This story sounds all too familiar, one of those stories you read about all of the time. Someone gets bullied online for their looks or something else about them, and then maybe they kill themselves or someone else. So many times I've read stories like this and thought, Wouldn't it be great if this person was so strong they literally did not care one whit about the bullying? Maybe they are so confident in themselves that they're able to smile in the face of meanness or enlighten in the face of ignorance? Well, this person exists. And her name is Balpreet Kaur. Finally, the absolutely positively PERFECT response to bullying. Here's what she did.
A man took a photo of Balpreet without her knowledge and posted it to the social site Reddit. The reason he did this is because Balpreet is a woman with sideburns and a goatee. Yes, she has facial hair.
A guy who went by the name "european—douchebag" posted Balreet's photo in the "funny" section of Reddit. It of course prompted a string of nasty commentary. Balpreet, who is a neuroscience major at Ohio State University, finally stepped into the fray. She didn't attack back. Nor did she slouch away and then go harm herself or someone else. She didn't even run to the nearest spa for a facial wax.
Instead, she introduced herself and identified herself as the woman in the photo. Then she took this as an opportunity to calmly and openly explain why she has facial hair. She wrote:
Yes, I’m a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair. Yes, I realize that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women. However, baptized Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body -- it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being (which is genderless, actually) and [we] must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will.
She then said that she would have gladly posed for a photo of her smiling. Here she is on Twitter:
To me, my face isn’t important but the smile and the happiness that lie behind the face are ... By not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating chance and progress for this world in any way I can.
Wow! Imagine if everyone thought like this. The entire cosmetic, fashion, and diet industries would collapse! And people might be, oh, happier?
The original poster was so impressed by Balpreet's response that he issued an apology and has started up a friendship with her. He now says he post was "ignorant" and that she has "completely opened my eyes."
I don't know who raised this young woman, but well done, well done!
What do you think about this way of handling bullying? Would it work in other cases?
Images via Reddit/Twitter