National Bullying Prevention Month

October is National Bullying Prevention Month.   We hear a lot about bullying when there is another  suicide- and there are many suicides. Each year in the U.S., approximately 2 million U.S. adolescents attempt suicide, and almost 700,000 receive medical attention for their attempt.  For young people 15-24 years old, suicide is the second leading cause of death.

Bullying contributes to much of that. I know. I wanted to die because I was bullied.  Thankfully I’m fine now, but I have thought long and hard about what would have helped me, and it was simple: #BeBrave

If just one person had decided to #BeBrave and stand up for me, and stand up to my bullies when I was too weak to do so, it would have changed my world.

Most bullies will back down when confronted.  If one person had said- hey, stop tweeting her, quit being mean, stop spitting on her,  LEAVE HER ALONE!  YOU ARE A BULLY! Perhaps things would have ended and I would not have lost 18 months of my life fighting back against depression.

That’s it. It’s that simple, and that hard.  To end bullying, all you have to do is #BeBrave and stand up for someone who needs a champion. Stand up and tell someone, “hey, that’s not cool, cut it out”, or to come over and say “sorry, that was really mean” when they witness bullying.  Being brave is getting help, a teacher, a cop, a parent, anyone to see what’s going on and help it to stop.  If you let people know bullying isn’t acceptable to you, and will not be tolerated around you,  then it won’t happen.

We can end bullying.  All we have to do is to Stand Up and Be Brave.

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Have you witnessed bullying? What do you think you can do to help stop bullying?


Daily Shows Racism Is Still Around

Last night, on the Daily Show there was a skit regarding terrorist groups and in an attempt to be funny, the show called one of the boys in One Direction a terrorist. In a segment with Jon Stewart, correspondent Jessica Williams “reported” on some new terrorist groups Americans may not know about. At one point, Williams jokes,

“Just as you were talking, a new terrorist group formed, with one member each from ISIS, al-Nusra, Al Qaeda, Hamas, One Direction and the Zetas drug cartel.”

WHAT?
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There is only one person in One Direction who is Muslim. There is only one person in One Direction is of Middle Eastern descent. (He is half Caucasian, half Pakistani) That is Zayn Malik.
One Directions, and Zayn’s fans reacted to the slight, crying foul. In fact, trending on Twitter is the hastag: #TheDailyShowGoneTooFar, where fans expressed outrage and disgust that Zayn would be targeted for being a terrorist, simply based on his name and ethnicity. Some people said the fans were overreacting, but what they are really reacting to is the racism and prejudice being shown.zayn1zayn1

The outrage is about a person being called a terrorist because of his race. The outrage is being told that we can live in a world where racism can end, but having it used as a way to make jokes and get a laugh. The outrage is a persons worth being based on his religion. The outrage is that the youth of today is TRYING to to move past the shackles of hate and prejudice and moving toward judging a person by his actions, not the color of the skin or the place he worships.
I personally am proud to be part of a group that will stand up and take a stand against bullying and hatred. John Stewart and his writers should be ashamed of themselves. When they poke fun of politicians who make public statements that’s fair game. But making fun of a kind, giving person simply because he is a Muslim is unacceptable.


Is Harassment Humorous?

Recently, I came across a video on YouTube that disgusted me. Sam Pepper, a YouTuber, posted a video titled “Fake Hand Ass Pinch Prank”* which showed him asking for directions with a fake hand in his pocket, and his real hand would reach around and pinch a girl’s bottom. Prank? Am I supposed to find sexual harassment funny? I don’t think it is.

Sexual harassment is bullying in it’s basic form. Bulling is never funny. Why, then, is degrading attention and harassment toward  woman ever considered funny?

Sam Pepper put up new (back-peddling) video talking about the “prank”, which he says was a “social experiment” and the girls in the video apparently knew the concept of the video. Regardless of it being a “prank”, or even scripted, it is the absolute wrong way to raise awareness of sexual harassment. In other videos, he has done things such as “How To Make Out With Strangers”, “How to Steal a Girlfriend” and “How To Pick Up Girls With A Lasso”. All of which, show “unsuspecting” girls being harassed, belittled, and ridiculed. People argue that the girls were comfortable with it, as they just nervously laugh it off. But some girls don’t know how to respond to sexual harassment. Not all girls will outwardly say that they’re uncomfortable, or tell the person to knock it off. Even when told “I don’t like that…” In the video, he still proceeded to laugh and touch the girl anyway. How is that acceptable? When we allow people to make jokes about it, and not take NO to mean NO seriously, we are sending a message that harassing woman is ok -that it is funny and acceptable. Apparently Sam thinks disrespecting women is humorous. but I’m not laughing. It’s not funny. It’s bullying.

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Making harassment into a joke, making people them think it’s funny is all wrong. Sexual harassment is not funny. And It never will be.

