Latin Celebs From Selena Gomez to Eva Mendes Explain How They Overcome Bullying
Selena Gomez, the executive producer of Netflix's series 13 Reasons Why — about a teen girl who commits suicide after being bullied and leaves behind a series of videotapes explaining her motives — is no stranger to bullying. "I knew what it meant to be bullied. I went to the biggest high school in the world, which is the Disney Channel," she told The New York Times.
To this day, she still gets negative comments from cyberbullies on Instagram: "You can’t avoid it sometimes...They’re not like, ‘You’re ugly.’ It’s like they want to cut to your soul. Imagine all the insecurities that you already feel about yourself and having someone write a paragraph pointing out every little thing."
13 Reasons Why actor Brandon Larracuente, of Puerto Rican descent, also opened up about bullying. "I got picked on and I got bullied in high school," he told Teen Vogue. "I was sort of an introvert and I had a hard time talking about my feelings and what I was going through. So my dad was that one person who was able to get things out of me. My dad's the one person that I felt like I could trust in high school. He helped me get through some of the most difficult times in my life; for that, I owe him the world."
Singer Christina Aguilera, of Ecuadorian descent, confessed on Dateline in 2012: "I've definitely experienced forms of bullying and that's why it's so important for me to write songs like 'Beautiful' and 'Fighter.' " Many of her empowering lyrics focus on accepting yourself and not letting other's opinions bring you down.
Former Disney Channel star Demi Lovato also admitted to being bullied. “I had a really tough time when I was in middle school,” she told PEOPLE. “People would write ‘hate petitions’ [about me] and send them around to be signed. They’d have CD-bashing parties of my demos. They’d come to my house, stand across the street and yell things. It was a very emotional time for me, and all I wanted to do was get away.”
It was so bad, in fact, that Lovato believes it’s part of what led her to seek treatment for issues like an eating disorder and cutting years ago. “Back then, there were times I didn’t think I’d be able to move on,” she confessed.
Even the gorgeous Eva Longoria was made fun of as a child for her looks. "I grew up as the ugly duckling," she told Dateline. "They used to call me la prieta fea, which means 'the ugly dark one.'"
Beauty queens are not excempt from bullying. Miss Colombia Laura Gonzalez, Miss Universe's first runner up told PEOPLE CHICA about the bullying she endured as a child: “When I was little I wasn’t the prettiest girl in my class,” she said. “In fact, kids made fun of me many times for one thing or another: my weight, my height, my hair, my clothes.”
Former Miss Universe Zuleyka Rivera has also been the target of mean criticism. The sexy model of the "Despacito" music video did not stay quiet about it. When someone criticized her looks on social media in March, she responded by posting a video of herself in a bathrobe and no makeup — and challenged those who don’t appreciate diverse types of beauty.
“I feel indignation, frustration, and shame to know that there are women who think that you need to have a specific beauty stereotype in order to win someone’s heart and love… Life will teach all those girls, through experiences, the true meaning of beauty.” She hashtagged the post #notobullying, which dozens of Latina celebs, including Cynthia Olavarría and Karla Monroig, supported with the hashtag #withoutmakeuplikeZuleyka.
She may have adoring fans now, but that wasn't always the case for Jessica Alba. The actress told the U.K.’s Daily Mirror, “I was bullied so badly my dad used to have to walk me into school so I didn’t get attacked.”
Mexican singer Belinda spoke to Univision's show El Gordo y la Flaca about how bullying affected her. "They would bother me about everything. They could call me little toad. It was constant bullying," she recounted. "It was a really difficult time from age 9 to 17. I didn't have any friends. Girls would pick on me. I would have fights with them." High school was so bad, she said, that she decided to be homeschooled instead.
Eva Mendes says she put an end to bullying in her life. The Girl in Progress actress said she was very thin growing up and there was a girl in school that tormented her. "I had a serious bully from 7th grade to 9th grade. It was torture for me" she told Showbiz Tonight. "I had this girl who bullied me and tortured me and prayed on the fact that I was so scared and I would avoid her."
How did she overcome it? “When I finally stood up to my bully," she told PEOPLE, "that’s when things changed for me."