I wanted to take a moment to talk about something that has become a part of my world since overcoming obesity.
As you all know and probably can relate to, I was bullied during most of my school days for being overweight. This wasn’t just verbal, at many times it was physical. My nose met many brick walls, my cheeks purple from punches, my uniform smelled of trash cans and boys urinals.
Recently, I’ve been told the bullying thing is thrown around too much by recording artists. I couldn’t agree more. Artists throwing this fucking word around like monkey’s throwing their shit in a zoo, just to create a story for themselves. Of course I’m not referring to those, like myself, who have actually been through the torturous experience of bullying. But the point is, it is an over-used term. Getting a nasty comment on your YouTube video, whilst not nice, is not the type of bullying I’m talking about.
I want to get across how what I’m talking about from experience, is not just another anti-bullying campaign. That bullying doesn’t stop at the typical description of it. It didn’t stop for me just because I lost some weight. This ties into sexual harassment, assault, feminism and the condemnation from many that ‘women are asking for it’.
I have more things that have happened to me that I could speak up about. But I don’t want to disrupt the furry bunny “its ok to have a fat ass” world. I know how much this f’ed up society doesn’t want to speak up about real shit that happens to perfectly innocent people in the world so they are stuck on big fat butts and anti-bullying. Oh and fake ass feminism.
A lot of you ask me, “How did you overcome the bullying?” or “How do I make it stop?”
Unfortunately, given that now people can bully you anonymously online as well as to your face, this is a problem that no matter how much “awareness” is brought to it, is not going away any time soon. My story will further explain how it is not your fault, and how we must support each other to become more powerful from the inside out in order to no longer allow this to happen to us.
The rest of this letter to you is going to be speaking quite candidly. If you enjoy the cotton candy reality that we deserve to be living in, then please skip over the rest of my letter and just watch the video above. I urge you to read this, though, as it gets extremely personal and I hope that it could help you or someone you know.
For a very long time, I truly believed that being overweight was the reason why I was bullied. I was 200lbs when I was younger. I actually believed the bastards and thought I was the problem. So I did what any problem solver would do. Lost the weight. Problem solved right?
Here is something I haven’t really shared with anyone before.
What happened after is far more soul destroying than anything I had experienced up until this point.
The evil of bullying takes on a new form.
Many people would believe girls enjoy the attention from guys and in some cases girls, for being sexually attractive. For women that are sexually harassed this couldn’t be further from the truth. Especially when they are so damaged from the abuse they have endured.
I was naive and not equipped to stand up for myself as a young lady now seen as a “sexual object.”
The urban dictionary defines the word ‘negging’ as “low-grade insults meant to undermine the self-confidence of a woman so she might be more vulnerable to your advances.”
This, is manipulation – bullying.
A lot of people might say “well just toughen up”, you are attractive and seemingly strong so you should be able to brush it off. Just because you ‘look’ like a person who would be impervious to bullying and manipulation, based on your perception of them. A lot of people think this about me. Because I’ve lost the weight, I must think that I’m ‘so fantastic’ that bullying doesn’t affect me. But guess what – it does. What they don’t understand is that when you come from a backgroud of self loathing, depression and even self harm, caused by abuse and events I’ve experienced when i was younger, bullying is not something that can just be ‘brushed off’.
Back to the ‘negging’ form of bullying. Boyfirends that I loved and was completely devoted to used these insults on me constantly until I was a shell of a person. Boys and girls acting like they were my friends would inject this kind of poison into me. For years. Everytime, I felt like I was developing as an artist or as a person, someone very close to me would use this type of bullying to tear me down again. I was harrassed in my workplace and made fun of because I wanted to be a popstar. My boss announced in front of an audience of 400 about my “egotistical” ambitions. People scuffed, they whispered and laughed at me. I wanted to die.
But I kept going. I wanted to be a singer. I started writing and producing my own music. A friend of a friend suggested I work with someone more skilled. I decided to truly back myself and work with one of Australia’s top producers that my friend introduced me to. I had a business meeting with him. He said he could help me create quality demos and take me to major label meetings. I mean he couldn’t be lying, he’s worked with anyone who is anyone in Australian music. I saved up the money and began to write and record with him. He had a cool set up in his downstairs area. He had a wife and two gorgeous kids that were usually upstairs when we worked.
