Not a day goes by without listening or reading about one or more cases of school bullying. As if it were a novelty! Why people are so taken aback? School bullying is as old as Visitación’s braids. Back in my school days – a girl’s school run by nuns– in the second middle of last century, there were a group of outcasts in my class, the1970s and 1980s version of modern loosers. Fortunately, I wasn’t part of that group, lucky me, although as I was kind of bookish, the group of smokers branded me a wonk (years later one of them washed my head at a small hairdresser’s). Among those wretched loosers, the antipodean of popular girls, was Visitación. She was a lanky girl, with an ugly, greenish-yellow face, deep and dark bags under her eyes and long yellow horse-like teeth. But her most striking feature were undoubtedly her braids. In the 80’s it was already an old-fashioned hairstyle even for little girls, all the more if you were well past 15. So she was a rarity in the middle of so many long and flowing manes like Charlie’s Angels.
Among Visi’s bullies there was one who stood out from the rest for her ruthless cruelty, the leader of the smokers. She tormented poor Visi constantly. She used to pull her braids violently, took the elastic bands from the ends and hid them. She delighted in ruffling her thin wiry hair wildly. She teased her nonstop, while an obedient claque of accomplices applauded servilely her unfunny practical jokes.
I was an impotent witness to the constant bullying poor Visitación had put up with, but I could do nothing. I was afraid of that group. Better her braids than me. A total coward, I admit it. But back in those days if you got bullied and he or she was stronger, cockier and wilier than you and besides that he/she had supporters, you had few choices. Telling your parents was not an option. It could even be worse. The bullies would laugh their heads off when your parents walked in the school ready to defend you! More juicy titbits for school predators. During all my school years the unrelenting hunt never stopped.
Today Visitación’s braids are on social networks, pictured without her consent. Today Visi and her braids are cyberbullied, the teasing made viral with a click of one mouse.