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Monika Sudakov

The Problematic Bullying In Cooking Shows Like 'Rat In The Kitchen'

I was a late bloomer to cooking. As a teenage ballerina, food was off my radar and I really didn’t understand what all the hype was. When my husband and I moved to Las Vegas in 1999 I started working on my graduate studies in cultural anthropology. Early on, I took a class in Nutritional Anthropology and fell in love with the study of food and culture. I began reading cookbooks for research and dabbling in the kitchen as a hobby. It was a creative outlet that relaxed me, intrigued me, and that I was pretty naturally good at. In February 2003, I was scheduled to undergo diagnostic laparoscopy to determine if I had endometriosis . The recovery time was supposed to be a week. Unfortunately, the incision in my belly button got a staph infection which left me laid up for over a month, bored, and not able to physically do much. It was during this period that I discovered the Food Network. Initially, I was drawn to the informational and educational programs featuring chefs like Sarah Moulton, Gale Gand, and of course reruns of the inimitable Julia Child. I’d watch hours of cooking shows, jotting down recipe ideas and learning basic culinary techniques. Once I recovered, I kept at it. Cooking became a passion that eventually became a profession. Fast-forward to 2005, when my husband and I opened our bed and breakfast and restaurant. I quickly became known locally, thanks to regular appearances on local television doing the same kind of educational yet entertaining cooking segments I had come to appreciate from the Food Network. Because I had a bachelor’s degree in media performance, being in front of the camera felt comfortable and it became apparent that I was an instinctive teacher. A little seed got planted in my brain that one day: I could be the next Julia Child. I continued to do regular TV appearances and by then, I was teaching cooking classes to groups of 25-30 on a monthly basis. It was about this time that reality competition shows were becoming all the rage. Shows like “Chopped,” “Top Chef,” and “The Taste” were gaining in popularity and were constantly looking for new talent. It seemed like a great way to get my foot in the door, so I began auditioning in earnest. I thought if creativity, talent, and ability to cook in front of a camera were what they needed, I’d be a shoo-in. The first few auditions I attended were cattle call style, meaning hundreds of chefs would show up with their applications, food photos, and in some cases a prepared dish to sample for the casting directors. On numerous occasions we’d have to wait out in the hot blazing sun for hours, worrying that our food would spoil and slowly watching our make-up melt off our faces. It was grueling and felt less like it was about the food and more like it was about appearances. But… I wasn’t deterred. Would I be willing to sabotage another contestant? Talk smack at them? Intimidate them? After a few tries, I started figuring out what they were looking for. I adjusted my look a bit. Brighter hair color, more edgy haircut, slightly more form-fitting clothes. I learned the types of dishes and plating they gravitated to, what answers they wanted to certain questions, and what types of food photos they liked. I started getting callbacks from casting directors, producers, and agents. The general consensus was that I had a great look, I was bubbly, and my food looked beautiful. Time and time again, I’d get through two callbacks… then three …then, I started getting contracts to sign for nondisclosure and liability waivers. It felt like at any moment, one of these shows was gonna finally pan out. And then…crickets. Or worse, I’d be told that everyone really loved me but that I was too short compared to all the other contestants. It was deflating and, frankly, both time-consuming and costly. After a few years of trying, newer concepts for shows began popping up. Auditions consisted less and less about the food and more and more about how much I’m willing to do in order to win. Would I be willing to sabotage another contestant? Talk smack at them? Intimidate them? Was I “mean enough”? Did I have it in me to cheat? Would I tell them about the worst thing that ever happened in my life, like my deepest, darkest trauma ? I always tried to answer in ways that showed my sincere belief that I could win while remaining noncommittal to doing anything that in my view felt like bullying or debasing myself. I was beginning to realize that what I had envisioned as my stepping stone to becoming the next Julia Child incarnate was feeling farther and farther away. The shows that were strictly educational had almost all been replaced with some iteration of a reality competition show where contestants would do the most cringeworthy things to their opponents to come out on top. That wasn’t what I signed up for, nor was it in my integrity as a chef or a person, so I quit auditioning. Fast-forward to today. Media, particularly social media, has become all about shock and awe. Negativity and even violence are expected and there doesn’t seem to be space for the nice chef next door to even be a part of the conversation. Shows like “Rat In The Kitchen” reward harassment, dishonesty, and behavior that, to me, doesn’t belong anywhere — especially in the kitchen where, in my humble opinion, ingredients should be respected and food should be prepared with love. On my healing journey from trauma , including extensive bullying, I have discovered that the dehumanization of anyone in any capacity goes against my values and is harmful. I refuse to perpetuate spaces and environments where violence of any kind toward another person is condoned and encouraged. My boundaries protecting myself and others haven’t come at a cheap price and the possibility of 10 seconds of fame isn’t worth compromising all that I have worked so hard toward in therapy. I might never be a celebrity chef, but I will always go to bed at night knowing that my culinary talents are being utilized in ways reflecting the heart of who I want to be. And you know what? That means that I truly won. You can watch Monika Sudakov’s cooking show appearances here.

