What do Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, and Kate Winslet have in common? All talented, successful bold-faced names? True. It’s also true that they were all were bullied as kids and teens, and all are featured in You Are Not Alone, a powerful anti-bullying video made to be used during school assemblies.
The video features photos of the stars during their awkward years and then again, as we recognize them, along with their memories of being tormented as far back as grade school.
“If you didn’t play football, you were a sissy,” Timberlake is quoted as saying. “I got slurs all the time because I was into music and art.” Rihanna recalls that while having lighter skin wasn’t a problem it home, the harassment over it “continued to my very last day of elementary school.” Eminem, a shaggy-haired redhead in his class photo, shares, “I was beat up in the bathrooms, in the hallways, shoved in the lockers—for the most part for being the new kid.”
The photo of a round-faced girl is accompanied by the caption, “I was bullied for being chubby. Girls told me nobody would ever fancy me.” This from the actress who grew up to be wooed by Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic. Even Kate Middleton wasn’t spared—when she’d sit down at the lunch table, the other kids would get up, she has said.
The video also highlights how some countered the bullying. When Michael Phelps was picked on for his “sticky-out ears,” being gangly, shaving his legs and wearing a Speedo, the adversity “made him stronger and work harder.” And as for the blonde, blue-eyed girl in cornrows who would grow up to be pop sensation Swift? “If I hadn’t come home from school miserable every day, maybe I wouldn’t have been so motivated to write songs.”
Hall shows the video in schools. “I’ve had girls come up and thank me for showing them the pictures of Rihanna and Taylor Swift and Megan Fox and Princess Kate,” she says. “It helps them to feel a little better about themselves to see the celebs in their awkward stages and to know that ‘totally cool’ people were bullied, too.”
In other words, they are not alone. And it’s more than possible to beat the bullies.