad used to tell me that when he was younger, the other kids made fun of him for putting […]

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