Don’t judge a book by its cover

Cathy Brownfield

Have you watched small children as they play together, noticed that they are so generous, so forgiving, so loving? They accept everyone. They squabble over something and five minutes later they are best friends again. They are honest and unafraid of conflict, going directly to the heart of the matter and resolving it. Everything is black and white – no gray areas. They are true, genuine, authentic selves.


Over time everything, directed by society, changes. Children go through the stages of development and become less accepting of everyone. (Everyone has biases.) And bullying becomes a thing because there are always those who appear to be different.

“Being seen by peers as ‘different’ such as being overweight or underweight, can be one of the biggest reasons why kids experience bullying,” says a report from

Body-shaming. Judging the heart and soul of another human being by outward appearances. As the old adage says, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” (Ha! I bought a book for its beautiful cover recently. I wish the story between the covers measured up to the marketing package!)

The risks of a child being bullied includes:


— He or she is thought of as “different,” for any number of reasons like weight issues, eyeglasses, clothes they wear, how they identify. They just aren’t perceived as “cool.”

— They appear weak and unable to defend themselves.

— The person is depressed, anxious, has low self-esteem.

— He or she isn’t popular and doesn’t have a lot of friends.

— He or she does not get along well with others, is seen to be annoying or antagonizes others to get attention.

I laughed with the boys who called me four-eyes because I wore eyeglasses. In junior high, A girl in my class was always scowling. Then she decided to bicker with me on a regular basis, to the point that she challenged me to list how many friends I actually had to compare to her list and prove that she was more popular than I was. I wish I could say I wasn’t affected by that. When I was a freshman in high school, there was an upperclassman boy who annoyed and antagonized me every single day of school and every single time he saw me throughout the day. He was in the “in” crowd. I was in the “independent” crowd. Grade 9 was a challenging year for me. So was Grade 10. But I kept putting one foot in front of the other. Independent. But not weak. And I was quite capable of defending myself. And looking through the bullies like they were air, not there, unable to hurt me.

If all you know about that “fat” person is that he or she is obese, you may well be missing out on one of the best friends you could ever have in your life. But if you are judging the book by

its cover, you are never going to know. However, if you opt to get to know that person, you are going to be as much a blessing in that person’s life as she or he is in yours.

Go in peace.

Family Recovery Center has professional staff who are ready to listen when you have no one else to talk to. The goal is for the health and well-being of all. Contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or email Visit the website at You can find Family Recovery Center at Facebook. FRC is funded in part by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.