This is a story of a young girl who has been cyberbullied for constantly wearing only one pair of shoes, that happens to be her favorite— meet Alee and her classic Old Skool.
It happened in early August when an anonymous account from Tellonym started bullying Alee about her style. One user criticized her shoe taste and how she owned only 1 pair of Vans, the classic Old Skool. Take note that Alee is only 11 years old and can handle only so much mental and emotional stress. More negative comments kept on coming at her but it did not bring Alee down. In fact, she handled it like a big girl would - in Bisaya we would say “gi sabay-sabayan ra.” She reasoned out how she loved her pair of Vans and why she always wore them.
Little did Alee know, she was not going to go through this alone. Eventually, people on Facebook noticed what was happening and started to share their own story of their love for Vans. They told about how they came to own their first pair, the people behind it and how they later fell in love with the brand. And the end of their post, they would show their support and compassion for the young girl coupled with the hashtag — #istandwithAlee.
As more and more people came out online to support Alee ( some even the likes of iconic barber/street icon and good friend, Willow Hoods ), we felt that nobody, young and old, rich and poor, deserve to be bullied - much less for a pair of shoes made by one of the greatest brands the world will ever know.
So we decided to invite Alee to the store to meet her and get to know more about her story. She came over with her family one bright Sunday afternoon, dressed in a t-shirt and the very pair of Vans she was bullied for. We got to know more about how loving an “ate” (big sister) she was and how she and her parents are like “barkada” (best friends), then she later on told us more her love for the brand and how amidst all the bullying, she stood up for what she believed in against all odds that were thrown her way.
We were so moved by everything that’s been going on so we gave her a new pair of Vans to wear, this time the Sk8-Hi Slim with floral insoles. To all her bullies, we stand with Alee.
Human as we are, we can only take in so much. It is in times like this when we come to realize that overcoming obstacles and facing the consequences of our decisions including standing up for our failures will help define who we are as individuals. By using our strengths to defend our individuality will always defeat the cheapest and the emptiest of words from insignificant people whose only goal in life is to destroy people they can’t seem to become, or even understand.
We are all different. We each have our own style to sport, our own journeys to take and most importantly, our own unique way of taking on the world. It is only in our appreciation for each other’s individuality that we find our true common ground.
And so to everyone out there being bullied for their choice of style, continue to stand up for who you are. Remember that people who try to bring you down are below you for a reason. We were not born to please others, nor should our styles be uniform so go out there and be yourself and the world will be a better place.