When I went to see the powerful documentary “Finding Kind” with my 11 year old daughters at their school, I was shocked by how vast and disturbing the bullying between girls was and how profound and lasting these messages could be. The movie had extreme examples of girls who are treated with physical and emotional abuse every day – one was being called “ugly” or “stupid” by groups of girls everyday and slammed into lockers. Another girl was so “fat” that she was relentless teased and was suicidal, another got pregnant as a teenager and was completely ostracized and ended up dropping out of school.
I believe that for some girls even some comments of how “ugly” or “stupid” or “fat” stick with them for years afterword and really lower their sense of self worth and self confidence.
The movie’s premise was simple. Two women who had had their own experiences with bullying, set out across the country to chronicle the stories of tween and teen girls who were bullied and spread kindness to all girls, encouraging them to be respectful of each other. Encouraging them to pledge to apologize if they bullied. Encouraging them to speak out against bullying or be a friend to someone who has been excluded. Encouraging them to take time to be kind to someone.
As the movie pointed out, women often treat each other with the same cruelty as girls – gossiping and often just putting each other down because of the way we dress, the shape of our bodies, or who we chose to date. These “cat fights” can cause real hostility at work, so that women no longer feel that work is a safe place or that they can enjoy their jobs.
For tweens and teens, we know that fitting in is so important and standing up to bullying is a real challenge. Women can start to set a better example by supporting each other and sending messages of kindness instead of hatred.
“Finding Kind”‘s powerful message is to remember that words can hurt. Remember if you have your own story, whether as a bully, a victim or a witness, telling your story can help you heal.