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anti-bullying

anti-bullying, Guest Posts

Sitting on the Same Side

February 8, 2016
bravery

By Beth Bornstein Dunnington

A disturbing thing happened at dinner the other night in one of my favorite restaurants in Hawaii. I was with my closest friend, and we hadn’t seen each other in a month because I’d been traveling. We had a lot to talk about and the table we were at (a table for two in the corner) was big, and we were too far away from each other. So I moved over to her side, a bench against the wall, to sit next to her… we had our heads together and were hunkered down in a deep conversation… and a fifty-something man with a big square jaw at the table next to us, who was there with two women and a baby, took offense to us sitting together like that and ordered me to go back to my side of the table.

It was shocking. Completely out of the blue.

He actually said, “You two have no class!” and “Go back to your fucking side, that’s why they HAVE two fucking sides!” There was so much background noise no one working at the restaurant heard what was going on, and we were on our own.

I did NOT go back to my seat on the other side of the table and it looked like a blood vessel was going to burst in his forehead, he was so enraged. I looked him in the eye and was not afraid, as crazy as this situation was. I stood my ground. I realized he must have thought we were a gay couple and that this was a small taste of what homophobia feels like. It blew my mind… really caught me off-guard. Continue Reading…

anti-bullying, courage, Gender & Sexuality, Girl Power: You Are Enough, Guest Posts

Cut The Label

December 1, 2015

By Laurie Suarez

Today is December 1st. The start of the new month. The last month of ​the​ year. And today is the day a very important movement launches. It will be a small movement at first, but it will grow. ​M​y hope is that it will grow to be so big that it isn’t a movement at all, it is just the way ​we think.​

My name is Laurie Suarez and today is the official launch of Cut the Label®— the campaign I founded in honor of my daughter​.​ The aim of Cut the Label® is to end the practice of categorizing each other. Sometimes we assign a label without thinking, sometimes a label is assigned to be cruel. In either case, the result is the same: the person we label is reduced to quick categorization. But we are so much more than the labels we attach to each other. We are not ​just a​ ​Religion, a Sexual Orientation, an Addiction, a Disease, a Diagnoses, ​Formally Educated-Not, Republican-Not, Rich-Not.

We are so much more than that.

​​YOU ​are so much more than that.

A year ago today​ I had to face ​the​ ​world of labels ​the hardest way possible, through watching my child struggle. A year ago, my son told me that he can’t be my son anymore. That he knew ​in his heart and brain that he is a girl. I accepted this and understood that I quickly needed to learn about what we were now facing. I glued myself to ​the​ computer and researched ​LGBTQ and ​Gender Dysphoria. ​The medical community has recognized ​Gender Dysphoria​ as a condition that can be diagnosed and addressed. One of the ​biggest struggles ​to anyone who has Gender Dysphoria is ​feeling valued​ as a human, and not feeling defined by​ labels and terms that are used against them when they move around in the world.

​The son​ ​I raised for nearly 14 years ​is in the process of transitioning to the self she knows she is​, my beautiful daughter.​ Being a teenager is hard enough, and to layer the complexities of Gender Dysphoria onto it makes the struggle much more painful. ​I couldn’t possibly be more proud of her. My daughter ​has struggled, but she is ​t​he bravest ​person ​I know​. No doubt, she deserves to be a part of a world that sees her for the person she is and ​​not a label​.​

​T​his is why I started focusing on the world beyond my daughter.​

​After I sank into a world of acronyms and labels, it occurred to me that I have missed opportunities to meet someone who could have been my friend due to a preconceived label. Staying away from certain people due to a label attached to them is unfair. There are good people everywhere and if someone is an A**hole (and as Jen Pastiloff says #dontbeanasshole) it has nothing to do with religion, sexual orientation or any other label. Some people are just A**holes. But just because some may act that way, it doesn’t mean that everyone who is of the same religion, or sexual orientation, or whatever is that way. Period. My daughter ​is and will always be loved as part of our family, but she has a long journey ahead.

​The mission of Cut the Label® is to participate in the spread of kindness and love for Humanity.

While this message is not new it cannot be overstated. We can make this world a bit “Gentler” by sticking together, let’s stop pulling each other apart into categories. Ask me my name, get to know me. I can always tell you more about me, my culture or religion and so much more if we decide to chat. But, please don’t stay away from me, my daughter or anyone else because of a label. We all deserve to be recognized and valued as a Human first.

J​ust step away from ​assigning labels​ and​ stuffing people into categories​ and smile at a stranger today.​​ I promise you it’s not difficult. ​Together, we can do this. Together, we can make a world a more accepting place for everyone.

​Cut the Label® wants to give transgender Humans and ALL ​Humans ​​hurt by ​discrimination​ion​ due to a Diagnoses, Religion, Sexual Orientation, Political choice, Culture, Disease  – t​he ​most Gentle ​world possible. On this day, December 1st, ​2014, ​I learned I ha​ve​ a ​3rd daughter.​ I feel honored to help guide her and to promote the message of Love and Acceptance.

