A message from our Executive Director, Chelsea Laliberte:
I am fortunate enough to have a mother who told me I was beautiful every day of my youth, and even today. Despite her best attempts at instilling positive self-image in little me, I still was bullied at my Buffalo Grove, IL community elementary, middle, junior and high schools. I went through puberty very young and started to experience all that came with it before many of my peers. Without my knowledge, kids at my school were calling me “Smelly Chelsea” behind my back because I was unaware that I needed to wear deodorant. Instead of pointing it out to me, my peers would come up to me and tell me I was disgusting, fat and ugly. In 6th grade, I earned the nickname “Mole Girl” because of a large birthmark that I had on my jawline I was so mortified by the repeated name calling that my mom and I went to see a dermatologist about getting it removed. The red scar on my jawline will always remind me of that terrible experience.
This repetitive belittling caused depression very young. This caused me to develop nervous habits like picking at my skin, twitching various parts of my body, biting my nails, and compulsively shaking my leg. I became obsessed with how I looked and took every chance I had to look in the mirror and point out every little idiosyncrasy on my face or my body that I hated. Even today, I have to talk myself through my relationship with mirrors. So imagine what happened when I started doing TV interviews or getting photographed for promoting awareness. It all started up again. It makes me very uncomfortable being in front of cameras or even hearing the recording of my own voice. I attribute that to the negative recording in my own head that keeps playing over and over again that I have had to learn how to shut off in order to achieve my goals. If it was not for my mom encouraging therapy, I fear that those rude remarks may have lead me to a place I couldn’t come back from. A place where so many of my friends, family members, and many of you have sadly had to experience because of bullying. Things like drug use, self-harm like cutting, eating disorders, and even suicide attempts.
So when I was walking through the aisles today at Target, a fire lit inside of my belly when I saw a shirt that said “You CAN’T sit with us!” which is a line from the movie Mean Girls. I don’t think Target got the memo about this whole bullying problem we are having in America. These shirts are meant to target young girls in a world where youth mental health disorders and suicide is at an all time high and growing. Regardless of the movie this shirt promotes, it perpetuates the idea that some people SHOULD be ostracized and humiliated by their peers. It moves us away from kindness, compassion and acceptance, and puts us back to a place where other little Chelsea’s out there are forming self-deprecating feelings about who they are based on someone else’s opinion of their worth.
THIS NEEDS TO STOP. I want to encourage any of you who feel similarly about this issue to reach out to the Target stores in your community to ask the General Manager to take these shirts off the racks. Doing this will send the message that members of the community are concerned about the messages our young girls receive and that we will not tolerate it. Also, please take a look at Kind Campaign as they work tirelessly to promote anti girl-on-girl crime nationally and globally!