Obesity has become a global pandemic that not only affects adults, but also children and adolescents. It has been found that obesity among children and adolescents has emotional, social, physical and psychological ramifications, one of which is bullying. Very little has been written on the effects obesity in early adolescence has on bullying behaviour in a South African context. For this reason the researcher deemed it necessary to study the perceptions of youths in early adolescence with regard to obesity and bullying. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 35 early adolescents from the Brooklyn policing precinct in the east of Pretoria. The data were assessed through content and interpretative phenomenological analysis. Thus the researcher tried to capture the essence of each individual interview. Several themes emerged from the data analysis, of which the most noteworthy were what youths in early adolescence perceive as bullying; the influence of bullying on behaviour; a general overview of perpetrators and victims of bullying; and the correlation between an early adolescent’s body shape and victimisation. The findings give insight into how obese young adolescents are perceived and treated by their peers. Furthermore, the findings elucidate what early adolescents perceive as bullying and possible reasons for such behaviour. By identifying the perceptions held by early adolescents, programmes can be implemented to address these stereotypes, thus decreasing the potential victimisation of overweight/obese youths in early adolescence.