What if the kid you bullied at school, grew up, and turned out to be the only surgeon who could save your life?
Do you know what happens when the most talented models, designers, photographers and stylists get together? They create a soulful, beautiful, complex artwork. Especially when they have a great reason to create it. The fashion professionals throughout the Boston area has been working on the “Models against bullying” project for the last several months.
Crissy Leatham, a Fashion Journalist and Wardrobe Stylist: “I started “MAB” because I felt there was need to showcase the support that the fashion Industry has for anti-bullying. Our goal is to work with The Kraft family Jordan Boys and Girls club to raise awareness and funds through an Art Exhibit featuring portraits of the models that will be followed by a Silent Auction and Runway show. Working in the fashion industry and seeing how some people are treated, I wanted to make sure that I could teach my own children and others the importance of the effect that bullying can have.”
Here are some scary numbers:
Over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year. Approximately 160,000 teens skip school every day because of bullying. Physical bullying increases in elementary school, peaks in middle school and declines in high school. Verbal abuse, on the other hand, remains constant.
Chelsey Angers, a model: “People seem to think of models as the typical hot girls that never get teased in school, when really most of us did! Models are usually tall, lanky, and naturally very skinny. We don’t typically look like the traditional beauties! When I was in school people would call me anorexic, sick looking, weird looking and much more. I’d go to the nurse’s office and pretend to be sick so my mother would come and take me home just because I felt too ugly to be seen. Modeling has made me more confident because my tall, skinny, not-so-voluptuous figure is finally accepted. “Models against Bullying” is a great way to show everyone who has suffered bullying that bullying does not have to bring you down, you can go above and beyond those bully’s.”
It’s hard to believe that a lot of successful people have been a victim of bullying. Please read these stories and great advices from our MAB models, designers, photographers and stylists – and help someone who needs it right now. Because THEY are not alone. And YOU are not alone.
Sarah Atwood, a model: “I decided to be a part of this project because I thought it was a wonderful cause; I believe in preventing problems before they occur and hurt someone.
I was bullied when I was younger; I was homeschooled, and many other kids my age made fun of me for being the “weird homeschooler”. That made me even more shy and uncomfortable around groups of kids my age. As I grew up and got used to larger social situations, the bullying stopped, but those experiences still make me shy and unconfident around people I don’t know.
Saying to “just ignore” the bullies does not work. Whether it’s conscious or not, you absorb the negativity and that in turn makes you doubt yourself. I would suggest that when a negative experience happens, turn to someone close whom you trust and have them tell you what they think is great about you. Start a list of all the things you like about yourself or that other like about you, and then take the time to do things for yourself that make you feel peaceful and worthy – even if it’s just making hot chocolate or reading a book.”
Amy Miksis, a model: “I was shy and studious (some may say nerdy), so sometimes people just didn’t understand me. When I moved to Rhode Island, I had a chance to ‘start over’ and be confident in who I was and be me and I developed a core group of friends and a support system. As an adult, I came into a work situation where I was bullied by my boss in a small office and came home crying every night. After three years, I was able to break free of the oppressive nature of the office and I have never felt better.
Be confident in who you are (because you are beautiful!) and don’t let the bully feel powerful. They probably are reacting to some situation in their life that makes them feel inadequate. Keep your chin up and confide in someone about your situation – you would be amazed at the support you will find if you speak up!”
Takiyah White, a model: “I became a part of this moving campaign because bullying is a major issue that has not been addressed enough. It has cost people their personal glow, and in worst case, their lives.
I was bullied as I was younger and honestly I still am bullied today. I have always been really tall and awkwardly skinny. I was uncomfortable with the way I looked because I was called so many names from “sticks” to “giraffe.” The boy that I had a crush on called my names too. And till this day people make fun of me for how I look. Only difference now, is I’m comfortable with my body size.
Travel the road. You’ll never know how great you can be. Don’t give up on you, I didn’t give up on me.”
Molly Curley, a model: “I decided to be a part of this great project because I strongly believe in the cause: Models against Bullying! Throughout my whole school years, I have been bullied. They type of bullying I have encountered personally is mostly with girls. From a girl starting horrible rumors about me to just shutting me out of their friend group, I have seen it all! I could go into detail about what exactly these “mean girls” have done to me, but I don’t believe that is the purpose of this cause. I think this cause is all about the positive! The focus is to stop bullying and teach kids methods on dealing with it! I am actually thankful for the bullies in my life because they have made me a much stronger person today. Back when I was in middle school, I was definitely more insecure. But because I have literally dealt with bullying my whole life, I could not avoid it; I had to deal with it. This encouraged me to be a more confident girl and really not care about what others think. I believe that you are who you are and they only person that has the right to judge you is yourself. If you are happy in your own skin, then that is all that matters! I think my best advice would be that you have to get to know yourself before you let others tell you any negative things about you. If you don’t know you who you are, how could they possibly? When you truly know who you are and what you stand for, then no one else can tell you anything differently. And if you believe that, happiness comes hand and hand with that!”
