Bullying is a problem that has been around forever, or so it seems, and as the years progress so does the extent of bullying. So often in the news we hear about heartbreaking examples of children falling victim to brutal bullying, to the extreme that they are left feeling so hopeless they’re driven to take their own lives. At the time, it can seem that the bullying will never end, but in the grand scheme of things, high school is a mere four years of your life and there is a great, big world out there waiting for you to experience it. So just remember, there is always someone to reach out to whether it’s a parent, teacher, or a friend.
Speaking from experience, the thing you need to do if you or your child are currently dealing with bullying is to remember that the words and actions of a bully do not define you. They make events in your life dreadful but only you have the power to choose what defines you. If you are experiencing bullying in any form, you need to know that bullying is never okay in any capacity and you do not need to endure it. As difficult as it may be, dealing with bullying head on is the only way to put a stop to it.
Many celebrities have been victims of bullying in their childhood. Hopefully their stories, although sad to learn, will provide motivation to those of you who may be dealing with similar adversities.
Here is our list of 15 celebrities who rose above their bullying hardships and became the outstanding actors, musicians and celebrities they are today.
15. Zac Efron
Clearly adolescence is a hard stage in life to get through, especially if you are a boy and one who appears to be more interested in musicals than in girls, which was the case for Zac Efron. However, his love for musicals did in fact pay off, considering that after his role in High School Musical he became a dreamy sensation for young girls everywhere.
“I wasn’t a heartthrob at school; I was a geek, I was into musical theater, which isn’t perceived as the coolest thing. There were guys who were 6’ 1” with beards and big muscles and I was a gawky 17-year-old, a skinny, awkward kid. I was a late bloomer. Growing up was hell.”
14. Taylor Swift
“Shake it Off” isn’t just a song with a catchy beat, but rather a chant, one that Taylor Swift wants her fans to follow. She personally expressed her thoughts to a fan that had been struggling with being bullied. Swift is no stranger to being picked on. As a teen she kept to herself most of the time and was unpopular.
“I remember when I was in school, the whole reason I started writing songs was because I was alone a lot of the time. I’d sit there in school and I’d be hearing people like, ‘Oh my god, this party that we’re going to is going to be so awesome on Friday. Everyone’s invited except for [Taylor].’”
13. Jessica Alba
Jessica Alba is probably one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood, but having the celebrity status she now has, was far from easy for the star. Growing up was very difficult for Alba, especially being shy and awkward, not to mention having a thick Texas accent.
“I’m tough now because as a kid, I never fought back. I didn’t want to lower myself to the level of the bullies. I started to really blossom into my looks when I was about 14 or 15, but I actually felt embarrassed about being pretty. My physical strength became my hard shell.”
12. Miley Cyrus
Miley Cryus is another example of someone victimized by bullying. Not only is she bullied now, being in the limelight, but the troubled pop star has claimed that because she suffered from severe acne as a teen she was teased often, and as a result became very self-conscious. In her book, Miles to Go, she talks about being bullied by girls who shoved her into a bathroom stall and locking her in there.
“I went through a time where I was really depressed. Like, I locked myself in my room and my dad had to break my door down. It was a lot to do with… I had really bad skin and I felt really bullied because of that. But I never was depressed because of the way someone else made me feel. I was just depressed.”
11. Kate Winslet
Before getting the role of a lifetime as, Rose in the blockbuster movie Titanic, Kate Winslet was bullied for being overweight. Unfortunately, kids can be cruel, and the kids at her school locked her in an art closet and bullied her for being heavy, even going as far as giving her the dreaded nickname “Blubber”.
“I suffered from ‘No one will ever fancy me!’ syndrome, well into my teens. Even now I do not consider myself to be some kind of great, sexy beauty. Absolutely not.”
10. Jackie Chan
It’s hard to believe that a martial arts master like Jackie Chan could have ever been scared at any time in his life, but as a kid he was terrified of bullies. Chan was bullied as a child and endured the torment because he was scared and didn’t know how to put a stop to it. One day he found himself watching a new student at school being picked on and he took the opportunity to stand up to the bullies and put an end to it altogether.
“I was bullied quite a lot when I was growing up in my Peking Opera School,” he explained. “I allowed myself to be bullied because I was scared and didn’t know how to defend myself.”
9. Megan Fox
As soon as Megan Fox‘s classmates in high school discovered that she wanted to become an actress, she became a target for bullies at her school. She was bullied and teased so badly that she would spend her lunch hours eating in the bathroom to avoid being “pelted with ketchup.”
“I was bullied and it’s hard, you feel like high school’s never going to be over. It’s four years of your life and you just have to remember the person picking on you has their own problems and their own issues.”
8. Jennifer Garner
Being labeled as a nerd in school is something Jennifer Garner became accustomed to as a teen, so she’s no stranger when it comes to bullying. Now the actress speaks publicly about her experiences with bullies and how parents can protect their kids against bullying.
“I was a real nerd. I wasn’t the popular one, I was one of those girls on the edge of the group. I never wore the right clothes and I had a kind of natural geekiness. I was in the school band and I think that has a bit of a stigma at the age of 13. If you’d asked me what I wanted to be, I would have said something like a librarian.”
7. Lady Gaga
Singing diva Lady Gaga, was bullied so much as a kid that quite often she would find herself not wanting to even go to school. She was teased for her looks more than anything, making her very self-conscious, but these days judging by her fashion sense it’s fair to say that she has more confidence in her appearance.
“Being teased for being ugly, having a big nose, being annoying. ‘Your laugh is funny, you’re weird, why do you always sing, why are you so into theater, why do you do your make-up like that?”
6. Chris Rock
One of the perks about being a celebrity is that it gives you the opportunity to become a storyteller, and sometimes you can even share or recreate your own stories to help benefit others across the world. That was the case for Chris Rock in his show Everybody Hates Chris which was based on his own life and struggles he faced growing up. Through Everybody Hates Chris, he was able to expose issues of bullying, which he endured as a kid growing up in Brooklyn.
5. Demi Lovato
Growing up wasn’t always easy for Demi Lovato. She was bullied in middle-school to the point where she developed eating and self-mutilation disorders. She has come a long way, having received help with her conditions and is now an ambassador for Secret’s “Mean Stinks” Campaign, which encourages girls to rally together and put an end to bullying in schools.
“People would write ‘hate petitions’ [about me] 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.”
4. Winona Ryder
Winona Ryder was both physically and verbally abused by bullies growing up. She once told the story of wearing a used boy’s suit from the Salvation Army to school when she was attacked by her bullies. It was bad enough that they verbally abused her, but they also kicked her repeatedly and slammed her into a locker. Years later she ran into one of the bullies involved in this horrible incident, who wanted her autograph. She rightfully told them off and refused to give her autograph to her ex-bully.
3. Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake is one of the highest paid celebrities in the world, but life wasn’t always so glamorous for JT. As a kid, he suffered through emotional and verbal abuse because he was different from everyone else. Most of the kids he grew up with played sports, and as a result of his love for drama and music he was picked on repeatedly.
“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.”
2. Sandra Bullock
Sandra Bullock is one of Hollywood’s most loved leading actresses, but she wasn’t always so popular, especially not in high school.
“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 ass 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!”
1. Christian Bale
Christian Bale is recognized mostly for his role as the strong, crime fighting vigilante Batman, but childhood was not easy for the actor. He was psychically bullied throughout his years in school by a number of boys.
“I took a beating from several boys for years. They put me through hell, punching and kicking me all the time,” Bale told People Magazine. Then he added: “If you can face the bullying at school and come through it stronger, that is a lesson for life.”
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