Bullying vs Self-Esteem – The Forgotten Lesson of Dumbo

I’ve been so focused on writing my current novel, time has flown by. That’s what happens when you character yanks you into her world … you get a little lost and forget the real world exists. 😉 I originally wrote this post when a teen had been bullied to the point of seeking out plastic surgery erupted in the media. I went into full rant mode, which usually produces an epic-length post, and this one was no exception. It posted in full on Rebecca Hamilton’s blog as a part of the Books Against Bullies campaign, but as I continue to see issues with bullying people over their appearance, I thought it would be a good idea to resurrect the post and break it into more bite-sized chunks.

  • The Forgotten Lesson of Dumbo

    The irony of the situation struck me almost immediately. A girl is teased for having big ears, and is told she has “elephant ears”, and is called Dumbo because of their size. And yet, when we look closely at the message of the story of Dumbo, we don’t see Dumbo going to the plastic surgeon.

    • Dumbo is born with big ears. But his mother loves him and thinks he is beautiful.
    • dumbo-hq

    • Dumbo is teased and taunted by the other elephants.
    • Throughout the story, Dumbo only has one friend (aside from his mother) who tries to cheer him up and teach him that what the others think doesn’t matter.
    • Ultimately Dumbo finds out that the one thing which has been the bane of his existence is the very thing that makes him the most special. Because of his big ears, he is the only elephant that can fly.

What is missing from Nadia’s story is the support of friends and family to help her understand that what others think about her appearance doesn’t matter. No, she’s not one day going to learn to fly with her ears, but symbolically by overcoming the teasing and taunting and learning that she is a unique and special individual, she can then soar in her own life.

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