An Ivy League education proved to be less than magical for Harry Potter star Emma Watson, who reportedly dropped out of Brown University because she was bullied. Fellow students said that Watson was mercilessly taunted at school, with some classmates making comments like “Three points for Gryffindor!” whenever she answered a question in class. The 21-year-old actress and model announced in March that she would be taking a break from Brown, but claimed she was just trying to focus on her acting career. “I will still be working towards my degree… it’s just going to take me a semester or two longer than I thought,” Watson wrote on her website. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Watson is worth an estimated $32 million—so she should be laughing all the way to the bank.
He may have won over millions of teenaged girls globally, but Twilight's resident vampire Robert Pattinson was not exactly on the good side of his classmates growing up in Britain. "I got beaten up by a lot of people when I was younger," the 23-year-old actor told Parade.com in March. "I was a bit of an idiot, but I always thought the assaults were unprovoked… I liked to behave like an actor, or how I thought an actor was supposed to be, and that apparently provoked a lot of people into hitting me." But Pattinson also experienced what it was like to have the shoe on the other foot—both literally and figuratively. "Someone stole my shoelaces once from my shoes," he told The Daily Express in August. "I still wear them and never put laces in them."
Being raised by a German mother caused Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock to receive cruel comments from her classmates. As a professional opera singer, Helga Meyer dragged Bullock from their home in Virginia to her performances in Europe, leaving the young girl culturally clueless in her native country. "I'd come back [to school] from Europe and I looked like a clown compared to the cool way the other students looked and dressed. So I got my ass whooped a little bit," Bullock admitted in 2009. "Kids are mean, and the sad thing is that I can still remember the first and last names of every one of those kids who were mean to me!"
Tom Cruise turned to Scientology in part due to childhood taunting. Young Tom struggled with reading, which did not escape his peers nor his school, forcing him into remedial classes and on the margin of the social circle. He moved from school to school—15 different ones over 12 years—but the small-for-his-age future actor still had difficulties academically and with his classmates. "Your heart's pounding, you sweat, and you feel like you're going to vomit," Cruise said of being bullied in 2006. "I'm not the biggest guy, I never liked hitting someone, but I know if I don't hit that guy hard he's going to pick on me all year. I go, ‘You better fight.' I just laid it down. I don't like bullies." At age 7, a school psychologist diagnosed him with dyslexia, which led to Cruise rejecting the study of psychiatry and his eventual decision to join the Church of Scientology. But school bullies were not his only problem—the star's father also knocked him down time and time again. "He was a bully and a coward," Cruise told Parade.com of his dad. "He was the kind of person where, if something goes wrong, they kick you."
Howard Stern suffered some serious flak for making fun of Precious star Gabourey Sidibe earlier this year, but perhaps the shock jock was just a victim of the cycle of bullying abuse. On his radio show in January, Stern discussed growing up in a largely black neighborhood in Roosevelt, Long Island, and then trying to fit in when he moved to a mostly white area later in his educational career. The mama's boy said his parents claimed to move out of Roosevelt to Rockville Center for him, but Stern did not find his new surroundings particularly comforting. "Thanks to my overprotective mother, I was the target of every bully in the neighborhood," he wrote in his book Private Parts. "A fat neighborhood kid named Johnny, who used to blow his nose into his Italian ices, then eat them with a wooden spoon, used to beat me up so regularly that my parents made me go to judo school to learn to defend myself."
Miley Cyrus may have the best of both worlds now, but that was not always the case. In her 2009 autobiography, the now-17-year-old pop star revealed how she survived her unofficial un-fan club in her pre-teen years growing up in Tennessee. "The girls took it beyond normal bullying. These were big, tough girls [known as] the Anti-Miley Club," Cyrus wrote in Miles to Go. "I was scrawny and short. They were fully capable of doing me bodily harm." And they seemingly tried to—shoving her into a bathroom during class and locking her inside on one occasion. "I spent what felt like an hour in there, waiting for someone to rescue me, wondering how my life had gotten so messed up," Cyrus wrote of the incident. Plus, there were also instances of verbal abuse, often directed at her "Achy Breaky Heart" singing father, Billy Ray. "Your dad's a one-hit wonder," she recalled one classmate saying. "You'll never amount to anything—just like him."
