Lifestyle Home HGTV Star Erin Napier Opens Up About Being Badly Bullied as a Child: 'I Was a Bit Strange' The Home Town designer said her mother "told me to be exactly who I wanted to be and never ever do anything just to fit in" By Georgia Slater Georgia Slater Twitter Georgia Slater is a writer/reporter on the Parents team at PEOPLE. People Editorial Guidelines Published on April 17, 2020 05:16 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Before she was helping to build homes on HGTV, Erin Napier remembers in her younger days, people used to tear her down. “I was a bit strange and introverted,” the Home Town host, 34, recalls in the upcoming May issue of Southern Living, of her time growing up in Laurel, Mississippi. She was bullied in middle school because she had different interests than a lot of the other kids her age. “Library time was my favorite. I had a fossil collection. I would put together natural history dioramas in old shoeboxes. Or I’d stay home and make a tiger costume — that was really exciting to me,” she said. Home Town’s Erin Napier Makes Emotional Plea Against ‘Cruel’ Instagram Commenters And she wasn’t just ostracized at school — she remembers one incident where she was invited to a slumber party only to be cast aside. “One time, during hide-and-seek, I was it, and they all left me there and went to the house next door,” she revealed. Erin Napier. Manny Carabel/Getty Images However, Napier’s mother, Karen Rasberry, was always there. Napier credits her mom for helping to build her up during these trying times, and says she’s someone who never made her feel bad about being herself. “My mother had been a stereotypical Southern popular girl — the head cheerleader in high school and college,” Napier remembered. “But she never tried to push me into that mold. She told me to be exactly who I wanted to be and to never ever do anything just to fit in.” How Jenna Bush Hager Follows Mom Laura Bush’s Example to Not ‘Compare’ Daughters Poppy and Mila Lately, the HGTV personality has been trying to put an end to bullying by voicing her opinion on the topic on social media. In a recent post, Napier shared that while she began using Instagram as a way to connect with fans and document sweet memories with her husband and co-star Ben Napier and their daughter Helen, 2, the criticism she’s received from online trolls has begun to weigh on her. “Instagram is my cozy place,” she wrote. “A photo journal of the moments I don’t mind sharing because maybe it will make someone feel like there are other people like them in the world, or maybe it will give you courage to be distinctly YOU in a world that values perfection over personal.” She then made very clear what she believes is wrong with social media today, and what needs to be done to make it a safe place for all. “What this isn’t: a place for people I don’t know to come and air their grievances (this isn’t Festivus) or be mean or critical,” she said. “If you are thinking to yourself ‘well it feels good to say my piece, warts and all!’ go ahead and tap that unfollow button.” The May issue of Southern Living, which celebrates notable women and their relationships with their daughters right in time for Mother’s Day, is available Friday.