"Other people's words or labels don't define you – you define you," Lauren Brocious says in a YouTube video

By Gabrielle Olya
Updated December 29, 2015 12:35 PM
Lauren Brocious

Lauren Brocious was scrolling on Instagram when she stumbled across a mean comment on her friend’s photo.

“There were some derogatory words that were used, some vulgar phrases, and slang words that I would not choose to throw around,” Brocious, 17, tells PEOPLE. “She had been bullied a lot, and went through a rough time in high school. My first instinct was to comment something back, but instead I decided to take a more proactive approach.”

In response to her friend’s cyber-bullies, the Winchester, Virginia-based high school senior created a moving YouTube video in which she covers her face in mean words – like “ugly,” “fat,” “stupid,” and “loser” – and then encourages viewers to not take bullies’ mean comments to heart.

“We let the labels that people define us as start defining ourselves, but what if instead we started wiping away the labels that people gave us, and we start erasing these hurtful words from ourselves because we know that’s not who we are,” she says in the video.

“Other people’s words or labels don’t define you – you define you,” she concludes. “Love yourself for who you are. And you are amazing.”

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Brocious was cyber-bullied herself in middle school and early high school, but says posting videos on YouTube helped her overcome her bullies.

“I think it’s helped me gain a thicker skin because you can’t care what other people say or write or type about you,” she tells PEOPLE.

And now Brocious’ videos are helping others as well.

“I had a girl message me, and she said that she was thinking about committing suicide, and she had everything planned out, and then she stumbled upon across my video and she started watching more and more of my videos,” she says. “She felt she could message me and talk to me. So I talked to her, and we still correspond. I’ve had girls that messaged me and told me that they were borderline going to commit suicide, and that they watched my video and it made them stop and think.”