His father had endured more than his fair share of taunting during his years as a student, and in 2007, Prince Harry admitted that he had been bullied as a redhead and was teased " for being ginger." Harry's on-again-off-again girlfriend Chelsea Davy is said to have nicknamed him "Big Ginger," and during his time in the British Army, Harry's fellow soldiers reportedly referred to him as the Ginger Bullet Magnet, allegedly buying red wigs for themselves to make the Prince less identifiable to insurgents in Iraq.
Before he became a record-breaking Olympian with a collection of gold medals to his name, Michael Phelps was a kid with unwieldy limbs, "sticky-out ears," and a lisp that caused him to be teased by his peers. Phelps has openly discussed his "deep hurt" over bullying early in life. He also dealt with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, for which he spent two years on medication. A teacher even told Phelps' mother, "He's not gifted. Your son will never be able to focus on anything." These days though, Phelps' trainer calls him the "motivation machine," explaining, "bad moods, good moods, he channels everything for gain."
Apparently, there was a time when everybody really did hate Chris Rock. The comedian has talked openly about his struggles as the only black student in his New York school, saying, "I got beat up just about every day. I got called n***** every single day. I got kicked and whatever. What happened to me then, today kids come to school with guns and shoot everybody—but I couldn't find a gun back then." Clearly still haunted by the painful words of his youth, Rock turned the experience into comedy with his show Everybody Hates Chris, which actually inspired one of his former teachers to write Rock an apology letter for his less-than-pleasant elementary school days.
Before joining her showbiz peers like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake as a cast member on the New Mickey Mouse Club, Christina Aguilera's dreams of stardom rendered her an outsider with her classmates. "I would get a lot of cold shoulders because there was just no way they could relate to what I loved to do," Aguilera has said. "You know, it's not really normal for a child to just want to be in front of the camera and on stage. It's not something that all kids want to do—they want to play in the playground. You know, it was hard for me to relate to other kids because I didn't have the same interests. I was even more the oddball, I felt, because of that." After joining Mickey Mouse Club, Aguilera, who once had her tires slashed by classmates, says, "it was really exciting for me to almost feel I'd found my kind."
You might know him as Pierce Brosnan, but in school, he was known as "Irish" for his accent. The former James Bond was teased after moving from Ireland to London at the age of 11 and attended Elliott Comprehensive, where his dialect stood out amongst his classmates. "I was an outsider and that made it difficult. I was ribbed a lot because of my accent and was nicknamed 'Irish.' I was also very shy—which didn't help. But the important thing is I survived the experience," Brosnan said. According to The Biography Channel, Brosnan would train himself to speak with an English accent, ending up, instead, with a Cockney twang.
Long before Bill Clinton became our 42nd president, he struggled with self-image and body weight. During his fight against childhood obesity, the former president noted that his love for fast food was a likely contributor to his need for his September 2004 quadruple bypass. "I realized that one more time I've been given another chance, and I wanted to make the most of it," said Clinton. "I was the fat band boy" wearing unfashionable jeans. During a YMCA dance, an older boy teased Clinton for donning carpenter's pants. When Clinton jawed back, the boy, who stood a whopping 6-foot-6, punched him in the jaw. Clinton may have come out of it with a sore face, but after taking the hit like a champ, standing his ground, and earning the respect of the older student, the politician also gained a lesson in perseverance.
On Tiger Woods' first day of kindergarten in 1981, the future golf stud was tied to a tree and taunted with racial slurs by older schoolboys. While that incident seems to be the only one of such a level of severity, Woods also had to cope with a stuttering problem. "It was very difficult, but I fought through it. I went to a school to try and get over that, and I just would work my tail off. And I would talk to my dog," said Woods on 60 Minutes. Sometimes, we all just need a good listener.
Girls will be girls. And, as Demi Lovato knows, they can be all too cruel. On The Ellen DeGeneres Show, shed opened up about the bullying she endured in 7th grade – teasing that eventually prompted her to be home-schooled. "I never really understood why [I was being bullied] until looking back," she says, noting that she was already a working actress – which made her an easy target. "I had a different lifestyle then everyone else."