Pink Shirt Day Ignores High Bullying Risk for Kids With Disabilities

February 23 is Pink Shirt Day and February is also Kindness Month. Both get lots of coverage at schools and in the media. The growing awareness of Pink Shirt Day has shone a spotlight on bullying. But has it moved the needle in preventing bullying? Not for diverse learners and kids with disabilities. While these students are most likely to be bullied, Pink Shirt Day ignores their high bullying risk. In 2021, a report by UNESDOC on violence and bullying in educational settings looked at the experience of children and young people with disabilities. What they found isn’t pretty. 1 in 20 children are living with a disability Girls with disabilities attending a rural school in the U.S. are 4x more likely to be bullied and boys with disabilities are 2.5x more likely compared to their non-disabled peers 3 in 4 children with emotional disabilities in elementary schools in the U.S. have been verbally abused at least once in a previous month Learners with disabilities are also subjected to psychological and physical violence from teachers with 75% of students (in the US) having been physically restrained and 50% involuntarily confined As a mom of diverse learners, I’ve seen these stats in real life. We had to pull one child from the public school system after years of ongoing bullying. School was no longer a safe place, and it was impacting their mental health. This included being bullied by kids wearing pink shirts on Pink Shirt Day. So, if schools know kids with disabilities are at greater risk of bullying, what isn’t more being done to prevent this? The same reason why there is no mention of February being Inclusive Education Month – because the needs of diverse learners and kids with disabilities are often overlooked and undervalued. Growing up, I saw my autistic brother get kicked, called a freak, and bullied on a daily basis. He had no friends, dreaded going to school, and had no safe space that was free from bullying – from the school bus to the classroom to the schoolyard. Meetings with school administration only stopped the bullying in the short, not the long term. Being at a different school from him, I was powerless to help him, but felt the emotional impact of my brother being relentlessly tormented. Fast forward a few decades to when my kids entered elementary school. I hoped things had changed. They haven’t. The physical, emotional, and psychological bullying, by students and staff, is relentless. They are either the target of the bullying or are witnessing another student being bullied. New Conversations I feel a big piece that is missing in preventing bullying is the conversation about inclusive education and the gifts diverse learners bring to the classroom. Much of the conversation about disabilities is deficit-based and reiterates false biases – kids with ADHD can’t focus, autistic kids have meltdowns, kids with diverse needs are disruptive to the classroom, and more. When a child with disabilities or a diverse learner is bullied, too often the first question is, what did they do to provoke the attack? The boy with Tourette syndrome must have irritated his classmate with his ticks, or the girl with ADHD had her chair pulled out from her because she was wiggling too much. The blame is often placed on the child being bullied instead of the aggressor. It’s time to shift the conversation to how to support these amazing kids. This starts with talking about the strengths of diverse learners and kids with disabilities. It includes acknowledging and celebrating what they can teach others – empathy, curiosity, patience, a new way of looking at things. We need to break down assumptions and misconceptions that have been passed from generation to generation. These are the assumptions teachers bring to the classroom, parents and caregivers hold and pass on to their kids, which perpetuates for another generation. Wouldn’t it be great to celebrate Inclusive Education Month like we do Pink Shirt Day? Talk about the amazing accomplishments of diverse learners like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jane Austen, Thomas Edison, Steven Spielberg, Bob Dylan, and more. These are the people who gave us musical masterpieces (Beethoven and Mozart), made us laugh (Jerry Seinfeld and Darryl Hannah), reinvented the world around them (Albert Einstein and Tim Burton), and brought beauty to life (Michelangelo and Vincent van Gogh). Our schools need to build up and support diverse learners and kids with disabilities and find meaningful ways to end bullying. Pink shirts are not enough.

