They called the new girl a "slut" and hid her crutches. One of them whispered loud enough for her victim to hear, "I don't want her on my team." High school mean girls? No, these are glamorous high-heeled adults starring on Bravo's reality TV show, "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills."
This ritualistic example of so-called adults on reality TV shows displaying "let's gang up on the new girl" behavior was recently condemned by another "Real Housewife" in an interview earlier this week. "Unfortunately I do think that reality TV has spawned a whole culture of bullying," lamented Phaedra Parks, who stars in the Atlanta version of the "Real Housewives" franchise.
After Kim and Kyle Richards -- the sisters of Paris Hilton's mom, Kathy -- dug their chicly manicured claws into Brandi Glanville at a game night hosted by another "new girl" Dana Wilkey, many viewers were appalled at how vicious adult women could be to each other. Glanville -- the former wife of LeAnn Rimes' husband and "Playboy Club" actor Eddie Cibrian -- received twillions of tweets from fans outraged at her being treated like a human pin cushion.
What made the situation worse was the silent complicity of the other women in the room who could have stopped the bullies in their tracks. Dana Wilkey, who was hosting the party, seemed to bask in her newfound acceptance and wasn't about to risk losing a rung on the social ladder by sticking up for the other newb.
Camille Grammer, who was the target of taunts last season, seemed uncomfortable keeping her mouth shut but dared not defend the former model and jeopardize her own hard-won acceptance. Taylor Armstrong, meanwhile, must have still been searching for her voice, though she claims to have finally found it in the show's intro. She ultimately put a stop to the nonsense -- but did not call out the perps Kyle and Kim, without whose approval she would no longer be a popular girl.
Experts on bullying call the Danas, Camilles and Taylors of a bullying incident "bystanders," whose inaction makes them unwitting accomplices in the bullying. Just as painful as being bullied is knowing there are people around who can stop the bullies and choose -- for whatever reason -- not to.
Even though Kyle Richards later acted mortified by her behavior on her Bravo blog -- "Watching myself laugh like that I was thinking, 'Oh, my gosh, all I needed was a broom and a wart on the end of my nose!'" -- her words rang hollow since she displayed the same sort of bullying behavior toward her sister Kim and former rival Camille last season.
With November proclaimed Anti-Bullying Month, Lady Gaga shines as a bright star in the battle against the upsurge of this anti-social behavior. The shock popster recently announced the formation of her Born This Way Foundation, an anti-bullying advocacy group. "Together we hope to establish a standard of bravery and kindness, as well as a community worldwide that protects and nurtures others in the face of bullying and abandonment," she said.
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- Brandi Glanville