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Aug 08.31

“I was bullied”: How one LUSH employee’s honesty got us all talking

Sina Kamran, floor leader in our LUSH Square One shop in Mississauga, Ontario recently opened up about his personal experience with bullying during the filming of Undercover Boss Canada. As a result, we invited Sina to Vancouver to develop the concept and direction for our North American campaign, Erase Bullying. In Sina’s own words, he describes his past experience being bullied, how feels about being the driving force behind our North American campaign, and the importance of creating honest dialogue around bullying.

 From a very young age, I knew I was different from the other boys on the playground. They would talk about sports teams, wrestling and the latest action films. I would talk about clothes, makeup and how badly I wanted to play the role of the princess. At the time, I thought nothing of it. I was just being myself. But as I got older, I started to get more and more attention. And it wasn't exactly the kind of attention I was looking for.

Kids at school would point at me and laugh, calling me horrific names. They made me feel like being different was wrong. I went from a happy, flamboyant preteen to someone who felt misunderstood and depressed. Walking into school was like diving into a shark tank- I was scared to even go into the bathroom. What hurt the most was that many of my peers didn't understand what I was experiencing. I felt meager and dismissed. Over time the bullying became more and more aggressive. This led to a moment in my life that would change me forever: one day after school, I was physically attacked. I have a permanent scar on my shoulder from that day.

Throughout the hurt and pain, I was lucky to have the love and support of my friends. Eventually I discovered how to express myself through dancing and art, and learned self-acceptance. Don’t get me wrong- this was a difficult process and took a lot longer than I expected. Sure, I’m not what society considers “the norm”, but I’ve embraced it! I’m a gay male and I’m happy. And that scar on my shoulder? I consider it a “love mark”, if you will. It's a constant reminder that through the ups and downs of life, there will always be people who love me as I am.

The year 2011 was one of the first times in my life that I felt completely accepted for who I was. I had joined LUSH as a sales associate at the Square One location in Mississauga, and I’d never before felt so accepted and encouraged to be myself. It quickly went from a place of work to a second home. After about a year at LUSH, I'd become confident in myself and my position, so when the opportunity arose to be featured in what I thought was a documentary about North American cosmetics companies, I jumped at the chance. I'm very passionate about my job, so to be able to share a bit about myself and speak as a representative of LUSH was mind-blowing. I met with the producer of the film, and after being asked a couple of questions about my job, she asked me a little bit about myself: my past, my childhood, and my family life. I opened up and told my story. I spoke candidly about being bullied, and how words can cut through someone like a knife. I’ve never believed in downplaying my experience, as it perpetuates the cycle of dismissing the issue.

Because of how truthful I was with my story, the producer was touched and asked me to share it in the documentary. I agreed without hesitation: it was a little scary, but it was something I wanted to share. I wanted people who are going through what I went through to know that it gets better, and that they are not alone.

After the filming wrapped up, I got a call from the producer inviting me to Vancouver to take part in a round table discussion about cosmetics. When I arrived, it was revealed that the ‘documentary’ was actually Undercover Boss Canada and I’d been completely duped! Since I had been brave enough to share my experiences with bullying, I was asked to design a campaign about bullying that would be featured in all LUSH shops across North America. I was excited and nervous, but I was ready.

When I was being bullied, all I wanted was for someone to draw attention to the subject, and to make my experiences feel warranted. I was tired of the subject being sugar-coated. When designing the campaign, I was adamant that it needed to be a true representation of the terrible experience of being bullied, and I think we’ve achieved that. We’re displaying the real, awful and offensive words that the public submitted when asked “what’s the worst thing anyone’s ever called you?” in our shop windows. This may shock people, but these are the things we hear every day in our schools and workplaces. It’s about time we started acknowledging the problem and working towards a solution.

We’re inviting our customers to interact with our windows by erasing these words. It’s my hope that by erasing one of these hurtful words, our customers will realize that they have the power to get involved in the larger solution. They can make a positive change by erasing these words from their life, by taking a stand against bullying and by educating those around them. Being bullied is not a ‘rite of passage’, or a way to ‘toughen up’. The reality is that bullying takes lives every year.

Get involved and Erase Bullying. The solution is in our hands.



If you’re experiencing bullying and need to talk, contact one of these organizations for support:


Undercover Boss Canada airs on W Network.