Taylor Swift: Taking on Her Bullies

Bullying and anti-bullying are buzz words all over the education arena these days.  How do we identify bullies?  What should we do with bullies?  What are those who are bullied supposed to do?

Honestly, I know that there is a lot to this.  I know that kids are being picked on.  I know that it hurts.  I know that it causes deep wounds.  However, we learn from every hard thing in our lives.  Like coal turning into diamonds, the pressure we feel encourages us to be better – if we are encouraged to be better.  I have learned very little from the times in my life when I have felt good about myself.  I have learned from the hard times.

I have learned resiliency.  And where is that in any of the curriculum around bullying?

I think that we all need to rethink bullying in terms of how Taylor Swift showed us how she deals with bullies earlier this week at the Grammy award show.

During the 2009 MTV  video music award show, Kanye West interrupted her acceptance speech by taking away the microphone and saying, “Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’ll let you finish, but Beyoncé has one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!”

How awful!  What a bully!  Seriously – there is no other word for that rude “gesture.”

I am sure that many Taylor Swift fans wondered what she would in response to that horrible man’s publically humiliating attack on her.

Instead of taking Kanye to court (the grown up version of a school child telling the teacher), Taylor decided that she would take the high road.  She kept doing what she does best – writing music and singing it.  And winning awards.

On Sunday night, Taylor Swift took home a Grammy award for her song “Mean.”  And her acceptance speech was awesome!

“There’s really no feeling quite like writing a song about someone who’s completely mean to you and completely hates you, and then winning a Grammy for it.”

In the performance on the live telecast, she even changed the words in the final chorus…

Someday – I’ll be singing this at the Grammy’s…

And all you’ll ever be is mean…

I think that this whole scenario should be worked into the curriculum that we use in schools for bullying (if we even use curriculum, but that is another blog altogether!).  Making something great like a Grammy award winning song from a really horrible experience is a great way to deal with adversity.

What did Taylor have in her resource bucket that allowed her to do this?  That is what we need to focus on with students.  Instead of developing anti-bullying curriculum, let’s give all students the resources – the assets – that they need in order to be great participants in society.  The Search Institute provides excellent resources for schools, parents, and community leaders in this area of building assets, forming resiliency, and helping students become healthy, productive citizens.

That is where I believe our focus should be so that students learn to deal with any adversity that comes their way and turn a horrible situation into a Grammy award winning performance.

6 thoughts on “Taylor Swift: Taking on Her Bullies

  1. So your solution to bullying is to figure out how to turn the bullied kids into Taylor Swift? Hate to break it to you, but not everyone has that sort of skill set in their “resource bucket.” Bullying occurs in part when there is no clear message from the adults in a community that it is unacceptable.

    • Sybil: my solution to bullying is to give all kids – even those who would be bullies – the skill set that they need to be able to rise out of situations that have caused them harm. A victim mentality does no one any good. And having a society filled with victims rather than overcomers will lead us to destruction. As you know, most bullies have been bullied themselves, so they need this resource bucket as much as those who they bully. I highly recommend that you do some reading about the developmental assets research that is available from the Search Institute. The idea is to assist all students in being productive members of society and, thus, eliminating bullying and victims by creating resilient young people who know their place in society because of the way that the adults – in their families and outside – have assisted them in growing into this knowledge.

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  4. I don’t like some of the messages in the anti-bullying videos. They try to comfort young people by telling them they can one day be successful as in above average successful. Not everyone can. Some kids only have the potential to do working class jobs. I was one of them. I had only a average IQ and a long list of learning disabilities. It is depressing thinking to have any self esteem you have to prove yourself by growing up and becoming a doctor or something. The working class is bullied and looked down upon and probably shouldn’t be. We get terms like “trailer trash” thrown at us.

    There is no shame in being disabled. But the only message I am seeing for a happy ending is not the ending a lot of kids are going to have. They know it to. Misery as motivation only works as far as your ability level. The only artist who did a decent job with the bullying issue was GaGa who,in “Born this Way” encouraged people to love themselves “whether broke or evergreen” (rich or poor)

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