Even Celebrities Are Bullied

Floyd and Mary Beth Brown
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Posted: Mar 12, 2009 4:10 PM
Even Celebrities Are Bullied

"Jessica's Agony.Bullied for Her Weight," a magazine cover blares in big, bold letters.

However, for singer Jessica Simpson, being bullied is not a new thing. Bullies taunted her while in high school too. "I would walk down the school halls and hear people talking about me," Simpson said. "Some would throw toilet paper at my house or throw eggs at my door... They really hated me."

Of course, she's not the only one to suffer attacks from bullies. Teen mega-stars Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift both became the victims of bullies at school. Bullies taunt, ridicule, push, beat, and shun unmercifully their targets. Thousands upon thousands of children and teenagers dread going to school because of the bullies who await them --but it's not only kids who are tormented. Adults also encounter bullies.

Barbara Coloroso, author of "The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander," points out that bullying is about neither conflict nor anger. "It is about contempt -- a powerful feeling of dislike toward somebody considered worthless, inferior, or undeserving of respect.Contempt comes packaged with three apparent psychological advantages: a sense of entitlement, a liberty to exclude, and intolerance toward difference."

And it is a fallacy that it is just a part of growing up or something to be expected in childhood to ride out. Anxiety, depression and sometimes even suicide can be the consequences of this common but painful and possibly psychologically damaging occurrence.

Big, tough girls locked Miley Cyrus in a Tennessee high school restroom, she reveals in her newly released memoir, "Miles to Go." "I was scrawny and short.They shoved me in," she writes. "I was trapped. I banged on the door until my fists hurt. Nobody came. I spent what felt like an hour in there, waiting for someone to rescue me."

"A lot of girls thought I was weird," Taylor Swift says about her high school experience. "Actually, the word they liked to use was annoying. I'd sit at their lunch table and they'd move to a different one."

While girls often use shunning, rumors or relational bullying, boys commonly use physical threats and violence. "Batman Begins" star Christian Bale says, as a 13-year-old, boys started picking on him when he appeared in a Steven Spielberg film. "Girls were all over me but the boys just wanted to fight me."

So what happens to theses bullies that scores of us ran into during our youth? Many grow up and continue to bully people as adults, but use different methods. Adult bullies often possess self-confidence and use bullying to maintain their power and control over other people. "Typically an adult bully will make someone else's life miserable until they either leave or quit their job, but this isn't the end to the bullying," said Alex Desjardin. "When the person that they originally target is out of the picture, the adult bully will always try and find someone else to start picking on."

Desjardin says these bullies "target people with talents or people who are good at their jobs" because they feel intimidated by them. Normally, adult bullies are very competitive and try to eliminate anyone who makes them look bad or not as effective. Sometimes they go after new or older employees. Bullies also erroneously make the mistake of thinking that their criticizing and belittling will make other's work harder. Just the opposite is true: Morale and work production decline. They cause high employee turnover rates at businesses because of their negative attitudes in the workplace. What the adult bully desires, explains Desjardin, "is more attention, so what they will try and do is eliminate the person who is getting most of the attention so that they can have it all for themselves."

One way to deal with bullies is to not show fear and stand up to them.

Actor Tom Cruise learned how to effectively handle bullies as a youngster. Because of dyslexia, he was placed in remedial classes -- at 15 different schools. "I'm not the biggest guy," he has said. "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 just laid it down."

Sage advice often repeated by adults who were bullied as children rings true in many cases. Just look at Miley, Taylor, Jessica, Christian and Tom. "Success is the best revenge."