Brave celebs who stood up to bullies

Celebrity culture in America is alive and thriving. Movie stars, rock stars, athletes, models, and entertainers have become our role models, our own version of a royal family, and our paragons of fabulosity. That's why it often surprises us to learn that these glossy, beautiful people have ever been downtrodden or rejected.

Yet the stories always come out. So many people who are now creative and successful were once the nerds, geeks, emos, goths, and (my personal favorite) "theater kids" of yesterday's schoolyard landscapes. And many of these accomplished former outsiders credit some of their success to the fact that they had to find the strength within themselves to overcome their experiences of bullying.

Many have gone on to speak out against their former haters, and bullying in general. In fact, some of them need to keep fighting bullying via the constant and easy-access we demand of today's celebrities through social media and tabloid content. Let's take a moment to celebrate the way the celebrities on this list were brave enough to take their power into their hands and stand up to bullies, former and current, online and IRL, for themselves and for others.

Selena Gomez

How much do you love Selena Gomez? Get ready to double it. Besides working through her her own personal struggles with online and IRL bullies, as she told the New York Times during a recent interview, Gomez is also a fierce defender of her fans against bullying.

Eonline reported on a particularly winning incident when Gomez learned how one of her Instagram followers (@keylimegomez) was being cyber-bullied and encouraged to hurt herself by another so-called fan (@selinagomesfan).

Instead of just ignoring the incident, Gomez refused to let the bullying happen on her watch, and spoke out on her Instagram, saying, in excerpt, "This is ridiculous. @selinagomesfan my fans don't do this to others. That's not what I stand for so you can gladly stop being a fan of me," she wrote. "I only encourage love, confidence, kindness." Never change, Selena!

Kesha

This rocker with the "bad girl" persona may not immediately seem like the biggest anti-bullying advocate, but remember that stereotypes are often wrong, and looks can be deceiving. In 2013, in an interview with Seventeen, Ke$ha told readers: "I'm all about standing up to gay/lesbian/transgender bullying, but it's also about my little brother. He's 13 and he gets made fun of because he has a stutter. I just have zero tolerance for people making fun of others."

Ke$ha renewed this anti-meanies sentiment recently at this year's SXSW festival, where USA Today reports she participated in an anti-bullying workshop co-hosted by Refinery 29, where she spoke "about her own personal experiences with trolls and bullying," including references to her own "mental illness" as well as "depression spiral[s]" triggered by online bullying.

So what is Ke$ha's antidote to the tormenters of the world? People reported that the singer told the SXSW crowds that she advocates for unplugging from the Internet to avoid online trolls, saying, "I am happiest when I'm present in my real life, not my online life."

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods is objectively one of the best pro golfers of all time (just take a look at his PGA Tour record if you're not convinced), and he's certainly one of the most talked about, though it hasn't always been good things. Besides his record-breaking pro athlete career, Tiger has been well-known for his marital cheating. However, his recent actions to comfort a young bullied fan might raise his moral stock in the public eye.

As reported by USA Today, after learning of a young fan of his being bullied for his stutter, Tiger wrote the fan a kind letter of support (available to read in its entirety on Golf Digest), sharing his own experience of being bullied as a stutterer. This is especially powerful, since Tiger's own experience of schoolyard tormentors may have gone beyond run-of-the-mill bullying.

NPR's Dave Zirin says Tiger originally told Barbara Walters in a 1997 interview, he faced racial slurs from his larger classmates, who even tied him to a tree. There has been some controversy surrounding whether or not this incident was fabricated or exaggerated, as is outlined by Zirin, but I say when someone shares a difficult memory with you, you listen; you don't turn around and try to deny them their experience.

​Anne Hathaway

Remember when former "it girl" Anne Hathaway won a best supporting actress Oscar for her role in Les Misérables and was then widely referred to as "Hollywood's most hated celeb" all in one year? Not to go all "poor little rich girl" here, since that's not exactly the saddest thing happening around the world right now, but she did suffer some pretty brutal online taunting, including the popularization of the word "Hathahaters" to describe the hordes who loved to hate her. And as she told The Guardian, she was not experiencing her best mental health at the time, having somewhat "lost her mind" while playing the role of the doomed prostitute, Fantine.

So what did Hathaway do to stand up to her Hathahaters? Here's what she told Ellen during a live interview, as reported by Eonline: "I listened at first. I couldn't help it, you know? And you try to shut it off and I couldn't, and then I realized why I couldn't was I hadn't learned to love myself yet. I hadn't gotten there. And if you don't love yourself when someone else says horrible thing to you part of you is always going to believe them," she said. "So, then I was like, 'OK, I don't want to believe these people. I don't want to agree with them on any level. And I want to figure out who I am."

