RAB advocate, Practice Crashers Host, Rebel Athletic Business Development Specialist, Miss Nevada 2012
MEET THE REBELS
Meet the rebels who are inspiring a new generation by sharing their own bullying experiences and what it means to them to be a Rebel Against Bullying.
Favorite Rebel: Gretchen Carlson
My Experience with Bullying: When I was ten years old I moved to a new school where I was named the “new kid.” I immediately became the target of terrifying ridicule and feelings of loneliness and instability took over. I was ganged up on by groups of students, forced and bribed to say bad words and encouraged to participate in somewhat sexually inappropriate gestures that no child that age should have knowledge about. I was teased and pushed around daily. What started as adolescent taunting in elementary school and junior high got worse daily and eventually escalated into full-fledged bullying, culminating in an event in which I was physically assaulted.
A fellow classmate approached me and told me that another girl was going to come “bitch me out.” Sure enough, a girl who had been bullying me began screaming at me two inches from my face. She followed me out of the lunchroom after harassing me during the lunch hour with fifty students following suit chanting, “Hit her! Fight her!” I desperately tried to avoid her and get to class safely, but she unexpectedly pulled my hair from behind and then began to hit me. With hair flying and me in a frantic attempt to defend myself, I had just engaged in physical confrontation.
Immediately following, I was suspended for fighting and when I tried to explain my actions, I found no one to confide in. In the eyes of the students and principal, I had won the fight, but inside I was utterly defeated. I felt like I would rather be dead then face another day at school in fear of a vengeful altercation. This contemplation consumed my mind for sometime.
The aftermath and feelings I experienced during this time were tremendously intense. As horrible as it was, it took a public act of violence for students, teachers, and my parents to realize what was happening to me.
In 2012 I was crowned Miss Nevada and during my year of service I was able to travel the state as a spokesperson for a statewide anti-bullying campaign. My quest was not for sympathy because I was a victim, rather the rare opportunity to become a victor for those who do not have a voice. The Miss Nevada crown served as a megaphone for me to share my story. I’ve learned over the past few years is that it does not take a crown to make a difference or to stand up for what is right. It takes a Rebel. It takes someone that will stand up for what they believe in!
My Best Advice: I have learned that I will never have an answer as to why I was a chosen to be a victim of bullying. I will never know why no one stepped in or why no one took me seriously when I cried out for help. However, I have found a sense of peace within myself, fulfillment and joy from hearing stories of triumph like mine, and victory in knowing that the strides I have made have led me on a journey to become more in touch not only with my inner being, but the feelings of those surrounding me. I know I can make a difference, because I have, and so can you!
I encourage anyone who has ever felt an ounce of what I have, to be at peace knowing that if it wasn’t you, it would have been someone else. Lean on your circle of friends and family for strength to push forward, persevere, and live your best life!
Favorite Rebel: Lady Gaga
My Experience with Bullying: I was just 13 years old, and barely beginning to explore the young woman I would become, when I was first exposed to bullying. I’m sure almost anyone can understand that developing a sense of self is already difficult at the age of 13, but that difficulty was intensified when more voices were added to the mix. At this time in my life there was no way I could have foreseen the millions of people who were about to introduce themselves to me. A video I’d made to help me gain experience went viral online resulting in people hurling the cruelest words my way. There was no preparation to help me face the onslaught of bullying I would have to endure. The only thing I could do, for the time being, was learn how to cope and try to keep my head above the water.
As each day passed, the shame I felt grew stronger and stronger and I tried my best to act unbothered. There was an underlying pressure to ‘stay strong’ or else I might collapse. Unfortunately, I’d already handed the keys to my own personal power over to everyone who’d brought me down. The strength I was trying to show was forced and unreal.
It took time for me to realize that healing could only come from making the effort to understand and forgive myself for what had happened. I began to put my thoughts, feelings, and emotions into the music I was writing. It became a therapeutic outlet for me. I also knew that if I could convey as much emotional honesty as possible, I could potentially help someone else get through their own experience of bullying. Once the music was out in the world, I quickly recognized how many others needed to hear it. Kids, teens, and adults alike have shared their stories with me often revealing that I have helped them. Unbeknownst to them, they too have helped me regain the confidence I lost early on.
This lead me to title my debut EP “RE/BL” – a name for anyone who is willing and able to be a warrior, to be strong, and to not lose an air of kindness. When we extend our open arms to others we create an unbreakable force – and that’s what a true #REBELAGAINSTBULLYING is to me!
My Best Advice: Allow yourself to admit that you are suffering and that there is nothing wrong with that. You don’t have to cover it all up and I encourage you to share your pain with someone who might be able to help; a teacher, counselor or friend. Another way to release the pressure is to express your feelings in journals, music, or through art.
Keep your sense of worthiness. We all have a right to express our unique opinion and our point of view, and we have the freedom to create and explore what we love. It is important that we respect one another’s rights to do the same, and not cause harm to one another.
Life is about getting out there and literally smelling the roses – so GO!! There is no excuse not to constantly strive to be living your best life.
VP of Design, Rebel Athletic
Favorite Rebel: Madonna
My Experience with Bullying: In the early 2000’s I worked for a fortune 500 company and went through a very difficult period that involved some intense bullying. At that point in my life I was not out professionally to protect myself. A coworker decided that they did not like my lifestyle and would verbally attack me daily for being gay. It escalated to the point they publicly outted me in front of company managers, and tried to physically assault me if not for another employee intervention. The company did nothing to resolve or diffuse the hostile work environment, and even went out of their way to cover it up as if it didn’t exist. My work life became much worse because of this, and ultimately, I decided to leave the company.
