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Constant nit-picking criticism, humiliation, undermining, gossiped about, ignored, sidelined? Read this

Bullied because you're overweight? Tried dieting but still bullied?

People get bullied and harassed for all sorts of reasons. A commonly reported reason is because you are, allegedly, overweight or too fat. Society has a prejudice against fat people. However, if you start a weight loss program and lose weight, it may make no difference. Whatever diet you're on, be it the Atkins diet, a protein diet, the mayo clinic diet, a low carbohydrate diet or high protein diet, or even a cabbage soup diet - whatever fad diet you're on - it's probably not going to make much difference to whether bully picks on you or not.

With bullying of children, being "fat" is one of the most common reasons for a child to be picked on. However, as I say on my child bullying page, the reason (being overweight or fat) is a plausibly deceptive excuse for the bully to indulge in some gratuitous violence. As children reach teenage years, they are particularly sensitive to the criticisms of others. Some teenagers, especially girls, if taunted about being overweight (and by inference ugly and unlovable) - even if they are already slim - may develop an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia. The real reasons why bullies target others are explained here.

In 1998, Kelloggs ran an advertisement suggesting that if a child was being bullied because they were fat, then losing weight by eating cornflakes might cure the problem. After complaints, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the advertisement was in bad taste; Kelloggs accepted that it wasn't their best ad and withdrew it.

Weight features prominently in cases of bullying. Some adults are bullied because they are perceived, by the bully, as overweight. In reality, from over 3300 cases of workplace bullying reported to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line, the incidence of overweight people being bullied is no more than I'd expect to find from a random sample from society. Weight - overweight or underweight - crops up most frequently in female-on-female bullying, but rarely in the bullying of or by males. Females are especially prone to comments about their weight. Weight - or perceived weight - is thus a vulnerability. Society's expectation and aspiration is the slenderness of Kate Moss and other supermodels, although this starved look is probably unhealthy and generates suspicions of anorexia or bulimia.

What has struck me is that often the female serial bully is fat, and chooses a slim female target on to whom to project her self-loathing. Envy is a strong motivator for bullies. Even if you start a weight loss program, the bully will simply change the excuse. Now you're "too thin", "too tall", "wear the wrong clothes", etc. Each reason is specious.

The target of bullying suffers injury to health and their diet is affected. Most targets lose their appetite and thus lose weight. A few people react by overeating and thus gain weight. For most people the weight loss or weight gain is temporary, but for a few, the loss or gain is permanent. I have dealt with some distressing cases of overweight adults - some grossly overweight - emanating directly, I believe, from extended periods of bullying as a child from which they have not recovered. The trauma from those years of childhood bullying remains to blight their adult life.

Bully OnLine is a gold mine of insight and information on bullying which identifies the different types of harassment and bullying, and exposes the principal perpetrator, the serial bully. Everyone, whether overweight or underweight or "normal", knows at least one person in their life with the profile of the serial bully. Click here to see ...who has this behaviour profile in your life?

Have a look through this web site to recognise the bullies and bullying in your life ... start with Am I being bullied? then move on to What is bullying? To find out what you can do about bullying, click Action to tackle bullying. Have a look at the profile of the serial bully which is common to sociopathic managers, harassers, stalkers, rapists, violent partners, abusers, paedophiles, even serial killers of the organised kind.

If bullying and harassment have caused injury to health, commonly diagnosed as "stress", see the page on injury to health and the one on the psychiatric injury of trauma, a collection of symptoms congruent with the diagnostic criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.


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