So rather than lash out or give her bullies the satisfaction of a highly-publicized response, Hathaway stood up to her haters by focusing on herself, her own journey, and in finding out what makes her happy. That's one classy lady who understands you can't please everyone, so you should be yourself!

Daniel Radcliffe

We all know Harry Potter had to suffer through some pretty bad bullying. Let's see, the Dursleys, Malfoy, the Death Eaters, and um, have you heard of a particularly mean bully named Voldemort? Well, Harry came out on top with the help of love, friendship, and loyalty, and it seems like Harry Potter star, Daniel Radcliffe, has been using these very lessons to take on bullying in real life.

Maybe you'll remember that a few years back Radcliffe admitted to being bullied in school in an interview with Esquire UK. Quoted in The Telegraph, he told interviewers that he "wasn't the most popular kid in school." And in one instance where a bully "was being really horrible" to one of Radcliffe's friends, he revealed, "I pulled him off … and he threw me into the lockers. Then I think I said something to him and he punched me in the face. Then I punched him back. In films it always looks really cool, but I was hair-pulling, biting – there was nothing elegant or macho about the whole affair. I thought, 'You know what? If you're quick enough to run away, then that's what you should do'."

Even though a young Daniel Radcliffe standing up for himself and his friend is extremely cool in itself, what's perhaps even more inspiring is his dedication to speaking out against the bullying of kids who can no longer defend themselves. After a shocking series of suicides by young gay teens, Radcliffe "gave an exclusive statement to MTV News," where he spoke out against bullying, and offered resources to teens who may be considering suicide, as well as their friends. "Learning about the suicide deaths of Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh, Asher Brown, Billy Lucas, and Justin Aaberg has been heartbreaking for me," Radcliffe said. "These young people were bullied and tormented," Radcliffe continued, "… [and] we have a responsibility to be better to each other, and accept each others' differences regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ability, or religion and stand up for someone when they're bullied."

Demi Lovato

This cool-girl singer might be happy and wildly successful today, but not so long ago in school, she was bullied so mercilessly that she considers the experience to be one of the major reasons she was forced to seek treatment for mental health issues, including an eating disorder and cutting.

As she told People, "[they] would write 'hate petitions' [about me] and send them around to be signed. They'd have CD-bashing parties of my demos. They'd come to my house, stand across the street and yell things. It was a very emotional time for me, and all I wanted to do was get away."

Instead, Lovato found the strength to parlay the hurt from her terrible bullying experiences into an anti-bullying message she's eager to share with the world. As People reported, "Lovato has made it to the 'other side,' and is now drawing on those painful experiences as the new ambassador for Secret's 'Mean Stinks' campaign, encouraging girls to "gang up for good" to end bullying in schools."

Chris Rock

Comedian, writer, and actor Chris Rock has spoken openly his experience of childhood bullying. BET quotes him saying, "My mother and father wanted me to go to a better school, so I was bused to this poor, white neighborhood…I was the only black boy in my grade for most of the time. I was a little guy, too, a skinny runt."

Apparently things at school were bad enough that decades later, that the same BET article reports, in an interview on Inside the Actors Studio, Rock said there was a gang of kids that often "kicked my a–, spit in my face, and kicked me down the stairs." However, the tale is not all grim. In the same interview he said the abuse he received from bullies was "the defining moment of my life … it made me who I am."

After suffering at the hands of his childhood bullies, Rock turned around and turned stories from his youth into a successful TV show, with a cult following (Everybody Hates Chris) that NPR reports "is based on recollections of growing up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn in the 1980s."

Jackie Chan

It's hard to believe that such a powerful, kick-ass martial artist as action movie hero Jackie Chan could've been bullied when he was in school. Yet, here we are.

A quote he shared on his official Google Plus page states, "I was bullied quite a lot when I was growing up in my Peking Opera School. I allowed myself to be bullied because I was scared and didn't know how to defend myself. I was bullied until I prevented a new student from being bullied. By standing up for him, I learned to stand up for myself."

So maybe it makes perfect sense that Chan turned to Kung Fu as a method of self-empowerment, and maybe that's why he's so darn good at it!

You can stand up to bullies too

Will you join these badass celebrities' causes and stand up to bullying when you see it happening around you? Visit the STOMP Out Bullying organization's website and view their helpful resources and advice for what you can do.

STOMP Out Bullying is a very cool non-profit organization that's supported by dozens and dozens of cool stars, and that, according to their mission statement, works on "reducing and preventing bullying, cyberbullying, sexting and other digital abuse, educating against homophobia, racism and hatred, and deterring violence in schools, online and in communities across the country." It turns out that some celebrities really are good role models for how to be both strong and kind. So what kind of person do you want to be?