Today I heard the term “food bullying” in reference to incidents where, for example, a kid tauntingly eats a cupcake in front of someone who has Celiac disease, with hurtful intent. First, I’m thinking, “What is wrong with parents?”, because in general I’m one of those people who believe you shouldn’t curse the world with offspring that are ignorant but opinionated, self-indulgent and ego-centric. Unfortunately, in my experience, the apple doesn’t often fall far from the tree with respect to those types of personality traits.They’re typically learned, and usually from the parents to whom we look to rear these little nasties.
Next, I think, “Well, flaunting your cupcake in my face is hardly scarring”, because I am also one of those folks who thinks there’s a lot of “bully-shaming” going in society today. I don’t condone activities that people with common sense know are dangerous to others, which are legitimate bullying. I do think that it minimizes the impact of truly hurtful bullying when we throw around the word in reference to people whose opinions differ from our own, or people who we simply disagree with, or people who are just jackwagons that have no real power until we label them “Bully”.
So, back to the idea of food bullying. Is this dangerous, hurtful behaviour? It is certainly a prime example of the age-old talent humans under the age of 20 (or is it 30? or maybe 60?) have of honing in on a difference and using it to create division and isolation. Especially where the instigator believes he or she will derive social advantage by doing so. As someone who follows a restricted diet for medical reasons, I’m inclined to say that for a kid who’s dealing with being different because she has Celiac disease, diabetes, or another childhood illness, it’s at the least unkind, and at the worst it could be bullying.
And now that I think it through, I think the one thing that universally characterises most bullying is the lack of intelligence involved. Isn’t most real bullying driven by baser instincts, in both the instigator and the “audience”? By that measure, I’d say, yeah, taunting your classmate with your cupcake eating, might qualify as bullying, if only because it’s so exceedingly stupid.