Then it began. He started making remarks about my breasts and how he “just wanted to squeeze them” then would laugh and say “just kidding…..but really…. hahaha”. It wasn’t funny to me. I felt sick and uncomfortable. I fake laughed and put up with those kinds of comments for months.
Where is that music you may ask? Let’s just say, the money I worked so hard to save went toward re-paving his new driveway. And I was left with half ass written and produced tracks and no meetings.
This is not the only example of what happened in Australia with “producers”. One day I will share the rest with you, as heart wrenching and disgusting as it is. But let’s press on shall we?
I guess all my school friends, boyfriends, work collegues were right huh? But a life without persuing my dream is not a life worth living. Not for me. There had to be a way.
One of the many jobs I was working at the time was with a children’s theatre company. We toured all over Australia bringing amazing shows to kids. The CEO of the company could see how passionate I was about music and perfomance. He had seen me grow and develop and after hearing my story of pursuing it alone, he became passionate about helping me further my career while also keeping me safe being my manager. After having just cut ties with another guy who had crashed my car without paying for it, broken my laptop without getting it fixed, I was happy to take the CEO up on his offer and get the hell out of there.
So I ran away. Far far away. To Los Angeles.
Little girl alone in a big city. I was in a pharmacy, and not that I believe in “women asking for it clothing attire”, but to humor those who do I will tell you what I was wearing. I was in sweat pants, a sweat shirt, no make up, hair a mess and in the womens sanitary items area, looking at big ass overnight pads. When a tall decent looking guy walks past me and bumped me. He politely apologised and I brushed it off and said, “you’re right mate”.
I was still comparing prices of pads and asking why God is such an ass he would curse us ladies with this agony, insatiable appetite and then charge us for the inconvenience, I didnt notice the tall man had come back around and bumped me again. This time it was obviously deliberate, he put his hands on my hips and girated his very hard penis against my backside, held it for what seemed like a lifetime and broke away and said “excuse me”.
Let me take a second to say I had just been sexually assaulted. I didn’t even know I was. I froze, I whimpered and started crying. My heart started beating a billion times a second. A huge lump came up through my stomach and stuck in my throat. I was so scared I could only give the guy a “what the fuck?” stare. He locked eyes with me and grinned this smug grin. He could see the terror, the tears in my eyes.
I started to walk toward other people in the store, I was looking for security. Meanwhile I am fumbling trying to find my phone in the bottomless pit of a handbag that I used to carry around with me back then. My hands were shaking I could barely dial. Thankfully my manager was in the country and the only person I knew. I called him and he came straight away.
But not before tall sexual deviant guy came for another round. Still on the phone to my manager I screamed “He’s coming again, get away from me!”. People looked at me in disgust as if I was the problem. How dare I raise my voice in public?
Despite the general public’s ridiculous response and plain ignorance, the sexual deviant moved away from me. I felt instant relief.
Weeks later I saw this man again while I was at the gym. He went up to the lady at the desk asking about membership. The same terror came upon me as the first time I was assaulted by him. I froze, I was taken back to that moment that he had so much power over me. I nearly vomited. Tears welled in my eyes as I ran to lock myself in the bathroom and got straight on the phone to my manager again. Suddenly I couldn’t breathe. My chest was hurting. My legs gave out and I fell to the floor gasping for air. I was having a panic attack. I hadn’t had one of those since my last boyfriend had me cowered under a desk as he threw a chair across the room. (Another story I know)
When my manger arrived he found me coming out of the bathroom collecting myself and my belongings. I was totally done with the treadmill that day. He had a word with the receptionist about the sexual deviant and I never went to that gym again. Better still, I moved away from the neighborhood.
And trust me when I say it doesn’t just stop here then straight onto “Look At Us”. Oh no. There is so much more in between. And so many things that are much worse that I will not burden you with today.