Community Voices

Inclusion Driven by a Pinewood Derby Race

<p>Inclusion Driven by a Pinewood Derby Race</p>
Community Voices

cyber bullying

hi everyone. i get cyber bullied and people make fake accounts to harass me and blackmail me. i’m trying not to let it affect me but i can’t. i avoid school and switched all my classes online just so i wouldn’t have to face some people who have harassed me in the past, and now i get scared to go on social media in fear someone may harass me again what should i do?? i know if i delete social media i’ll be bored so can anyone give advice?? i just don’t know how to let this stop affecting me. #Bullying #MentalHealth #Pledge2EndBullying

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Monika Sudakov

My Bullies Thought My Scars Were From Self-harm and Suicide

As a child, I wasn’t a stranger to being bullied. Frankly, I cannot recall a time in my life from preschool through college when there wasn’t somebody picking on me for something. I was a shy, socially awkward child who was extremely serious… an adult in a child’s body, likely a product of being sexually abused and a parentified child. Kids thought I was weird. And as kids often do, they’ll find anything and everything to pick on when they determine that you are an easy target. My clothes weren’t fashionable enough; I was a little pudgy; I had glasses; I had a high forehead; I wasn’t naturally athletic; I was a teacher’s pet; I didn’t have any friends. The list went on and on. At one point in the fifth grade, it had gotten so bad that I finally rebelled and got into a fight with a girl who had been relentlessly teasing me the entire school year. I tackled her to the ground and pulled her hair. Teachers broke up the fight and when they asked me why I did what I did, I told them about the bullying. I was given detention; the girl was not. I was sent to a “self-esteem camp” to deal with my “behavioral issues,” which was essentially a place where I was told that I should never fight back against bullies, I should simply ignore them and this would eventually stop their bullying. We all know how absurd that advice is. Needless to say, I learned my lesson well — “No matter what anyone says or does to terrorize you, don’t speak up because it’ll be your fault anyway.” This worldview was reinforced by what I was experiencing at home. “If you are sad, mad, or have any negative feeling, don’t say anything because it’ll just upset your mother and she can’t handle it.” So I learned silence, complacency, and obedience. They were my only options for survival both at home and at school. In the seventh grade, a freak accident occurred that ended up changing my life forever. My grandmother and I had gone to the grocery store. As we always did, we were buying some Ocean Spray cranberry juice, which at the time only came in glass bottles. That day, all of the glass bottles of cranberry juice were stacked precariously in a pyramid along the end cap of one of the grocery aisles. When I went to grab one of the bottles off the top of the stack, the entire pyramid of glass bottles came tumbling down. Bottle after bottle of juice shattered into a million shards of glass, spilling juice all over the floor. As I tried to move out of the way to avoid the crashing bottles, I slipped in the juice and fell onto the broken glass. The glass punctured my right wrist right across my radial and ulnar arteries, the main arteries in your arm that supply blood to the forearm and hand. The wound began to bleed profusely, alarming the store management and prompting them to call an ambulance. As it turned out, the wound went deep, but did not puncture the artery, which could have been potentially fatal. They stitched up my wrist and wrapped it extensively with gauze to keep it clean. The next day, I went to school and while I was still reeling from the trauma of the incident itself, I was met with a trauma that I neither expected nor could have prepared myself for: several of my classmates ganged up on me and started to accuse me of attempting to kill myself. They kept pointing at the bandage, laughing at me, insisting that I was suicidal like that was something amusing. I kept protesting that it wasn’t so, attempting to explain the story of what happened, but nobody believed me. As I write this, I can feel the frustration, humiliation, and utter helplessness that I felt trying to stand up for myself. Then I remembered “self-esteem camp.” I knew that it was futile to argue. So, I resigned myself to just accepting the narrative that my classmates had decided was true… that I had tried to kill myself. Why not? It wasn’t far from the truth. I was miserable and felt lonely all the time. I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. I didn’t feel “normal” and there were very few people who would actually believe me anyway. For the approximately four weeks that it took to heal from that wound, I had to wear that gauze. For the rest of the school year that people could see the scar that had formed on my wrist, I would endure sideways glances — judging my character, my mental state, my sanity, and sizing me up as a “freak.” That scar may have eventually faded to being almost imperceptible now, but the memory of how those kids reacted and of how it made me feel has lasted throughout my teens and into adulthood. The idea that I wasn’t good enough, that I was weird, that I didn’t belong, and that I didn’t deserve friends haunted me. I just assumed that nobody would like me because I was too different, and so I just avoided making friends. And the few friends that I did make, I somehow lost because I sabotaged the relationships for various reasons stemming from my deeply seated insecurities. It has taken until my 40s to even begin to venture into the world of friendships. I just never thought I’d be worthy of them and frankly, I was terrified of rejection. The idea of trying and then having my vulnerability used against me made me feel like solitude was basically the only option I had. It has taken a lot of effort, courage, and encouragement from my therapist and husband to put myself out there and at least try. Thankfully, I’ve found over the last five years that the right people will not only like you, but they will also celebrate all of who you are. Your quirks, your idiosyncrasies, and your peccadillos. And no matter how hurt you may be, they will never make fun of your scars, external or internal, because that’s what real friends do.

