When I was growing up I never really had someone to look up too who were on the autism spectrum. For that reason I looked up to people like actor Will Smith who had been able to overcome obstacles in their lives. I found early on that the importance of having a role model could have a positive impact on my development. This mantra and theme later led me to become a mentor for those with autism, as I got older.
The one thing I’ve noticed though with my mentees, many of them who are in high school are that they thoroughly enjoy pop culture. When I had a few cases of my mentees getting bullied I went to the Internet to research celebrities who had become bullying ambassadors. The first name that popped up for me was none other than pop-sensation Lady Gaga. Gaga told Rolling Stone Magazine born that she used to be bullied in high school for having a big nose. She would be called names like ugly by countless of her peers.
At first I didn’t know how to make the connection of Gaga to my mentees until she came out with her smash hit song “Born This Way.”
Not only is the song catchy but also it had a positive lyric in it that really resonated with my mentees when I played them the song.
One of her lyrics ‘There’s nothin’ wrong with lovin’ who you are’ became something we would discuss in deeper detail.
I’ve taken these opportunities to learn more about each of their stories to educate my mentees but also include these celebrities’ stories in talks I give around the country on bullying prevention based on my own experiences being bullied.
At the end of the day my message to our communities has always been the same. EVERYONE has been a victim of bullying at some point in their lives but that doesn’t mean we can’t overcome these obstacles to find the beauty in which we are. Some people who have bullied have gone on to do amazing things. That potential is what I want my mentees to see everyday. If I can leave them with that than I’ve done my job.
‘It is important that we push the boundaries of love and acceptance. It is important that we spread tolerance and equality for all students. – Lady Gaga