I've had the pleasure of blogging for you before, so I know you've heard my story, but here's a quick recap:
In elementary school, I was picked on for being overweight. None of my peers were willing to be my friend. Standing alone at recess and never having someone chose me as their partner in class was humiliating. It left me feeling worthless and damaged my self-esteem. Things got so bad that I was eventually forced to switch schools.
Once I overcame my struggles, I couldn't stand by and watch other kids get treated the same way. Therefore, at 16, I started a YouTube channel called WeStopHate. We raise self-esteem in teens because we believe that teens who are happy with themselves don't put others down--and this stops bullying!
Over the last two years, WeStopHate has reached over 100,000 teens around the world through our YouTube videos, Facebook photos, and Tumblr posts. Lady Gaga even took notice and made a WeStopHate video!
Being an anti-bullying advocate has opened my eyes to the many challenges young people today face when it comes to "taking out the trash talk." The Huffington Post recently reported that kids are opting to go under the knife to receive plastic surgery to stop their peers from teasing them about their facial characteristics--that's taking girl-to-girl meanness to the extreme! If it were me, I'd go out of my way to be a friend to a classmate who is having a hard time fitting in. You can be supportive by posting an uplifting comment under that classmate's Facebook photo. It only takes a couple seconds to tell someone they look lovely!
According to Do Something, six out of ten American students witness or experience bullying every day. Fortunately, there are many ways for you to stand up against bullying. If you're the one being bullied, the best thing you can do is talk to a teacher, parent, or trusted adult. They will listen to what's going on and offer solutions to help make things better. Plus, keeping your feelings bottled up inside will make things much more difficult. If you're the one witnessing bullying, my advice is to take the victim and/or bully aside and talk to them one-on-one. Ask them what's going on and listen to what they have to say. Often times, people are more willing to talk openly when they're alone, as opposed to being in a group.
Do Something, one of my favorite organizations, has partnered with the powerful movie Bully to create a quiz that helps educates adults on what's the real scoop about teen bullying. Share how bullying affects your life by taking the quiz here.
I think it's essential to spend your life with people who make you happy, not who you have to impress. In doing so, you will realize that people who put you down or make you feel bad are not important. You only live once and the most important thing is for you to be happy. So, be true to who you are and make it a habit not to be critical about small things.
Also, spend time figuring out what you're most passionate about. Doing what you love will give your life purpose and increase your self-confidence. And one more thing: Don't believe the negative things you tell yourself late at night! In those moments, you are your own worst enemy.
There is a shirt that says, "Rumor is rumors aren't cool anymore." I love that! If we all come together, we can stop hate and we can create a world where each and every one of us feels accepted for who we are.
Take the blue pinky nail pinky swear! Show a public commitment to help end girl-to-girl bullying by painting your pinky nails blue.