Thank YOU for your friendship.

Learn more about Cut The Label® here. 

Follow Cut The Label® on Facebook here. 

Follow Cut The Label® on Instagram here. 

Follow Cut The Label® on Twitter here. 

Also, listen for Cut The Label® on 97.8 LA Mega in New York and 100.3 Z100 also in New York. 

And don’t forget to follow #GirlPowerYouAreEnough on Instagram — because YOU ARE ENOUGH!

 

Join Jen for a weekend retreat at Kripalu Center in Western Massachusetts Feb 19-21, 2016. Get ready to connect to your joy, manifest the life of your dreams, and tell the truth about who you are. This program is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was? Jennifer Pastiloff, creator of Manifestation Yoga and author of the forthcoming Girl Power: You Are Enough, invites you beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free—through writing, asana, and maybe a dance party or two! Jennifer’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty. Note Bring a journal, an open heart, and a sense of humor. Click the photo to sign up.

Join Jen for a weekend retreat at Kripalu Center in Western Massachusetts Feb 19-21, 2016.
Get ready to connect to your joy, manifest the life of your dreams, and tell the truth about who you are. This program is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was?
Jennifer Pastiloff, creator of Manifestation Yoga and author of the forthcoming Girl Power: You Are Enough, invites you beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free—through writing, asana, and maybe a dance party or two! Jennifer’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty.
Note Bring a journal, an open heart, and a sense of humor. Click the photo to sign up.

anti-bullying, Fatherhood, Guest Posts, Men, parenting

What Happens When a Guy Gets Bullied For Years? The Dadvocate.

February 5, 2015

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By Andy Malinski.

Oftentimes, men intimidate me.

I’ve spent a lot of time very uncomfortable around men. A group of women makes me feel much more at ease than a group of men. Why? The surface answer is that I’m not the typical guy. Although I enjoy a baseball or hockey game, I’m not a big sports fan and don’t follow any teams of any sport; I much prefer music and theater (and even when it comes to music, I’ll take Beethoven any day over any rap artist). I’ve taught my wife terms like valance and duvet and Mirepoix.

The deeper answer is that I’ve experienced some intense bullying in my 35 years and so my hope, through The Dadvocate, is to reach out to men and help establish healthy ways to express emotion and bond with wife and baby. Fearful about having a boy who might, someday, have to endure what I did in grade school, our midwife asked me, “Why wouldn’t the world want another you?” That’s a big motivator, right there, to do all I can for him, for my family, and to try and reach out to others with what I have experienced and learned from over my years.

Bullying started for me around 1st grade.  At that point it was the “fatso” name-calling on the playground.  When I was in 4th grade, I was out riding my bike one afternoon enjoying a beautiful New Hampshire afternoon when a group of bullies from school approached me.  They destroyed my bike, throwing pieces of it into the woods as I stood there, helpless, not knowing what to do.  Once they left, laughing, and were out of sight, I picked up all I could and made my way home, holding back my tears as long as I could, carrying a wheel and a seat, scared more about having to tell my parents that my bike was broken than I had been bullied.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Continue Reading…

anti-bullying, Beating Fear with a Stick, Eating Disorders/Healing

The Love Campaign

November 23, 2013

I got this letter from an eighteen-year-old girl after she read my piece on called “Lessons from Middle School We Keep Forgetting,” which I had shared again on my Facebook page.

Hi Jennifer, 
I am so happy that I found your page. I have been silently reading your posts and the responses from your “tribe” for a long time, and when you posted about “the populars” and middle school, I finally had to participate. 

You are very inspiring. What you write is so honest, and I think it is going to help a lot of people. I have dealt with relentless bullying for my entire school life. I am still finishing school; I just started my senior year. When I started school, I was at a very small country school, and there were only about seven girls in my class, and they all just decided they hated me from day one. Everyday, they told me how fat and ugly I was. Whenever my mom came in to tell the teachers about it, they all said how nice and lovely the other students were, and they suggested she get me some help. I got to a point when I was so sick from this, like physically sick. My body just manifested everything that was happening to it on the outside, and I was sick all the time. Finally, when I started middle school, I thought it would be better, and it kind of was because I made a friend, but I was still horribly bullied, and, this time, it was by older kids. 

Finally, when I started high school, I found an amazing group of friends that I am still friends with, and we take care of each other. Of course, there is still so much bullying, but at least I have people who have my back now. I also struggle with what I think is becoming a full-fledged eating disorder because of all this bullying and because of how much like shit I feel all of the time because of what I’ve been told about my body and myself for so long.