Kate Winslet still gets pestered for her fluctuating feminine figure, but in school it was apparently much worse, with kids calling her “Blubber.” The actress said, “I was bullied for being chubby… I was the girl that people would always say, ‘Ah, it’s such a shame, because you’ve got such a pretty face.’” That’s why the “I can lose weight but you’ll always be ugly” comeback is such a zinger.
Kristen Stewart might be hugely popular nowadays, but she wasn’t quite as beloved in high school—she’s told the press that she got bullied by her peers: “I’m glad I could do those films and I was glad to leave school. I couldn’t relate to kids my own age. They are mean and don’t give you any chance. I was never the type of girl to be walking around talking about acting, so in the beginning I didn’t get hassled, until someone realized. I tried to play it down but I got, ‘Oh, she’s such a bitch.’ Since I was 14, I continued my education via correspondence while concentrating on my career. The day I did the graduation scene in ‘Eclipse,’ I had just finished high school myself the week before.”
While we'd never advocate taking revenge, there will be a day when you can be satisfied in a sense of accomplishment for surviving. Winona has a pretty rad story: "I was wearing an old Salvation Army shop boy's suit. As I went to the bathroom I heard people saying, 'Hey, f*****.' They slammed my head into a locker. I fell to the ground and they started to kick the s**t out of me. I had to have stitches. The school kicked me out, not the bullies. Years later, I went to a coffee shop and I ran into one of the girls who'd kicked me, and she said, 'Winona, Winona, can I have your autograph?' And I said, 'Do you remember me? Remember in seventh grade you beat up that kid?' And she said, 'Kind of.' And I said, 'That was me. Go f*** yourself.'"
Christian Bale starred in “Empire of the Sun” when he was 13 years old, but instead of an instant entourage, he was instantly hated on in school. Bale says, “It was not a great time. I was a victim of bullying and had other kids kicking and punching me every day. It was an early lesson in how making a film can set you apart. If you don’t want to live with the consequences then don’t make the film. But that didn’t help at the time. I was confused about other people’s reactions to me, both good and bad. It can mess anyone up.” I bet they got way nicer once “Newsies” came out and they realized what an awesome singer Christian is!
Lady Gaga recently went on “Ellen” and talked about how her high school experience influenced her persona: “I want to create a space for my fans where they can feel free, and they can celebrate. I didn’t fit in at high school, I wanted to be like Boy George and I felt like a freak. So I like to create this atmosphere for my fans where they feel like they have a freak in me to hang out with, and they don’t feel alone. It took a long time for me to be OK with myself. But I want my fans to know that it is OK. Sometimes in life you don’t always feel like a winner, but that doesn’t mean you’re not a winner.” Boy George is to bullying as the subway is to homeless people.
Tom plays our favorite hot villain in the Harry Potter franchise, but it turns out, a lot of kids were villains to him. "I would miss months of school and then return with bright blond hair. Needless to say, there was bullying. I wasn't beaten up daily, but there was name-calling and jealousy."
Jessica Alba seems like the nicest person ever, which is probably why she was tortured in school. The actress claims she was shy and awkward and had to be protected by adults: “I was bullied so badly my dad used to have to walk me into school so I didn’t get attacked ... I’d eat my lunch in the nurse’s office so I didn’t have to sit with the other girls.
Michelle Trachtenberg is one of those actresses who’s not a household name, but after stints as Harriet the Spy, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and as Georgina Sparks on “Gossip Girl,” she’s one of those actresses most people instinctively like. That, apparently, wasn’t the case in high school, where she was bullied mercilessly. “This one girl threw me down a flight of stairs, fractured my ribs, punched and fractured my nose, and told the principal I used the word ‘bitch’ and got me detention,” she said in an interview with Complex Magazine. She just recently got revenge, when she saw this same woman outside a restaurant where paparazzi were swarming. “They were probably waiting for Paris Hilton, and I just happened to come out,” said Michelle. “I have never before or since said something like this, because it’s so disgusting, but I turned to her and was like, ‘Oh, I’m sorry. I’m really famous. They need to take my picture. Sucks for you.’”
