Celebrities—males and especially females—are perhaps the biggest targets for online shaming. People (adults included) don’t stop at mocking these famous people, they taunt their family members as we witnessed after Beyoncé and her four-year old daughter, Blue Ivy, walked the red carpet at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, Twitter users trashed the child’s looks.
At this year’s Video Music Award’s it was Pink’s daughter Willow’s story that stole our hearts as Pink shared the comment she was faced with one day driving to school.
‘Mama, I’m the ugliest girl I know.’
Willow told her mom she thought she looked like a boy with long hair. Pink, like a protective mom we all would be, admitted she immediately thought, “Where is this coming from? Who said this? Can I kick a 6-year-old’s ass?”
Instead of acting out of haste and anger, she went home and made a power point presentation for her daughter explaining to her the intricacies of beauty, androgyny, and originality.
She showed her daughter images of brilliant artists, who were also considered androgynous — and made fun of; Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Annie Lennox, Prince, George Michael, Elton John, Janis Joplin. She explained that she herself has been constantly made fun of throughout her career for looking to strong, masculine, and boyish with her short hair and muscles. She asked Willow, “When people make fun of me . . . do you see me growing my hair? ‘No, mama.’ Do you see me changing my body? ‘No mama.’ Do you see me selling out arenas all over the world? ‘Yes, mama.’”
This wasn’t only a lesson for Willow, this was a lesson for all.
Lady Gaga is committed to supporting the wellness of young people and empowering them to create a kinder world.
In 2012 she founded the Born This Way Foundation, and in her panel discussion with Oprah Winfrey at Harvard University in February 2012, Gaga discussed the importance of not only helping the victims, but also reaching out to the bullies. She reminded the audience that both the victim and the bully are on the same playing field, both are going through a tremendous amount of mental turmoil and need help.
What Pink is teaching her daughter is that mean people need help too, “we help other people to change so they can see more kinds of beauty…” It’s about instilling empathy for others, and that includes everyone.
This week Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation released the results of a New York specific survey that explores the impact of kindness, relationships, and environmental factors on the mental well-being of young people.
The “Kind Communities – A Bridge to Youth Mental Wellness” survey explores how the mental wellness of New York’s young people is impacted by factors including their relationships and environment as well as the presence or absence of kindness in their communities.
Some key findings:
- Kindness matters. Young people who describe their environments as kind are more likely to be mentally healthy. That’s true for youth in high schools, colleges, and the workplace.
- Peer networks matter. Youth rely on a small set of close friends for support. And while young people also talk with their parents about important issues, parents don’t necessarily understand what’s going on with their children emotionally or what they’re willing to discuss.
- Mental health resources matter. Young people with access to tangible resources are more mentally healthy. Furthermore, youth want to empower themselves with knowledge and skills to support their own wellness – and assist a friend who might be in crisis – but we need to do a better job providing those resources.
“Born This Way Foundation hopes this survey will help to raise awareness about mental wellness and provide people with information that’s practical to their own lives. But just as importantly, we hope it will be a tool to encourage conversations about a topic we still struggle to talk about,” said Cynthia Germanotta, Co-Founder and President of Born This Way Foundation. “These findings are a reminder that, while mental health may be a challenging and multifaceted issue, there are tangible actions we can all take to support our own mental wellness and the wellness of our young people, starting with building kinder communities.”
Online shaming, bullying and cruelty has no boundaries.
Lady Gaga is no stranger to online harassment as described in Shame Nation, when she performed at the 2017 Superbowl Halftime Show and was not only surrounded by cyber-love from so many of her peers and fans, the vultures couldn’t help but send out their vicious comments too.
What we can learn from celebrities like Lady Gaga and Pink is that cyber-shaming and bullying doesn’t define us. Bad things happen to good people and we will succeed in spite of it. These are lessons that help us help others.
A celebrity has a platform. For Lady Gaga promoting mental health, removing the stigma of it and helping people know it’s okay to reach out if you’re hurting. No one is immune to being emotionally torn down, but let’s all remember we can play a role in building people back-up.
Outreach is always available.
When I was tormented online years ago, I felt like I was swallowed up in a dark-hole, completely alone. Today cyberbullying and online shaming is recognized and resources for help are easily accessible.