Most celebrities are not born famous. Many have had the same kind of childhood and upbringing as the rest of us, having to deal with bullies along the way. Howard Stern is a good example, he had to go to judo school just to learn to defend himself against one bully who would constantly beat him up. There is something empowering about hearing the stories of those who have been bullied and not only survived it, went on to become successful. Many speak up about having been bullied and try to teach others about the effects and how serious it is.
If you look at the list of the many stellar celebrities who endured bullying as children it gives kids going through it today both great role models as well as lots of hope that they too can survive the taunting and pain of bullying. Have a look at ten celebrities who not only survived being bullied, they built strength, thrived and succeeded in life, giving them the last laugh.
10. Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato is no stranger to bullying. She says: “I had a really tough time when I was in middle school. Stating, “people would write ‘hate petitions’ and send them around to be signed. They’d have CD-bashing parties of my demos. They’d come to my house, stand across the street and yell things. It was a very emotional time for me, and all I wanted to do was get away.” Fortunately, Lovato has made it to the “other side,” and is now drawing on those painful experiences as the new ambassador for Secret’s “Mean Stinks” campaign (see photo). The campaign encourages girls to “gang up for good” to end bullying in schools. “I heard about the program last year, and thought it was such a great opportunity,” Lovato says. “They’re really trying to put an end to bullying.”
9. Michael Phelps
Often bullied about his lisp and his big ears, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps said in an interview, “It’s kind of crazy. When I do go visit where I used to live [in Baltimore], I still see the same people who were picking on me. They’re still around, probably still acting the same way. They’ll try to talk to me and I’m thinking, ‘Yeah, why are talking to me now? You were picking on me then.” Clearly bullying did not hold Phelps back in the least. He went on to earn 18 gold Olympic medals and retired at the age of 27.
8. Sandra Bullock
As beautiful and as well-dressed as Sandra Bullock is today, as a child she was teased and bullied constantly. She would travel to Europe with her family and then come home to go back to school. Back then Bullock was picked on by schoolmates for her poor taste in clothing. Bullock stating “I’d come back [to school] from Europe and I looked like a clown compared to the cool way the other students looked and dressed. So I got my butt whooped a little bit… Kids are mean, and the sad thing is that I can still remember the first and last names of every one of those kids who were mean to me!” Not sure if they would have anything bad to say to her now.
7. Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake has not only been the lead singer of the very successful boy band, In Sync he successfully moved on as a solo singing artist and a film actor. As a child he was made fun of because of his acne and for having, “weird” hair. Boys also taunted Justin because of his love for music over sports. Says Timberlake: “I grew up in Tennessee, and if you didn’t play football, you were a sissy. I got slurs all the time because I was in music and art . . . I was an outcast in a lot of ways . . . but everything that you get picked on for or you feel makes you weird is essentially what’s going to make you sexy as an adult.” Timberlake definitely has many reasons to smile.
6. Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise had a tough childhood. The actor was bullied because of his height and size as well as his dyslexia, at 15 different schools he attended. Tom cites the childhood stigma of his dyslexia diagnosis as a contributing factor to his conversion to Scientology.
5. Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga opened up about being bullied as a child admitting the words still hurt her today. The singer, whose real name is Stefani Germanotta, said she was picked on for a host of reasons. “All sorts of things. They said I had a big nose and I had buckteeth.”
“I got really bullied. I had a nice group of friends, but getting picked on in school — it sticks with you for life and I don’t think I realized how deeply it affected me until I started to become more successful and suddenly there’s lots of pressure and you have to be a role model,” she said. “I had to look inside myself and say, ‘Well, what do I have to offer?’ Because for so many years I felt like I didn’t have very much to offer.”
Today Lady Gaga along with her mother have launched “Born This Way Foundation” which is aimed to inspire young people to be kind and to build better communities. As one of the best-selling recording artists of all time, she has repeatedly encouraged her fans to “be someone that nurtures.” With her new foundation, Lady Gaga is poised to do much more.
4. Chris Rock
Today comedian Chris Rock can joke about almost anything, and make light of all sorts of subjects and situations. Not so as a child, say Rock: “I was bussed to a school in Gerristen Beach in Brooklyn in 1972. I was one of the first black kids in the history of the school,” he said. “I was spit on every day.” He also grew up in a mostly white neighborhood and says he was always subject to race-based bullying. While none of this was funny or laughable at the time Chris Rock took his childhood experiences and put them into a television show called, “Everybody Hates Chris” which inspired one of his former teachers to write Rock an apology letter.
Growing up in Barbados, Rihanna also says she was a victim of bullying. Because of her light complexion and green eyes Rihanna states that she was teased—to the point of fist fights—for having paler skin than other black children. She says, “I was cultured in a very ‘black’ way. But when I got to school I’m being called ‘white’…they would look at me, and they would curse me out. I didn’t understand.” Rihanna is now a platinum recording artist and she continues to record hit songs.
2. Christian Bale
Christian Bale starred in “Empire of the Sun” when he was 13 years old Bale claims he was instantly hated by his schoolmates who constantly beat him up. Bale: “It was not a great time. I was a victim of bullying and had other kids kicking and punching me every day. I was confused about other people’s reactions to me, both good and bad. It can mess anyone up.” As a Academy Award winning actor Bale surely did get the last laugh.
1. Jessica Alba
Jessica Alba says she was very shy and awkward as a child. She says she was bullied so badly that her dad used to have to walk her to school everyday to make sure she was not attacked. Alba: “I’d eat my lunch in the nurses’ office so I didn’t have to sit with the other girls. Apart from my being mixed race, my parents didn’t have money so I never had the cute clothes or the cool back pack,” Jessica Alba’s father is a second-generation Mexican-American and her mother has Danish and French ancestry.
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