When most men list their dream girl, they say her name, and when most women describe their perfect body, once again she is the go-to. But Jessica Alba says she was not always the trim and toned celebrity you see today, but rather a little girl who was determined to get better. The 34-year-old stated that she struggled with her health and weight in her younger years but her parents gave her the tough love she needed to beat it. Her family wasn’t as wealthy as others in her class, she had a Texan accent, and buck teeth. She was deemed to be a misfit and often times she couldn’t escape from her attackers. Alba spent her lunches in the nurses’ office for solitude and safety, and her dad needed to walk her to school so that she wouldn’t be provoked. She never fought back, not wanting to lower herself to the level of her bullies. She said: ‘I was on a swim team, and I was chubby and slow and dead last – a full two laps last. I was crying and couldn’t breathe. Growing up, she was a ‘sickly kid,’ with asthma and regularly had pneumonia. She also stated : ‘For a long time, I didn’t think I was smart. I felt like an impostor. It’s not until you feel
whole in yourself that you fit in anywhere.‘ However, Alba did find an outlet for her frustration and fear – acting classes. She recalls, “The idea that for an hour I could be someone different was amazing. I was determined that this was something I was going to be good at. This was a part of my life no bully could ruin.” She says that her lessons at drama school “changed everything” and sparked a lifelong love of acting. Alba encourages others who have been bullied to use fear as fuel: “You have to make it push you to become a stronger person, in whatever way that may be.”
As a celebrated Hollywood sex symbol, it’s difficult to imagine an unattractive, bullied Tom Cruise growing up. Tom Cruise, the star of Top Gun and Mission Impossible is beloved for his talent and looks worldwide, but as a child, he wasn’t so appreciated. Cruise’s childhood was spent on the move, as his father consistently uprooted the family to find a new source of work in order to support the family. As a result, he was always establishing himself over and over again at new schools: “I was always the new kid with the wrong shoes, the wrong accent. I didn’t have
the friend to share things with and confide in.” And at each school, he faced the fresh experience over and over again. He was small for his age and easily pushed around. Eventually, he learned to stand up for himself. “Your heart’s pounding, you sweat, and you feel like you’re going to vomit. I’m not
the biggest guy, I never liked hitting someone, but I know if I don’t hit that guy hard
he’s going to pick on me all year. I go, ‘You better fight.’ I just laid it down.
I don’t like bullies.” Cruise found strength and inspiration in his mother, who he says, “rose to the occasion,” supporting the family on her own with three jobs. Once seeing her success, Cruise turned a corner, deciding, “I’m going to create, for myself, who I am, not what other people say I should be.”
Jessica Simpson is another starlet who is still bullied in the media, but unfortunately, tabloids were not the first to attempt to tear her down. Simpson seemed to be popular in school, as a homecoming queen and cheerleader, however she reports that she was a victim of a specific group of girls, which she refers to as “the school’s mean girl group”. “I had girls egging my home, writing curse words on the sidewalk in paint — just saying really
nasty things about me.” The taunting was too difficult to handle that, sadly, she quit cheerleading. That said, she stated that her unfortunate youthful experiences helped her as a high profile celebrity, learning how to deal with constant scrutiny which often times arises from the media. “I grew up in that fishbowl of always being judged and watched. I really do believe that was God preparing me for the life I’m living now.”
In 2008, Michael Phelps earned respect worldwide for his performance at the Beijing Olympic Games, as he earned the title of greatest Olympian ever with his all-time record for most individual gold Olympic medals, a total of nine. And although he has been called “amazing,” “incredible,” and even “Sportsman of the Year,” Phelps was branded with much different terms as a kid. He was taunted for his “gigantic ears” and lisp, as well as his long arms, which ultimately took him to greatness. It seems that the taunting Phelps experienced encouraged his greatness as well, with coach Bob Bowman reporting, “Michael is the motivation machine — bad moods, good moods, he channels everything for gain.” Phelps is apparently able to take any adversity and turn it into a reason to train even more intensely. His story is one of particular inspiration to bullied children everywhere, showing that you can not only survive taunting, but turn it into motivation in order to be amazing.
