Dealing with a bully can feel like the worst thing ever, but take heart: many have come away from the experience and taken over the world.

Dealing with bullies is one of the hardest thing young people have to face. While how you deal with a bully might depend on the specifics of your circumstance, one important thing to remember is: you’re not alone. In fact, a lot of celebrities were bullied as children or teens, and they’ve managed to rise up above that unfortunate time in their lives.

Here are a few people you may be surprised to learn were bullied in high school.

 

Justin Timberlake

When Justin Timberlake accepted his Innovator Award at the iHeartRadio awards this March, he revealed that he was labeled “weird” as a child. Growing up in Tennessee, everyone but Justin was into sports, while he loved music and drama. But the thing that made him different was also what led him to his successful career as an entertainer.

TV celebrity Redfoo. Illustration by Mariel Landingin.

TV celebrity Redfoo. Illustration by Mariel Landingin.

 

RedFoo

RedFoo, half of the band LMFAO, says he stood out growing up mixed-race in the predominantly white community of Venice Beach. He was called ‘oreo’ and ‘zebra’, but says that he turned those taunts into strengths by learning to love Oreo cookies and zebra prints.

 

Charlotte McKinney

Charlotte is a model, best known for a Carl’s Jr. advertisement that ran during this year’s Super Bowl in the States. She suffers from dyslexia, which made school difficult for her; she also developed quickly and didn’t have many friends, so girls in cliques saw her as an easy target. While this combination led her to drop out of school at age 17, she learned to embrace her curves and has landed several important modeling campaigns since.

 

Jennifer Lawrence

The star of The Hunger Games films wasn’t always so well-liked. She was bullied throughout her childhood, even switching schools multiple times to avoid the harassment. However, the Oscar winner persevered and now has a stellar career as one of Hollywood’s most popular actresses.

 

Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps may have 18 Olympic gold medals, but as a child, he was mercilessly teased for having ADHD and ears that stuck out. It got so bad that he once struck one of his bullies and got suspended; however, becoming a swimmer helped him release some of his frustration and led him to become a record-braking Olympic athlete.

Demi Lovato. Illustration by Mariel Landingin

Demi Lovato. Illustration by Mariel Landingin

 

Demi Lovato

Many people know that Demi struggled with eating disorders and cutting as a teen, but not everyone knows that those behaviors stemmed from being bullied. Other children signed hate petitions and spread rumors about the pop star, leading her to experience a very dark period in her life. However, Demi sought treatment and emerged stronger than ever before, and now frequently speaks out against bullying.

 

Rosario Dawson

Rosario Dawson is another celebrity who faced bullies as a child and teen. The Daredevil star was taunted for being thin, and a late-bloomer: other kids called her “toothpick” and said she looked like a boy. With her mother’s help and support, though, Rosario was able to accept herself and landed her first big acting role at age 15.

 

Chris Rock

The famous comedian wasn’t always that way: growing up in Brooklyn he was poor and small, making him an easy target for bullies. However, Rock, who believes he is lucky that he had loving and supportive parents, is thankful for bullying because it caused him to think quickly and want to succeed, forming him into the person he is today.

Chris Colfer. Illustration by Mariel Landingin.

Chris Colfer. Illustration by Mariel Landingin.

 

Chris Colfer

The children’s book author and former Glee star didn’t always have it easy: Chris grew up in a very small town and was harassed constantly for being gay. Former bullies even contacted Chris after he became famous, acting as though they had been his friends. Rather than be mean, Chris took the high road and responded politely, but hasn’t forgotten the torment other kids put him through.

 

Rihanna

Growing up in Barbados, Rihanna was bullied throughout her school years for her light skin and eyes. However, she says that in some ways, the bullying was a blessing—it prepared her for the music industry, and made her better able to rise above drama and focus on her career.

While it may seem like celebrities have it easy, it helps to know that many of them had normal childhoods and experienced adversity early on. No matter what you’re facing, remember: you can rise above those circumstances and find success and happiness in your life.

Help me, I'm being bullied!

Talk to someone you trust, whether it's a family member, teacher, counsellor, or neighbour.

If you don't feel comfortable telling someone you know, Youthline is always there for you, and you can be anonymous.

Freecall: 0800 376 633
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For more on what bullying is and how to cope, click here.


What do I do if I know someone is being bullied?

Stopping bullying is EVERYONE’s responsibility. Bullying is not just between the victim and the bully. People who see the bullying going on or know it’s happening play a really important part in it. Click here for ways to deal.

 
What about cyber bullying?

Check this out!

This guest post was written by Jeff Bearden, AKA “The Get Back on Your Feet Guy”.

Bearden inspires today’s youth to get back on their feet, stand up to bullying, battle depression, and live lives free of alcohol and drugs through his motivational speaking. As a professional wrestler for over 25 years, working under the names “Giant Warrior” and “Tiger Steele”, Bearden entertained audiences all over the world, including audiences of over 75,000. Through his wrestling career, he had experiences both positive and negative that he brings to his speeches. The topics that Bearden speaks on are those that have personally affected him and people he knew from his life on the road, providing his audience with a judgment-free and relatable message. His message is as powerful as his seven-foot stature: no matter where you are in your life and no matter what cards life has dealt you, you can get back on your feet and thrive.

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