5 Famous Role Models Who Overcame Cyberbullying (And How You Can Too)
Getting along with peers can be tough from time to time, but when aggression becomes continuous, targeted, and aimed at people less powerful, bullying is taking place. Bullies can create a toxic environment in schools that disrupts learning, and with the prevalence of cell phones and social media, harassment from a bully can even continue after hours in virtual spaces.
Attacks of this type are called cyberbullying, and they can have a profoundly negative effect on a child’s self-esteem and well-being. While dealing with cyberbullying can be painful for children, it can be overcome. A number of noteworthy role models in the public eye have experienced online bullying and harassment, but found ways to cope with the aggression and ultimately triumph.
Five Role Models Who Have Overcome Cyberbullying
Born to teenage parents in Grand Prairie, Texas, a young Selena Gomez first made her debut on Barney and Friends in 2002. Since then, the actress and singing sensation captured hearts in a variety of Disney productions, including a starring role on the hit series Wizards of Waverly Place.
Throughout her career, Gomez has been targeted several times. As the one-time girlfriend of pop idol Justin Bieber, she received vitriolic online responses both during and after their relationship. Gomez, who suffers from lupus, was also attacked in recent years after pictures surfaced which depicted a small weight gain.
Rather than take these criticisms to heart, Gomez has noted that while cyberbullying did hurt her feelings, she found that the best way for her to move forward from the emotion was to focus on her passion — music. Since then, she’s gone to score another number one hit with Lose You To Love Me.
Often lauded as one of the most remarkable voices of her generation, British singer Adele was long targeted by both the media and online bullies over the subject of her weight. Her stance was generally not to respond to these nasty attacks at all — after all, her success speaks for itself, and she needn’t defend her body against unwanted comments.
However, during her pregnancy and after the birth of her son in 2015, online vitriol ramped up significantly toward the chanteuse. Though her legion of fans were quick to put down the detractors, the level and volume of cruelty was no doubt shocking and hurtful. Rather than launch a counterattack, Adele maturely chose to continue focusing on family and the ongoing success of her musical career.
It’s not hard to tell from Taylor Swift’s heartfelt lyrics that she keeps her feelings close to her heart. The Wyomissing, PA native moved to Nashville during her first year of high school to be closer to her goal of a country music career, a transition and lifestyle that led to feelings excluded among peers. Even before achieving international fame, Swift reports experiencing cyberbullying from classmates, and has been quoted as saying that “school was tough” and that she was “often alone”.
Now that she’s a superstar, Swift still has to cope with the strong opinions of both fans and haters. This has been especially true since her recent decision to adopt a strong political stance for the first time in her career, as depicted in her 2020 documentary Miss Americana. Rather than let negativity gets her down, she continues to focus on her career as a well-respected and talented musician, channeling tough feelings into her songs and compositions.
Only moments after UK Olympic swimmer Tom Daley finished his 2012 10mm synchronized diving event, his failure to win a medal found online hate pouring in. Trolls on Twitter aggressively mocked the athlete’s performance, even going as far as to mock his father, who was recently deceased. As an LGBTQ athlete, Daley was especially vulnerable to bullying, and his sexuality was targeted numerous times in harassment and trolling.
In response to the attacks, charities and organizations against bullying came out in support of Daley. In some cases, legal consequences occurred for Twitter users who had made threats against the diving star.
When 2016’s all-female Ghostbusters reboot was announced, some fans were less than pleased with the casting. At the center of the controversy was actress Leslie Jones, who became the victim of personal attacks related to her race, appearance, and even her deceased sibling. Going as far as to compare African Americans to monkeys by posting pictures of apes, the hateful users led Leslie to decide that enough was enough. She took some time off from social media, and in response, her fans came out in droves to shame haters and spread the hashtag #LoveForLeslie.
Jones certainly didn’t stay down, rallying back to social media shortly thereafter. Currently, she stars as host in ABC’s reboot of the popular game show Supermarket Sweep.
Tips for Coping With Cyberbullying
- Don’t respond to the behavior. Often, bullies are looking to get a rise out of those they harass. When you don’t react as they anticipate, they may move on.
- If you need to respond, take time time to feel calm before doing so. You may want company from a friend, parent, or sibling while replying. Remain calm and use neutral words.
- Always take screenshots, as this is the best way to verify and report instances of cyberbullying.
- Report cyberbullying and block bullies whenever possible.
- Get offline! Spend some time with friends, family and engaged in hobbies. Breaks from social media can offer relief from feeling cyberbullied.
Need help coping with a bully now? Visit stopbullying.gov now