Eating disorders disproportionately affect members of the LGBTQ+ community and bullying can serve as one factor in the development of an eating disorder. As a whole, LGBTQ+ young people are more likely to experience bullying at school, sexual harassment, cyberbullying, and property damage.
GLAAD’s Spirit Day is a time to stand with LGBTQ+ young people who have experienced harassment and bullying for being who they are. Here are seven ways to stand up to bullying today and always.
1. Wear purple today!
Purple shows that you support what Spirit Day stands for. It’s a simple – yet effective – way to show that you’re open and committed to creating a world where bullying is a thing of the past.
2. Ditch assumptions.
How many times have you heard the tired old phrase, “Pink is for girls and blue is for boys?” How many times has your competence been judged by your appearance, gender, or race? Assumptions can be stifling, incorrect, and extremely hurtful, especially when it comes to gender identity.
While we’ve been socialized to make assumptions on sight, avoid making assumptions about gender or pronoun preference. If you’re uncertain about someone’s preferences, always ask respectfully.
Here’s an example: My name is [X] and my pronouns are [X]. What about you?
3. Challenge offensive jokes and statements.
From fat jokes to gay jokes to everything in between, there’s a piece of offensive pie for everyone. If you hear an offensive “joke” or comment, a simple “I don’t find that funny” could work. If a boss or teacher is making the comment, all you might be able to do in the moment is not laugh – and that is an important start.
4. Stop the self-hate!
Are you your own biggest bully? Your self-esteem can take a hit if you’re constantly belittling your achievements or putting yourself down because of your appearance. Think about your recent accomplishments and the qualities people love about you. Are you funny? Kind? A good listener? You can use those talents to make the world a bit better today.
5. Educate yourself about marginalized communities.
Think about the media you consume. Is it diverse? Intersectional? If you’re looking for spaces that aren’t exclusively cis, white, and heterosexual, Autostraddle, Nalgona Positivity Pride, Adios Barbie, Everyday Feminism, T-FFED, Proud2Bme, and NEDA’s Marginalized Voices project can be good places to expand your horizons.
6. Apologize – and mean it.
We are all perfectly imperfect and sometimes that means we make mistakes. If you offend someone, make an effort to own up to it. A simple apology and promise to do better without pushing the emotional burden onto the person you’ve offended can go a long way. Once you recognize and apologize for problematic behaviors, make an effort to change them.
7. Get social!
Follow #SpiritDay on Twitter for updates and content to share. If you see your classmates, colleagues, friends, and acquaintances posting photos of themselves wearing purple, support them. A Retweet, Like, or comment can be a small but meaningful way to show solidarity.
For additional tips on how to be an ally to LGBTQ+ people in eating disorder recovery, check out NEDA’s guide here.
Diana Denza is NEDA’s communications associate. She graduated Fordham University in 2011 and has been rockin’ and rollin’ in NYC ever since. Diana adores nonprofit life, graphic novels, funny women, black cats, feminist tattoos, and all things queer.