In high school, Chris told Rolling Stone that kids called him "F**" and "freak." "When you're in that situation, you learn to think on your feet. I'd always respond, 'Delinquent!' or some other word they couldn't understand." And he told The View "Absolutely, yeah [I was bullied]. I was teased every day, mainly because of my voice. They said I sounded like a chipmunk! Now everyone likes to remind me how they used to be my best friend, but I have a very good memory - that wasn't always the case."
Rosario Dawson might be all grown up and glamorous now, but apparently it took longer for her to grow up than most. When asked if she was bullied as a kid, the actress said, “Absolutely. It was always about how I physically looked. Growing up, a lot of the girls in my school started developing quickly. My mom has a very pronounced bust line and I was a late bloomer. One of my worst memories is getting all dressed up for a school activity and having the girls pick on me because I was flat chested. I was very much a tomboy for a long time.”
It’s hard to feel sorry for people as pretty as Megan Fox, but it’s comforting that she also endured high school harassment. She says, “I was bullied and it’s hard, you feel like high school’s never going to be over. It’s four years of your life and you just have to remember the person picking on you had their own problems and their own issues. And you’re going to be OK ... usually bullies are the most insecure.” Doesn’t it seem like high school was way longer than four years?
"I had my two front teeth knocked out by a sixth grader in first grade. He picked me up and jacked me in the mouth. My house got egged, and all that stuff that happens to you when you're growing up with people who don't understand what's going on.. I hated high school, to be honest. I enjoyed the educational part of it; my teachers allowed me to be creative. But I didn't have any friends, because I didn't fit in.. I thought past high school to what I wanted to do."
"(school) was sad and I started crying every day. I had really bad acne too, which didn't help. It was a phase in my life and I got through it and it made me a better person. Now I understand what my younger sisters will be going through and I can understand where people are coming from."
Despite her model good looks and success in her endeavors, Tyra was bullied as a teenager! At school, Tyra was picked on for being tall and skinny. At an interview for GQ, Tyra told a GQ reporter, “People called me Olive Oyl, Lightbulb Head, and Fivehead, because my forehead was so big.” At Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles, Tyra was teased for being a stick: 5’11” in height and only 125 lbs in weight.
"I think (self-confidence) comes with growing up, and the people around you that love you for who you are through all your faults, and have worked with you through those things and you can just be who you are and be happy with it. It's never easy for anybody, especially when you're working in show business. People are very mean sometimes. You just have to find it within yourself."
"I was bullied at school because of my weight and because I used to sing in bands. It started to make me very sharp-I had one-line answers to retaliate. I always had it in the back of my mind that they can say what they want, but I'll always have the last laugh."
Gorgeous singer Rihanna has revealed that she suffered from discrimination because of her skin colour all throughout her childhood. She told InStyle magazine that because her skin was lighter in colour than her classmates in Barbados, she was tormented right up until high school. “Having lighter skin wasn’t a problem in my household, but it was when I went to school - which really confused me at first. The harassment continued to my very last day of elementary school.”
Victoria Beckham says that her life in school wasn’t all that posh. “People would push me around, say they were going to beat me up after school, chase me,” she said. “It was miserable, my whole schooling, miserable. I tried to be friends with people, but I didn’t fit in. So I kept myself to myself.”
Since the death of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers student who committed suicide after secret footage of him performing homosexual sex acts were leaked on Twitter, even more celebrities are coming forward to talk about their own experiences with bullying. The recent string of teen suicides moved actress Brittany Snow to take action. With the help of the Jed Foundation and MTV, she started Love is Louder, a non-profit meant to draw awareness to bullying and depression. “When I was younger, I was bullied daily, and it led me to face other struggles,” she said. “I know what it’s like to feel alone and outcast.” Unfortunately, Tyler Clementi didn’t have the opportunity to gain strength and wisdom from his bullying, but we’re hoping that his untimely death will inspire more adults who survived bullying to let teens know that it gets better. [People]
After the jump, the stars who’ve talked about being bulllied.
