Lady Gaga toned down her act a bit (but not too much, happily) to go to Harvard yesterday to launch an anti-bullying campaign named after her acceptance anthem “Born This Way.” While Gaga has been vocal about supporting more stringent anti-bullying laws, her foundation will be aimed at encouraging kids themselves to be kinder and empowering them to “challenge meanness and cruelty.”
In an interview with Nick Kristof of the New York Times she called it a bottom-up movement to make it cooler for young people to be nice, rather than a top-down crackdown on bullying.
And she talked about her own experiences as a target of bullies: “There was a certain point in my high school years when I just couldn’t even focus on class because I was so embarrassed all the time,” she told Kristof. “I was so ashamed of who I was.”
Her foundation aims to see that kids have a “safe place” to develop their individuality—which she wisely sees as depending on promoting tolerance among their peers and encouraging them to stand up for kids who are different.
Adolescence is the time when we are most vulnerable to intimidation, when self-expression seems riskiest and rejection most painful. Coming to the defense of young people who are struggling to pass through that gauntlet is an apt mission for someone who has so brilliantly invented and reinvented herself.