Matt Sloan

The Sign That I Was Depressed, Lonely, and Bullied in Middle School

On my first day of Middle School, I turned to a group of strangers and said six words no 11-year-old should have to say. I meant them, though, with every single part of me. They were the first real expression of my inner self, my blossoming core that had been battered and bruised and bloodied by repeated emotional strikes that, while leaving no obvious marks, worked me like a blacksmith works a blade. Just six words — innocuous, maybe a little self-pitying, but ultimately a cry for help that didn’t come. I’d already been bullied throughout Elementary School, rarely physical but mostly emotional bullying, ignored and ostracized from my peers. Although I didn’t fully realize it at the time — or perhaps couldn’t look at it because it was too painful for my young mind to acknowledge — I was often lonely. I sleepwalked through life, awash in my inner world, sometimes picturing a familiar by my side as my only companion. It was an imaginary dog, then — a huge, black hound called Shadow, shaggy and fierce and protective. I’d call to him even through my teenage years, picturing him in my mind’s eye until he came running. He was there when nobody else was, and he was a comfort in a way. However, I’m going to dispense with the lyrical for a second because there truly was nothing lyrical about this. I had a few “single-serving friends” that came and went like the common cold, but nobody truly stuck around for long enough. It quickly made me feel “Other,” like there was something fundamentally wrong with me that I couldn’t see but everybody else could see, and sense, and feel after being in my presence for just a little while. And that, dear reader, is a feeling that has stayed with me for the resulting 20-something years. You see, on that first day of Middle School, my loneliness was thrown into sharp relief. In my first class, I sat alone. I think a part of me hoped that now, in a new school, things would be different. But nobody sat beside me, and there, in front of me, sat one of the single-serving friends I knew from Elementary. He acknowledged my presence at the desk behind him and, to the unfamiliar kid seated next to him, said: “Don’t bother with him; he’s weird.” I was loud enough for me to hear. It seeped into me like poison. My new beginning already lay in tatters, and I was naive to think anything would change when some of those same people came with me. The day only got worse from there. At lunchtime, I had nobody — a theme that would continue for many lunchtimes after — so I asked an older boy for directions to the cafeteria. It’s lucky that his friend intervened because he tried sending me to the rugby pitches instead — a long and muddy walk up a gravel road, past a building site. So, they showed me the real way to get there. So far, so good, I guess. I stood in line. I asked for fries. I anxiously handed over my money because even then, anxiety whispered its lies and its secrets to me. And, then, like a bad teen movie… I had nowhere to sit. I had no friends. I recognized nobody. In that moment, I think I would’ve sat even with the single-serving friend who called me “weird” because hey, it’s better than being alone, right? He was nowhere to be seen, though, so I spotted an empty seat at a table otherwise occupied by older girls. I had to do it, I thought. I needed to eat somewhere. I sat down and understandably, perhaps, they looked at me with quizzical eyes. I tried not to make eye contact even while one said, “who are you?” I kept my eyes down, focused on the scattered fries on the plate, and spoke those six innocuous but self-pitying words: “Nobody you would like to know.” They laughed, those girls. One said, “Did you hear what he just said?” The memory becomes blurry after that, but I can feel the humiliation and hear their laughter even now, reaching out over the gulf of those intervening years. Things haven’t changed; not really, at least as far as I can see. When a therapist took me through a thought exercise in which I met my inner child along a country path, she asked me what happened — what I saw, what I felt. “He’s lonely,” I told her. “He feels so alone and he doesn’t know how to trust me.” He doesn’t. I don’t. I don’t know how to trust you, dear reader, because those years of loneliness and isolation have left their indelible scars on the fabric of my soul. I still feel Other . When something happens to trigger those beliefs, as they did just days ago, I see danger in the shadows of every interaction, even with those who would profess to be my friends. There’s something deeply, fundamentally wrong with me, and I can’t quite find what it is. It’s a theme that made its way into my novel, ‘The Shadows at Sunrise,’ in the form of its main character — a teen who, due to supernatural circumstance, is ostracized and hated by everyone he encounters until he finds the one person who doesn’t, and the reality-shattering reason why. But there is no supernatural circumstance for me. Just depression, trauma, and the scars that bullying can leave upon a person. The friendships I have appear to be fleeting. The people who have left are confirmation that my core belief — that “I don’t matter” — is true. The people who are still here — even my loving fiancé, who understands me better than anyone else? It’s only a matter of time for them. That’s what my inner child says, anyway. He’s still hurting. He’s got his guard up because it’s too dangerous to let people in. He’s still sitting alone in that cafeteria while others laugh at him. He’s still walking the halls of the school every lunchtime, feeling eyes upon him even where there are none. He still feels invisible and Other in crowded rooms and in rooms where it’s just him and somebody else who says they know and love him. Even now, he feels like he is nobody you would like to know. If you can relate, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. You can also follow me on my blog at mattsloanwrites.com, or follow me on Twitter @mattsloanwrites.