Although Miley Cyrus seems to be quite popular in her teenage years, it appears that prior to becoming a starlet she suffered from bullying. At school, there was an “Anti-Miley Club” full of “big, tough girls” who were “fully capable of doing bodily harm” and went above and beyond in their bullying pursuit. Cyrus was once locked in a bathroom during class: “They shoved me in. I was trapped. I banged on the door until my fists hurt. Nobody came.” Other incidents included challenging Cyrus to a fight, which only ended when the principal stepped in. And when Cyrus wasn’t being physically abused, she was being teased, with classmates telling her: “Your dad’s a one-hit wonder. You’ll never amount to anything — just like him.”
Fortunately for her, Cyrus did not listen to nay-sayers, scoring the role of “Hannah Montana” and a ticket to fame and fortune.
It appears that bullying doesn’t just occur in grade school, and even the rich and famous can’t escape it now and then.
Emma Watson, one of the stars of Harry Potter, is the unfortunate proof of that. This year, Watson dropped out of Brown University, stating that she wanted to focus on her acting career, but it is widely believed that she left due to bullying. According to fellow students, Watson was often mocked when given the opportunity to answer questions in class, with students chiming in: “Three points for Gryffindor!” Despite the teasing and taunting, Watson has decided to continue pursuing her education – announcing that she will be taking part in an exchange program with Worcester College, Oxford, and completing her studies at Brown University.
President Bill Clinton was once the leader of the free world, but this iconic politician came from humble beginnings. As a junior in high school, he was teased relentlessly for being a “fat band boy” with bad taste in clothes. Their taunting culminated in an incident at a junior high dance as an older student teased Clinton about his carpenter’s jeans, and even hit Clinton in the jaw. But Clinton did not give the bully what he wanted, choosing to stand his ground rather than fight back or back down. Clinton shares in his memoir, My Life: “I had learned that I could take a hit and that there’s more than one way to stand against aggression.” He survived the incident, and his status as a band geek was rewarding, with Clinton becoming a talented and celebrated saxophone player in addition to his life in public service.
Sandra Bullock is both beautiful and stylish, not to mention talented. While she was in school, her style wasn’t quite appreciated. The actress’ mother was a German opera singer who brought home European clothes for the young Bullock to wear, which the other children thought were frumpy. Bullock also suffered from a lisp, which only added to the fire. However, the star made it through her troubles, and she states that her mother provided her with the confidence to do so, remarking: “Uniqueness was something my mother pounded into me. I’ve made peace with
the fact that the things that I thought were weaknesses or flaws were just me. I like them.” She encourages girls who are going through troubles to persevere, even in the face of bullies: “Don’t change. Be who you are.”
As one of the most beautiful and talented women in Hollywood, it’s hard to believe that anyone would pick on Oscar winner Kate Winslet about her looks, but it’s true. Growing up, Winslet was bullied and teased for being chubby. Her nickname at school was Blubber. She was once even locked in the art cupboard without any hope to escape, as those provoking her kept remained on the outside. Although she is now adored by many worldwide, girls once told her that no one would ever “fancy” her. Winslet may have grown out of her young awkwardness, but she has not yet shed the painful words of her youth. She says that she still feels like “the fat schoolgirl” and even now she doesn’t consider herself to be beautiful, acknowledging that magazine covers are retouched, and she’s greatly helped in films by hair, makeup, and lighting.
Most people imagine that the life of a prince is quite privileged and pleasant, and although we’re positive that Prince Harry has his fair share of royal privileges, he’s also gotten more than his fair share of taunting. The reason? His red hair. Although in America, red hair does not carry a stigma, in the UK, “gingers” like Harry are teased for their colored hair and fair skin. Harry’s army pals frequently call him the “Ginger Bullet Magnet,” and have made comments as to purchasing ginger wigs to wear in Iraq, presumably to prevent insurgents from identifying the young prince. Harry’s girlfriend, however has a more flattering nickname: “Big Ginger.” However, Harry’s hair hasn’t kept him from success, as he is currently a captain in the Army Air Corps, with honorary military appointments in the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. Prince Henry is also philanthropically active, acting as patron of several charity organizations, including Sentebale, a charity he co-founded to support orphans and vulnerable children in Lesotho.