February 27 was Pink Shirt Day and there were a lot of people wearing pink in Vancouver. The day is meant to draw awareness to bullying and empower people to stand up against it.
While I’m not convinced that encouraging dress code conformity (and perhaps alienating those who aren’t wearing pink) is the way to make a positive impact, I do think that looking at the causes of bullying and how to stop it is a good thing.
Bullying takes all kinds of forms and often self-harm is left out of the mix. As my friend Tim writes in his post No bruises can be seen…, “it can also happen when we look at how we treat our inner-selves and the relationship to our outer-selves.”
Sometimes the harshest bully is the one in our own heads. I know I’m certainly a self-bully and sometimes that nasty inner voice runs rampant.
Seth Godin has an excellent post on Destabilizing the bullying power structure that talks about bullying reinforcing conformity. Getting rid of bullying means encouraging others to be their own wonderful, weird selves. We need to turn that inwards as well and let ourselves be perfect exactly as we are.
Embrace your inner weirdo and stop forcing your own conformity. Seth encourages us to “share that weirdness and run with it.” Tim urges “start seeing what it feels like to give yourself a little slack.”
I’ll chime in and agree.
Beyond recognizing bullying and the urge to conform within society, look at your inner world and try to silence the bully inside.