Community Voices

Research in giftedness

I was bullied and misunderstood a lot when I was young, for a handful of reasons. I also 'enjoyed' periods of popularity when other kids found my personality quirky, and I began to develop physically (boobs, another one of those is it a gift or disadvantage things).

Recently, I have been learning about different types of giftedness and how it can influence our development as children. The most recent term that I have come across is double gifted, meaning that a person has a high IQ but also a learning disability. One can make the other one go unnoticed.

I was always quick to finish assignments, would go all in and above on some, and on others, I couldn't focus and wouldn't hand them in. My spelling and grammar has always been atrocious, but my writing never lacked creativity. I always heard "You are so smart!" "Wow, you must be an old soul, you are wise beyond your years" but also "if she only tried harder she would be doing great", or "you are so lazy, you don't even have to try to do well, so why don't you just do it?". "Things are not even hard for you are they? You just don't care!"

Those types of comments have helped to give me all kinds of feelings of guilt and inadequacy. To some people, I have more than I deserve, and to others, I am a lazy loser. The messaging was mixed and confusing.

Only later in my life, at 30 years old, did I begin treatment for ADHD. It has helped me to understand a lot of the issues I experienced academically. I have always loved to learn, I was just easily distracted and bored with some of the work. I also struggled with spelling and the actual pronunciation of words due to my learning challenges. People still laugh at me for the way that I speak, often incorrectly, and it used to really embarrass me. Now I take it as an opportunity to learn the correct way, and I try to slow down.

Anyways, the research being done on giftedness, as well as diagnoses like ADHD, are helping me and hopefully others understand the different layers of intelligence, ability, and social understanding. I hope to see this brought into classrooms so that kids of all genders are noticed and helped early on in their lives.

When you know you are different... you know, and having all the other kids pointing it out is a quick recipe to induce further mental health concerns quite early in life. I look forward to seeing a more informed generation of adults as the research continues!

www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/experimentations/202111/one-...

#ADHDInGirls #doublegifted #newresearch #Continue to learn #LearningDisability #ADHD #anxiety #MentalHealth #Guilt #Bullying

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Community Voices

When adults are bullies as well

<p>When adults are bullies as well</p>
32 people are talking about this
Community Voices
Community Voices