Diana Lemieux, a creative portrait photographer: “I met Crissy several months ago and when she mentioned the project, I thought it would be a great opportunity. I’m always up for giving my time to a good cause and I’ve met some wonderful people because of it.
I vividly remember being bullied in school and wanting to stay home. Also my father was a bully. It’s hard to talk about. But he hurt a lot of people and my brother was so damaged he committed suicide last year.
I’m honestly not sure how to deal with bullies which scares me because I am a mother now. I think the key is children being able to talk to their parents, teaching them that it’s OK to tell someone and not sit in silence and take it. That made a huge difference for me. I was scared and I told my mother and she went to the school and handled it. We had a close relationship.”
Alan Medvinsky, a fashion photographer: “I got involved with MAB project because I felt that I would like to express artistically the effects of bullying in my own creative way. With my images I wanted to reflect a juxtaposition of a fear of bullying yesterday and a celebration of success today.
To folks that are in such unfortunate position, I would say – stay strong. Connect with people who cares about it and are on your side, and talk to your family and friends. This rough patch in your life must be overcome, and when you grow up – get involved, help people, stay connected with your children…this is indeed what makes you a better person.”
Dominique McLean, a fashion photographer: “First time I heard about the Models against Bullying campaign I knew I had to become a part of it. I take a big stand against bullying because when I was younger I was bullied. I was bullied for being gay in middle school. My peers were very nasty about it. And I even got ganged up on and beat up by some students from my school. If I can give anyone advice on how to handle bullying I’d tell them speak up and reach out.”
Kaitlyn Ciampa, a makeup and hair stylist: “I joined the ‘Models against Bullying’ because I have had always felt a presence of being in front of a camera and knowing what it’s like to want to feel beautiful in front of society eyes. I don’t see myself as a model but I feel comfortable knowing what looks good on an individual client I work with.
I have been bullied for being the person I wish others would treat me like they would like to be. Being bullied is a sign of you being who you are naturally.
I hope it reaches others out there knowing that bullying is not easy but to give them hope to realize the bully itself has issues at hand of not knowing who they are and the person being bullied already knows a good chunk of self to venture forth in the world where some people are just not ready to accept a sure person. That’s how I see it.”
Rizwan Samma, a fashion stylist: “I chose to be a part of this project firstly because it was a great opportunity to work with other incredible artists. It is amazing to be a part of a group of producers, designers, stylists, photographers and models, working towards the same goal. However, the concept of the project, Models against Bullying, is what really got me excited. The idea of bullying may not be contemporary, but pairing it with art and fighting it with fashion gives it the chance to be presented in a different light.
I have been bullied. I have been criticized by strangers and even by people I know. I believe that everyone is bullied to an extent, and unfortunately, I think that it is something we deal with all our lives. Whether it’s on the playground, on the internet, or even at home, bullying comes in all forms, just like people. I always recognized that I was an individual so I thought I was the normal one, and that everyone else was different. When I was younger, I never really understood why anyone would tease someone else. However, as I got older, I realized that bullying was a defense mechanism and that those that bully didn’t realize how much their words or actions could affect someone.
Judging others is a natural human instinct. What I’d like everyone to understand is that, first and foremost, bullying comes from a place of insecurity and that the victims and the bullies are on the same playing field. So when we are bullied, or see it happening, we need to try our best to not react with the same level of hatred. That just expresses ignorance on both sides. It is up to us as individuals to identify the source of the teasing and help to resolve it by intervening. Today’s youth are very impressionable, so showing them that there is nothing wrong with getting help, they’ll feel better about themselves, and in turn spread that positivity through their community. This will then allow us to celebrate our own uniqueness, and to help others accept themselves as well.”
Polina Pantyushina, a fashion and costume designer: “I am happy and honored to participate in MAB project because it is a theme that is touching my heart and mind.
I have always been the tallest in the class and received comments that would hurt and even make me cry at home. I have been criticized for the way I looked, the way I dressed, etc. At the age of 14 I had very poor self-esteem and my mother took me to the modeling school to help me to find myself as a young lady and fight with my complex. That was an amazing transformation! I will always thank her for that, it really changed my life! 3 months of acting classes, choreography, catwalk, styling, make up, essential skills for any woman. I’m still using those tips in my 30s!
Professional photo session pushed me to see myself from different side, I didn’t believe that I could ever look beautiful until I saw those pictures. I was totally reborn!
I would recommend to all the Moms of the girls with low esteem to take that type of classes. If they don’t want them to be involved into modeling industry, acting class and good photo session would help a lot as well.”