A more surprising victim, Fred Durst says that high school was his bully hell: “I got beat up all the time in high school, I was the underdog. All of my angst comes from that in my life. The irony is, Limp Bizkit, for a while, [was] the fuel for bullies to beat up a lot of these underdogs. That’s when I decided to stop. I was like, ‘You know, that’s me they’re beating up, and my music is fueling them.’ So I held back for a while.” If bullying is what broke up Limp Bizkit, maybe it’s not all bad?
Jessica Simpson got her first record deal at age 13—only her album never came out because the label went under. Her classmates, however, thought she made the whole thing up and she became the school punching bag. “I would walk down the school halls and hear people talking about me. Some of them would throw toilet paper at my house or throw eggs at my door,” she said. “They would also write things on the sidewalk in permanent marker. They really hated me.”
Taylor Swift was bullied by her classmates in junior high. Many of them she encountered again once she was famous. “They showed up, wearing my T-shirts and asking me to sign their CDs,” she said. “It was bittersweet, because it made me realize that they didn’t remember being mean to me and that I needed to forget about it too ... Really, if I hadn’t come home from school miserable every day, maybe I wouldn’t have been so motivated to write songs. I should probably thank them!”
Taylor Lautner dealt with the same. “Because I was an actor, when I was in school there was a little bullying going on,” he told Rolling Stone. “Not physical bullying but people making fun of what I do ... I just had to tell myself I can’t let this get to me. This is what I love to do. And I’m going to continue to do it.”
Classmates targeted the crooner "because I was in musicals," he told Dr. Phil. "I was the only guy in choir in my entire high school... There was a long time when I didn't want to sing because I thought people are
"If you didn't play play football, you were a sissy. I got slurs all the time because I was in music and art . . . I was an outcast in a lot of ways . . . everything that you get picked on or you feel makes you weird is essentially what's going to make you sexy as an adult."
"She said that there was a group of girls that called her names and they stole her books and stuff — little things like that . . . When she used to go to lunch she would sit down with people and they all used to get up and sit on another table."
— Kate's former friend Jessica Hay in Daily Mail
“I wasn’t the most popular kid because they wanted to give me a lot of c**p and I wasn’t willing to take it,” the 19-year-old told The Mirror. The young star also said he had a real fight once when he tried helping a kid in school. “I was 14, he was 19. There’d been a bit of animosity between us already and he was being horrible to a kid I knew, so I pulled him off this other bloke and he punched me in the face,” he said.
The 'Grace Kelly' singer, who was ridiculed by fellow pupils throughout his childhood, claims he was shocked when his "nasty" teacher began picking on him. He told Seven magazine: "The bullying was out of control. I was even picked on by one of my teachers, a female teacher. I don't know why she did it. I didn't provoke her. I wasn't the first and I imagine I wasn't the last she picked on. She was just a nasty piece of work. I wasn't brave. I was not a fighter in the classroom."
"I was beat up in the bathrooms, in the hallways, shoved in the lockers -- for the most part for being the new kid," Eminem, born Marshall Mathers, told Cooper about getting bullied in grade school, mainly because he moved around so much that he was a lot of times the new kid on campus.
What helped Eminem overcome this tough phase of his life, though, was rapping. "I found something.. 'yeah, this kid over here may have more chicks or better clothes, but he can't do this like me,'" he recalled about when he began to rap. "I started to feel like, 'Maybe Marshall is getting a little respect.'"
"Respect" is what he's been searching for his entire career, Eminem said. "It might sound corny," he sid, "but I felt like a fighter coming up."
The segment is appropriately timed, especially since so many young kids, particularly LGBT youths, have committed suicide lately because of bullying in schools. Although Eminem is not Gay and has actually in the past been condemned for seeming be anti-Gay (something he says he isn't during the interview), I think the message will resonate with many kids contemplating an easy way out. Even the biggest of stars have gone through bullying and survived it and, furthermore, have come out on top -- so can you.
"I don't want to go overboard with it, but I do feel if I can help people that have been through similar situations, why not?" Eminem said in reference to his latest "Not Afraid" track.