*I purposely didn’t link to the video so I would not help promote the video, nor his profit from the clicks it receives.


One Direction Concert Experience + GIVEAWAY

One Direction Ultimate Fan Giveaway

I’ve been a One Direction fan for years now, and a couple weeks ago I FINALLY got to see them preform! On August 7th, my friend and I drove up to Foxboro, Massachusetts to see the Where We Are tour at Gillette Stadium. We not only got to see them on the 7th, but August 8th and 9th as well! I can easily say that those 3 days were the best 3 days of my life.  I want to share some of that joy with YOU! By giving away an Ultimate Fan Pack!  (but don’t forget to read how awesome my concerts were!)

The Ultimate Fan Pack includes: VIP Fan bag from the stadium, including One Direction Tank Top, 1D watch with exclusive bag, and lip balm. Also,  Our Moment Perfume, Where We Are book , This is Us dvd, and Midnight Memories cd.  Everything for a One Direction Fan wants!

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We got to the stadium at around 2 PM to start filming my video, 60 Reasons Why We Love One Direction. I have to say, meeting the other fans was one of my favorite parts. I heard so many stories on how these boys affected the lives of their fans. It was an amazing atmosphere, because it felt like we were all almost connected to each other. Everyone there loved this band, just like I did. Everyone I talked to had been affected by One Direction in a positive way. They had even saved lives.

One Direction may just be a boy band to you, and that’s fine. But to their fans, they are so much more. They’re heroes, reasons to live, inspiration… It may seem silly, that 5 singing boys have such an effect on us, but they do. Harry, Liam, Louis, Niall, and Zayn have changed the lives of millions of people worldwide. While I sat in Gillette Stadium, I had a big realization. It was not just my friends and I that had been so greatly affected by this band. There were over 68,000 people in that stadium, whose lives had been changed by these boys. I saw people screaming from getting waved, crying from getting a kiss blown at them, even sobbing just from listening to the music.

On August 7th, I sat in section 313, and I had an amazing view of the entire stadium. It was surreal to see just how many people were there to see One Direction. I could see almost everything and I had an amazing time. On August 8th, I sat on the floor, right next to the B Stage. It was absolutely amazing. The confetti popped out right over our heads during “Happily”, and the boys were down there for a long period of time. My favorite night though, was August 9th. I sat right next to the main stage, and where they sat to sing the slower songs. It was so surreal to see my idols directly in front of me, singing the songs I’ve listened to in my bedroom for years. I did get waves, and kisses blown at me, and I might have screamed a little, not going to lie. Those 3 nights were the best of my life.

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Thank you to One Direction, for helping not only me, but millions of fans throughout the years. Thank you for helping us feel beautiful, for inspiring us to go for our dreams, for helping us not feel so alone.


A Bullied Kids Guide to a bully free school year

When you’ve been bullied in the past, the first day of school isn’t usually exciting, In fact, it can be terrifying!   It’s hard to walk back in the “lion’s den”, but there are a few things to  do that can make it a little bit easier.

How to Have a Bully Free School Year

Reach out and find new friends- If you had a hard time making friends in your classes last year, this year is a great way to get a fresh start. There are more and different people in your classes this year, which proves for more opportunities to make new friends. Don’t stay hidden behind your books, talk! Answer questions in class, engage in classroom discussions. Try to talk to the people around you as well. It doesn’t have to be a full blown conversation at first. Ask for a pencil, or give a compliment. Open yourself up to new friendships.  Talk to the people you get partnered with. Find a kindred soul. Love art? Check out the after school art opportunities in your class.  Love to sing?  Is there a drama program you can join?  You’d be surprised at the people who belong to groups that you don’t know. Look to grades above you and below you, as well.

Find someone to trust at school.- If you’ve been bullied in your past school years and you’re uncomfortable at school, find someone you trust. It doesn’t have to be someone in your grade. There are great people to talk to in guidance centers about daily problems at school. You could also find a teacher you really trust to reach out to. Teachers are there to be educators and supporters. It’s also a good idea to have your parents reach out  to administrators and teachers about your past experiences so that they are aware of people and things to watch out for.  You have a right to be at school and to be in a safe environment.

Learn how to #BeBrave – Being Brave is a simplified version of how to end bullying.

To Be Brave, you have to stand up FOR the bullied, FOR yourself, and TO the bullies.

It’s not always easy. in fact, it can be hard, but I promise you one thing, once you stand up to those who are bullying you and refuse to accept their behavior, they will leave you alone. If you stand up and report their actions, they will leave you alone, eventually. Most schools have anti-bullying policies in place and are cited in their handbooks. Get to know those rules.  One of the hardest things I ever did was decided to Be Brave for myself, but it saved me.

