See the Beautiful Photos That Give Bullying a Black Eye

Visual artist Tal Peleg demonstrates that stinging words leave a lasting impression.

(Photo: Tal Peleg/Instagram, Model/Arielle Sharvit)

Jul 16, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Samantha Cowan is an associate editor for culture.

Ugly. Fat. Pathetic. Slut. Seeing those kinds of insults on the Internet is all too common, and Israeli-based visual artist Tal Peleg has had enough of the bullying. Peleg normally uses her artistic skills to turn human eyelids into colorful peacocks, re-creations of Salvador Dalí paintings, or iconic movie scenes. But now she’s sharing anti-bullying images with her more than 350,000 Instagram and Facebook followers and turning the spotlight on the damage name-calling can do.

Peleg’s most recent creation shows a face full of despair, with tearful shards containing insults streaming down the model’s cheeks.

“Words are powerful. They can make someone’s day, but they can also be very dangerous and harmful. Words hurt, and they can even kill,” she captioned the image. “Be kind to one another, and remember there is someone behind the screen, so choose your words carefully...they have more power than you think.”

The picture garnered thousands of likes, comments, and shares—which was what Peleg wanted. “I have a lot of followers, so I try to use my exposure to raise awareness to an important cause,” she wrote in an email to TakePart.

This isn’t the first time Peleg has used art to take a stand against bullying. Another image uses similar shards closing in on one person, representing isolation and loneliness.

(Photo: Tal Peleg/Instagram)

So, Why Should You Care? Name-calling and other insults do cause harm. Bullying victims are between 7 and 9 percent more likely to consider suicide. As many as 160,000 K–12 students miss school every day to avoid physical or verbal bullying.

Peleg has received the occasional nasty comment for her eye-art pieces, but her connection to bullying comes from childhood. She explained that she felt helpless watching her best friend being teased relentlessly for her weight. Such torment would have been significantly worse with the popularity of social media, she wrote.

Online harassment allows insults to live on in perpetuity while also granting the bully anonymity. Few repercussions and the stream of cruel comments that populate many social media platforms—Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, Instagram—make this kind of treatment seem almost normal. On Twitter, more than 100,000 harassing messages are sent weekly, according to a 2012 study. “Everybody can be a bully these days, sometimes without even paying attention to it,” wrote Peleg. It’s all too easy to hurl an insult at a stranger without considering the person on the receiving end.

Just as online comments can cause harm, raising awareness through the same medium has the potential to halt a casual commentator. “If everyone would think twice before they write or say something and think how would they feel if someone said the same thing to them,” Peleg wrote, “it can make a change.”