Health and weight

Bullying and weight

"I got to a point where I just wanted to pack all my things away and just run away and never come back"
 
"They never saw me cry, but quite a lot of the time I would go away and cry. It just made me feel like, why have they chosen me? I must be a bad person, I must be really useless."
 
All but one of the young people we interviewed had been bullied about their weight. Most said that bullying ‘got to them’ even if they tried to not let it bother them, and it was very hard to bear. Some had to change schools to avoid the bullying. Bullying usually started with verbal abuse but some people had also been physically assaulted.
Bullying, for most young people, started at primary school and was at its worst between years 8 and 13 (ages 12-18). Bullying consisted of name-calling, pushing and shoving, being ‘out casted’ or having clothes and belongings spoiled or stolen. Bullying happened during lessons, in corridors, in playgrounds and on journeys to and from school. Bullying sometimes continued outside school and into college. 
 
Reactions to bullying
Some people tried to avoid getting bullied by keeping a low profile and/or trying not to react. A few reacted by fighting back but were then seen as being aggressive. 

Gemma 'felt a lot better' for telling her parents about the bullying but not all parents were helpful. Some were very upset or got angry with the teachers. Telling teachers about bullying helped some people but could also make things worse.
Some people said they were coping OK with the bullying but most said that bullying had made them feel less confident. Some dreaded school so much because of bullying that they stayed at home to “hide themselves away from the world”.  Some got depressed especially when other things went wrong at the same time, and several said they had self-harmed and/or cut themselves. Food provided comfort ‘like getting cuddled and getting loved’ and was something to do when they were bored at home.
Things that helped
Being able to talk about bullying with a teacher or team leader at school worked for some people but only when that person actually did something to help. Having some really good friends at school was the most helpful thing.
 
Watch It! (a community programme for young people) helped one girl. Others found SHINE (Self-Help, Independence, Nutrition and Exercise) helpful. The school nurse helped one girl.
 
Looking back on their schooldays some older people said that being bullied and excluded from friendship groups had been horrible but had meant they'd worked harder and done well in exams.

See also Low moods & depression

Last reviewed February 2015.

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