What you say is what you are

23rd June 2000 at 01:00
Charities fear duo's lyrics will make playtimes a misery for some. Julie Henry reports.

A CHART-TOPPING song by teenage pop duo Daphne and Celeste will give bullying gangs of girls ammunition to taunt classmates, it was claimed this week.

The American singers are riding high in the charts with "U.G.L.Y." - a record including the lyrics "you got eyes like a pig and your nose is big" and "you're so fat and ugly with a belly full of flab, when you wear a yellow coat people shout out 'Cab!'".

Now fears have been raised by children's charities that the song will be chanted in playgrounds, making life more of a misery for vulnerable pupils.

Hereward Harrison, head of policy for ChildLine, said the song was offensive and upsetting.

"The name-calling in 'U.G.L.Y.' is just the sort of thing that young people call ChildLine about every day and is likely to encourage verbal bullying," he added.

Gaby Shenton, from children's charity Kidscape, said: "This song is about girls taunting girls and we have already seen a massive increase of girl-on-girl bullying, 50 per cent in the past three years.

"Girl gangs are getting worse and the levels of violence are getting worse.

"While people in their 40s and 50s who were bullied talked about being pinched or having their pigtails pulled, pupils bullied today can be punched, have sanitary towels thrown at them or knives pulled on them."

Coroners' inquests ound that 14 children killed themselves last year as a direct result of bullying - double the number killed by a stranger. A further 380 children who killed themselves had some element of being bullied by other children in their history.

Clare Cooper, children and young people's service manager at the Changing Faces charity which works with children and adults with disfigurements, said: "Young people face increasing pressure to conform to the perfect image and at a younger and younger age.

"Songs which appear to encourage taunting people who look a certain way, could contribute to reinforcing the insecurities and difficulties that many young people may already feel."

Ms Cooper, a clinical psychologist, said teachers should not use the "just ignore them" approach when helping pupils cope with taunting.

"A more effective strategy might be to equip and coach a pupil with a few smart words, like 'twinkle, twinkle little star - what you say is what you are.' They can then repeat the phrase to themselves or aloud."

But Daphne and Celeste released a statement defending "U.G.L.Y." as "fun".

"It's just meant to be fun - tongue-in-cheek. We're not supermodels ourselves you know," they said. "We don't care what people think of us, so others should not care what people think of them."

'You got eyes like a pig and your

nose is big.

You're so fat and

ugly with a belly full of flab'

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