I really have to just thank you for sharing your heart and your experiences. Reading your page is making me stronger, I feel. I really hope to keep reading and getting lifted up by them everyday as I finish this school experience and try to move on to better things. I find it amazing that women are fighting so long and hard for equality and rights and a voice, when everyday, really, it is women who are taking away these things for other women. We treat each other like shit, and it is so nice to come to a place on the web where none of that happens, and it is all about helping each other and being loving to one another.

Please just tell me it gets better after high school. 

Thank you, A.

It does get better. My friend Gina Frangello said,

I think there needs to be some kind of campaign like the fabulous It Gets Better one for gay teens; this time focusing on the very real fact that so many kids who are terribly bullied end up being the movers and shakers of the adult world and how adulthood offers those who didn’t ‘fit in’ to narrow childhoods or limiting towns/neighborhoods a chance to allow themselves to shine. So many young women, who at A’s age turn against their own bodies, end up being the most confident and generous women whose lives impact others—like yours, Jen (and other women we know). It’s so vital to hang in and wait for the day when you can write the script to your own life…”

I agree.

I am not sure what the campaign is yet, but it will start here. With you guys, my Positively Positive family. Post a note to A if you like, as she will read this as well. I love that I have high school kids that read me and follow me on social media.

Any of you other kids reading this, yes, yes, yes, it gets wildly better!

Let’s start the campaign right now. Please let A know any experiences you have had with bullying or any sage wisdom or love you can offer. Let’s move from a fear-based world to a love-based world. Right now.

xo jen

poster by Simplereminders.com as usual ;)

poster by Simplereminders.com as usual 😉

anti-bullying, Awe & Wonder, courage, depression, Guest Posts, healing

Visually Impaired, 66 Surgeries & Still: Nothing But Love. A Must Read.

November 20, 2013

I wrote a post a while back called The Irrelevants. This letter to me was a response to that article and with Michelle Medina’s permission, I am sharing it. You are not irrelevant either, you sitting there reading this.

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Thank you Jennifer.

I have tried to commit suicide since I was 6. Anything to ease the pain. Even cut twice in my life, just ANYTHING to make myself disappear. It’s even harder when the messages I received from the public and my classmates were disappear! Evaporate!! You’re NOTHING!!

I’m visually impaired, I was born with a rare facial birth defect called a Tessier Cleft. My face didn’t form properly and I’m one of only between 50-56 people in the world with it. I’ve had 66 reconstructive surgeries thus far including skin grafts and bone grafts and the public has stared, pointed and laughed.

My family in the past, has given them the power to ruin perfectly good outings and I’ve often asked my parents why they didn’t abandon me at the hospital. I’ve even wished I’d been aborted, though back in 1986 the ultrasound tech wasn’t fantastic, no 3-D images like nowadays and my mother had no idea I’d require 66 surgeries and be born without eyes to boot. I have a talking computer.

Anyway, my classmates were even more brutal, punching, kicking and spitting upon me. I have PTSD, occasional panic attacks and still struggle (without meds) to remind myself every day to stick it out. My little sister has a Baby, a boyfriend and my life consists of a CockerSpaniel and a Cat. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my girls!! They are my babies!! They aren’t a human baby though and they definitely aren’t a partner.

I hold my 4 month old niece and sometimes find myself indulging the idea that she’s really mine and not my sister’s. I’m already so attached when my sister tried to leave her with me overnight and ended up crying herself to sleep and then coming to get her a while later because she just couldn’t, it took all I had to hug her, pat her on the back and say: “It’s ok Sis, I understand.” She left and walked across to her place and I couldn’t move from my spot in front of the door, couldn’t breathe. . . it felt like my heart was ripped out of my chest. My rational side kept saying: “She’s a first time mother, it’s not you!! It’s not you!!” My ego said: “Of course it’s you! You suck! You’re a piece of shit!! Even your own sister thinks you’re just “the blind girl” who can’t look after her child! Pack it in, bitch! Just pack it in already!” I typically share EVERYTHING with my sister, we love each other to bits, but I didn’t share that. . . I just couldn’t bring myself to, thinking of her and how her feelings would be hurt, because that’s not what she was thinking at all and I knew she wasn’t! If anybody knows my abilities it’s my sister. Point being. . . I’ve been there, am still there probably half the time if I’m brutally honest, but I’m crawling for it anyway. “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” from the Smashing Pumpkins is playing now and aptly describes that 50% of my time. The other 50% is probably best described by “Dirty Frank” by Pearl Jam. I choose that because it’s funny, an oddball/goofy song that makes me jump around and holler like a fool. Lol. Thank you for the reminder I can do this. . . even if it means crawling and falling and clawing my way through it! ~ Michelle

***

Beloved tribe of mine, dear readers, you, whoever you are: take heed from Michelle. Listen to her. You can do this. Even if it means crawling and falling and clawing your way through it.

Post comments to Michelle below 😉

Also, feel free to contact her via Facebook. She would love that. Click here.

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