My Best Advice: Don’t let the pressures of a small-minded society break you, or tell you how you should or should not act. Don’t let others define what is or isn’t appropriate behavior for a boy or a girl. Love freely without consequence or fear. Always believe it does get better. Be a Rebel and stand strong.
Actor and Film Producer
Favorite Rebel: Jesus
My Experience with Bullying: I was a chunky kid, with bi-focals, and a funny name. Oh, how I wished to be skinny and named Jeremy, Michael, or Jason; something normal. Sporting my ten dollar shoes, as I walked down the school hall, to the sound of, “Buy a can of Alpo, get a pair of Cal-Pro!”; I dreamed of being able to wear Nikes one day.
I would get picked on a lot, if not for the a-aforementioned, sometimes just for being white. Most of my neighbors were black and since I was different I seemed to be the easiest target. I would always have to leave the boys and girls club before the sun went down, otherwise, I would have to sprint home or risk getting jumped. I would go there to play basketball because it was fun, and that’s the sport of choice if you grow up anywhere in Indiana, especially New Albany. I’d usually get picked last though because I wasn’t very good.
Since I couldn’t make the basketball team my freshman year of high school I went out for wrestling. My record was 5 wins and 16 losses. Two of my wins came by forfeit. For the first time in my life a rebellious spirit started to rise in me; I didn’t quit. My sophomore year I started to watch what our team captain, senior Eric Burres did, and how he trained. Eric was the number one ranked wrestler in the state at 152 pounds. Eric didn’t wear Nikes either and there was something about him that was very relatable. I would cling to his every word, and attempt to train just like him, like a maniac. Eric was the definition of a stud. He was humble, down to earth, and kind; a true rebel. Lucky for me, I was smart enough to know that in order to be successful I could model myself after other successful people. My senior year I was nominated captain of the wrestling team and by the time my senior season was over I had amassed 31 victories en route to setting the most pins in a single season for my school. I won many titles that year and landed a college wrestling scholarship. Oh, and those kids that used to bully me usually carried my books down the hall for me that year.
Toward the end of college, I got back into acting, something I had tried my hand at in elementary school. I found myself sitting in a local talent agency. Because I had no money the flamboyant agent shouldn’t have taken the rejection so personally when I said, “No thank you”, to the $1200 initiation fee in order to become a model in Louisville, Kentucky. Instead he proceeded to tell me all the reasons I would never make it in the business. Most notably my thin lips, “Honey if you pick up any magazine you’ll see that the look is thick, full lips and you just don’t have that. You won’t have any success unless you get your lips done.” I never got my lips done. Instead I moved to NYC after college and ended up on 3 billboards in times square, multiple magazine ads, countless national tv commercials, and film/tv/stage are all on my resume. I proved that bully wrong and I’m not even close to being finished.
My Best Advice: I’ve made it a habit in my life to be an overcomer. It doesn’t matter who people say you are. It matters who you say you are. Your own opinion of you is the only opinion that matters. God says he has plans to prosper you and to give you a hope and a future. Cling to what is good; stand up for what is pure, noble, and lovely. Rise up. Rebel against bullying. Live your dream!
Favorite Rebel: Mulan! She did that.
My Experience with Bullying: I was so young at the time, so it feels like nothing talking about it now, but in 8th grade I wanted to try cheerleading. Then once the “cool girls” (I.e. the mean girls) heard about it they told me to my face that I was too ugly (rude!) and not popular enough to be a cheerleader. At first I was stunned, I thought this kind of thing only happened in movies. After the shock wore off I started to feel angry about it, so I tried out anyways just to prove them wrong. I wasn’t even sure if I’d actually make it, but I gave it my best shot and I ended up getting on the team! I had a ton of fun and became better friends with other girls there (who weren’t mean), and ended up keeping in touch with them throughout high school. Totally worth it!
My Best Advice: Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do anything. Be as overconfident as humanly possible. When people compliment you, agree with them. Stun people with your confidence. Some people see this as being arrogant or vain, but there’s nothing wrong with loving yourself as long as you don’t think you’re better than anyone else! It may confuse others because they’re used to people thinking they’re not good enough, but don’t let it faze you. Even if you have to fake your confidence, it ends up becoming real confidence in the end.
Midwest School Account Manager
Favorite Rebel: Oprah Winfrey, suffered a significant amount of abuse and trauma as an adolescent and defied odds to become one of the wealthiest women in America.
My Experience with Bullying: I personally was not bullied but the effects that bullying has had on myself and my family has been significant. For as long as I can remember my brother was bullied at school. He was the brightest most social kid you have ever met until he entered middle school. He was bullied repeatedly for his appearance and mannerisms. He immediately became an introvert and very anti-social. This only fueled the bullies more. My brother was treated so poorly by his peers that he no longer wanted to attend school or continue relationships with kids his age.
Although bullying significantly effects the victim, it affected us as a family as well. Personally, I felt like I should be able to make it stop. And when I couldn’t, I felt vulnerable and helpless. I remember getting in arguments on the bus defending my older brother from being tormented. I found myself becoming very defensive, angry and anxious. My parents became obsessed with the situation and it consumed all of their time. I don’t think any of us will ever completely move on from it.
My Best Advice: The best advice I can give as it relates to bullying is that it’s not okay for a person to make you feel bad about yourself. You can make a difference by being vocal and telling an adult. If that person doesn’t listen, continue on to anyone that will listen. Nobody has the right to make you feel like you are not good enough. Bullies try to make others feel bad because inside they are unhappy with themselves.