How to deal with people giving mean criticism

Cinderrella asks: My dad has been treating me pretty different for the last few weeks because I didn’t do well in my last exams, and he is always telling me not to eat too much because apparently I’m fat even when I’m not eating, and at school I’m just sick and tired of people teasing me about my scars (I was burned when i was 2 years old) and about my weight. Really it’s not as if I don’t try to exercise – I do, but it isn’t working! I try not to mind people and just be strong, but it seems I’m getting weaker by the day and I just wanna give up! I feel so lonely, because I feel like there is no one who can understand me. Please help me!

Hi Cinderrella –


I get so angry that the hair on my back stands up and my lips curl to show my fangs, when I hear about people getting on teenage girls’ cases about their weight.  We have such a problem today with teenage girls worrying too much, and thinking they’re fat when they’re not, and then doing awful things like starving or purging themselves.  I’m all for you eating well and in moderation (something I have tremendous trouble with, whenever I get near a pizza!), and exercising well.  But if you have trouble keeping your weight where you want it even then, the solution is to see a doctor or a nutritionist, not to undereat.  Now if your dad is really trying to be helpful, then of course I understand that, but he may not realize how upset he’s making you.  And that’s a problem.


But it’s a way bigger problem when kids at school are being absolutely cruel like this!  Oh, sometimes it’s a very good thing that I don’t know where my Pack Members live or go to school, because when I hear about something as terrible as those kids making fun of your burn scars, I just want to sink my teeth into the back of some kids’ jeans!!!  There is no excuse for them being that mean.  And if there’s no one at the school who’s disciplining them for that, that’s truly shameful.


But enough of my anger.  The big question is what you should do.  Okay, first, as I said, if you need to talk with a doctor or a nutritionist to come up with a good plan for weight loss, that’s great to do.  But once you do, you should sit down with your father and have a serious talk with him.  Tell him that his nagging is making you upset and nervous.  Show him how hard you’re working to control your weight, and let him know that his comments aren’t helping you do better at all; they’re likely to make things worse as your anxiety rises.  If you can do this in a calm, collected way, he’s almost certain to understand, and to change his ways.


But when it comes to those kids at school, my only advice is to avoid them.  They might outgrow this bad behavior, but for right now, they’re simply jerks, and you have nothing to gain from their company.  Most likely, at least one of them will ask you for something eventually, or try to be friendly, and at that point you can explain to that one how much it hurt you when they made fun of your pain.  And hopefully they’ll understand then.  But for now, it’s best to just shun them, and let them miss out on all the wonderful things you are.


Last thing, you say that you feel lonely because no one can understand you.  Well, in one sense, you’re right.  I’ve suffered people doing mean things, but I don’t have any burns, so I don’t know what it’s like to be made fun of for them.  Probably no one you know has been through exactly what you have.

But you know what?  Everyone you know (yes, even the jerks making fun of you) has been the brunt of meanness.  Everyone has felt judged, everyone has been unfairly criticized, and everyone has been laughed at.  Truly: EVERYONE.  So what you need to find is some friends who get it.  Who understand that the hurt you’re feeling about your scars and weight is the way they feel about their glasses and braces, or their poor coordination, or their learning disability, or their parents’ finances, or their cracky voice, or their bad complexion, or…


There’s a wonderful old movie called “Marty” that I really love, that has a beautiful line about this. “You don’t get to be good-hearted by accident. You get kicked around long enough, you become a professor of pain.”


Well, Cinderrella, this world’s full of “professors.”  I’m one, Handsome’s one, and all our friends are.  I’ll bet just about everyone in this Pack is one.  And if you can find a few of us in your school or neighborhood, and you treat them the way you want to be treated, then those are the friends who will help you the most, so you never feel exactly this kind of lonely again.




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