Penshoppe leads anti-bullying #IAmDifferent campaign

MANILA, Philippines – There’s no denying the power of social media. As we get obsessed with documenting our every move online, the pressure to look and act a certain way increases over time.

Suddenly, everyone is living perfect lives, hiding behind a well-curated feed of meticulously filtered photos and clever captions.

“A lot of people have lives online that they pretend to be because it’s so nerve-racking to be yourself,” says Victoria Herrera of SheTalks Asia.

Teenagers, especially, have the tendency to hide their true selves for fear of being judged. A recent study shows that 80% of Filipino teens aged 13 to 16 have been cyber bullied through social media. More than ever, it has become easier to hide behind a computer (or phone) screen and criticize one’s physical appearance, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and even religious beliefs.

 

Cesca Litton, Victoria Herrera, Cheyenne dela Fuente, Anne Labayoga, and Jeff Bascon during the launch of Penshoppe's 'I am Different' campaign.' Photos by Precious del Valle/Rappler

Cesca Litton, Victoria Herrera, Cheyenne dela Fuente, Anne Labayoga, and Jeff Bascon during the launch of Penshoppe's 'I am Different' campaign.

' Photos by Precious del Valle/Rappler

 

What’s worse is people start to think of it as “normal.”  

“More and more people are throwing hurtful words out there because they see everyone doing it. You can use social media to spread positivity but on the other end of the spectrum you can use it to destroy people,” says Jeff Bascon, Penshoppe’s brand director.

In an effort to start the conversation about the pressing issue of bullying in the country, Penshoppe launched it’s first public CSR project called #IAmDifferent. 

“Our society, especially today’s youth, faces the harsh reality of bullying just because we may look or act differently from others. Penshoppe believes that there is a need for us to use our voices and influence everyone to take a stand against bullying,” Bascon said during the launch of the campaign.

Penshoppe's creative director Jeff Bascon

TFP fellow Anne Labayoga shared that most kids who were victims of bullying, both online and offline, don’t get to reach their fullest potential. After getting bullied by their peers, many of them refuse to participate in class activities, worried that it will only draw attention to their flaws.

The sad part is, even after these kids finally muster the courage to open up to their teachers, some only chalk it up to harmless teasing.

“Some teachers they ignore it, no offense, but siguro it’s because of the workload so they tend to ignore it. Kasi baka di pa naman seryoso (Because it might not be serious). This is a very nice campaign and advocacy to really teach the teachers. Give them awareness on what [bullying] is really about. Kung gaano s’ya kalala, gaano kalaki ‘yung impact ng bullying sa isang estudyante, lalo sa grade school (How serious and wide the impact of bullying is to a student, especially in grade school),” says Labayoga.

Bullying doesn’t always involve full-on confrontations. Nowadays, it’s usually a lot of backbiting and sending screenshots to a group chat. Call it the modern Burn Book, if you will. It involves a lot of social exclusion.

Girl-on-girl cattiness is not something new. But Herrera believes that it’s possible to stop this horrible habit once and for all. According to her, if you see your group’s conversation heading to that direction, it’s best to nip it in the bud.

Bella Hadid wears the 'Different Is Good' shirt

 

Mario Maurer is proud to be different

 

 

 

 

“If you identify certain language or behavior becoming negative, you can try to change the conversation. If they don’t want to change the conversation, they continue to bash or pick on someone, maybe its time to analyze why you’re siting there and if it’s the group of people you really want to be around. Do you really want to be around people who put other people down?”

Should you find yourself being a victim of bullying, child behavior and psychology expert Cheyenne dela Fuente said that the best you could do is walk away. According to her, bullies crave power and attention. Refusing to give them what they goes to show that you’re a much stronger person than they are.

“Don’t react because you [will] just empower them. When you react, you’ve given them the power, you’ve given them the platform. So don’t react, just walk away.”

As part of the campaign, the brand’s newest collection features shirts and caps emblazoned with campaign statements, “I Am Different” and “Different is good.” The back is also printed with a serial number, unique to each shirt, to represent individuality.

Proceeds from the #IAmDifferent collection will benefit development of a module that discourages bullying and encourage acceptance in public school children, in partnership with Teach For The Philippines (TFP). – Rappler.com

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