For those of you that follow me on twitter (http://twitter.com/KatjaGlieson), you may see that I have made a couple of posts of late on my most recent issues. Usually I keep it very positive, because there is so much light and love in the world and that deserves our focus. But when things dark and sinister try to disguise themselves as light, I usually will speak on it. Right now my issue is being taken seriously as an artist on a higher level. This means I have been trying to be a bit entrepreneurial and take initiative in making connections so that I can grow my business. Pretty standard stuff right? Haha not for a blonde ‘poptart’ living in Hollywood. I met this literal billionaire who came up to me after a performance I did and talked about his business ties to the music industry (he knows some big players) and showed interest in more of my work. It’s pretty standard to get a card and send your pitch to potential business connections and investors. Especially when they offer to help. This guy said he replied to my pitch email (I never received it) and came on set to see us work. Now remember I put together this music video for ‘Look At Us’ as an indie artist with no big label $ or trust fund. So the turn out was pretty huge, considering we didn’t have a huge budget. And everyone on my team have such great big hearts and are just as driven as I am by this project. This guy turns up to the set. After a few professional texts back and forth where I also mention I’m working hard to get the video released, a week later he texts me asking if I have my video out already so we can ‘finally’ go have some fun? Before some of you fly off the handle saying he was genuinely offering to help me ‘get out and have some fun’ because of all the work, I remind you that I deal with these people ALL the time. It always ends up in the same place. And I never said anything to him about being stressed or overworked, only that I was excited about the release. Here’s the text he sent me:
So let’s break it down people.
So I have been manipulated. This text to me belittles the entire project, my career, my passion and my entire reason for living, and says that all of that is ‘not fun’ to him. Music, the people I work with and the people I connect to through my music, IS my fun. You guys are fun. And I was consistent with that fact in all my communication with him since meeting him.
Meanwhile, I just found out that whilst this was happening, a fellow male artist in need of some funds for his project just sent an email to a connection he made, and within a few days had a S*!tload of actual money invested in his video.
I am just gonna call BS on that obvious disparity between how two artists in the same situation were treated. I’m not saying he has to invest in me, but he was the one telling me he could help me. If you don’t want to help or invest, just say so. That’s fine. Or if you’re just looking for a girl to ‘have fun’ with (by your definition) then be up front about that, don’t lure me in with promises to help me in my career.
I wanted to really share these experiences with you. How I reacted naturally, how I felt I had to react, how far I have come since then. And perhaps open a discussion. I mean I know for certain a lot of artists, in particular female indie artists, go through these things all the time.
But I have friends in regular jobs or in college that deal with this. And it doesn’t just happen to women.
When will we stop smiling and laughing it off, when will we stop freezing and thinking it’s our fault? When will we stop hating ourselves to the point where we want to stop being alive? When will we stop letting bullies, sexual deviants and misogynists hold us back from being who we truly are?
My music and my message is not just a “hey haters, F you all, look at me now I lost half my body weight”. It is more. It is a celebration of overcoming deep pain and fear. Learning how to stand up for myself. As a young lady, trying to make her mark on the world. I have the right to be healthy and confident without asking for sexual harrassment and assault. We have a right to speak up for ourselves. We don’t have to be sorry all the time and it is not our fault when we are the target of bullying or sexual harrassment or assault. I am certainly not ever asking for it. And the only thing you need to change is knowing that you deserve to be heard and respected. No one has any ownership over you.
There will be harmful people in this world. But we are not submissive. We are Special Agents.
Through the dark, light will prevail. I have a responsibility to bring you some light and hope through the thing that saves me every time my soul takes a beating. Music. You are fabulous. Share kindness, love and have fun with people who deserve your time, energy and heart.
The people I have chosen to surround myself with are wonderful people. They are supportive of me as my true self.
I share my stories to highlight that I, just like you am on this path in life where it seems at every turn there is something trying to drag me down.
Thank you for reading. This stuff was pretty hard for me to write. And you took the time to actually read it. Thank you.
So, what do you think? Tell me on Twitter http://twitter.com/katjaglieson and use the hashtag #NotAskingForIt