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
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.