You may have had a hard time in the past, but you deserve to have a bully free school year. YOU DESERVE to enjoy school.  You may not become a popular kid, but you certainly can take steps to comfortable in school.  Take risks, talk to people you normally wouldn’t talk to. Raise your hand. Show confidence! Don’t let the bullies bring you down. Stand up for yourself. If you see someone else getting bullied, stand up for them as well. Make friends and be there for other people who get bullied. If you band together, the bullies have no power.

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Depression Doesn’t Discriminate

I was sad when  I first heard of Robin Williams death. What I most remember him for was his role in The Dead Poets Society. His role as John Keating was inspiring as that of a teacher who supported and was there for others.  When I heard that his death was an alleged suicide due to depression,  I was even sadder.  I was hearing a lot of chatter of people asking, “What could he have to be depressed about? He had it all!”
People don’t think rich, famous, funny people can suffer from depression.  But they can. I know from experience that sometimes the ones who seem like they have the most going for them can be holding on by the slimmest threads.

Depression doesn’t discriminate.  It knows no boundaries. Young, old, rich, poor, fat, thin, beautiful, ugly, popular, nerd, loved, lonely- depression doesn’t see a difference and affects all kinds of people.

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Depressed people are not always the lonely loser eating lunch alone. They are also the cheerleader smiling as she sobs inside. They are one of the boys playing basketball in the park. They are the Mother pushing a carriage down the street smiling at her baby, the Dad throwing balls to his son, the dancer whirling, the singer singing her songs, the blogger writing.   The fact is, we can’t always tell if people are depressed or not just by looking at them . They are people, everywhere, just getting through the day however they can to get to the next day.

Robin Williams (as John Keating) said,

No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.

Words can hurt, but they can also heal. If you think you know someone who is depressed, just talk to them. Sometimes just one act of kindness can make all the difference to a person.  There was a day  when I was feeling like there was no way out of the  abyss my life had become, and I was about to make a really stupid choice, one person noticed, checked up on me and helped me hang one for one more day. I’ll forever be thankful to that person.
Depression is an illness. It can be treated. I promise, and am proof that you CAN be happy again.  But you need help.  If you think someone is depressed and in a bad place, the best thing you can do it to talk to them, constantly and let them know that someone cares and is there.  BUT ALSO, TELL SOMEONE ELSE, HELP THEM GET HELP. If you are depressed and feeling like there is no way out, please reach out to someone, anyone for help.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800- 273-8255.


Being Brave for Myself.

Today, I turn 16. I decided to give myself a gift.  The gift was this photo.

The last time I was in a bathing suit in public, I was  at a local amusement/water park on a class trip.  I was with minding my own business, eating an ice cream cone after swimming for hours, when a man came up to me out of the blue, and said

“ You don’t need that ice cream, You’re fat enough. Go throw it up”.

I threw the cone away, and cried.  I was already depressed and was bullied from people who were supposedly my friends.  Now perfect strangers were coming up to me and telling me I was worthless and disgusting. That’s when I began loathing myself. For real and in earnest, I began to believe things that people would say about me, and found things to hate about myself. That’s about the time I started to want to die.

I’ll fast forward 3 years. I’ve come so far, (with a  lot of help and love) and made a conscious decision. I was at the same water park, this time with my family.  I was so nervous I was shaking, but I took a deep breath, off my cover-up and asked my Mom to snap a photo.

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I’m not societies idea of perfect in this photo. But I’ve come so far!  I’ve moved from hating myself and wanting to die, to accepting and loving myself for who I am, and not what size I am.  I talk a lot about being brave and standing up to bullies and for the bullied, but it’s also so very important to be brave for YOURSELF.   Believe in yourself, and the gifts that you have.

Some people might look at this photo and see a fat girl.  I see a girl who fought many demons,  dealt with many medical problems, wanted to give up on life but crawled her way back inch by inch to see that life is wonderful, and in fact, decided to Be Brave and believe in herself.

I want to share this message from Eleanor Roosevelt said, with EVERYONE  that NO ONE can make you feel badly without your permission. I choose to believe what that man (and others) said, that I was a waste of life and not worthy of being in the same space as them. It was only when I decided to be courageous enough to believe that I was worthy and deserved to be happy did I take my life back.

#BeBrave. Stand up FOR the bullied, stand up TO the bullies, and most of all,  Stand UP FOR YOURSELF. You are worthy.


Top 5 Places for Plus Size Teen Clothes

Finding cute clothes that make you feel good about yourself can be hard.  When you’re a plus sized teenager, it’s almost impossible!  I live in a small town in Connecticut, and every time I go shopping is a hassle. The stores in my town, such as Kohl’s or TJ Maxx offer very little variety. The sections that used to home plus sized clothing have now shrunk to 1 or maybe 2 racks.  Even our local mall offers few selections for younger plus sixes people. Thank GOD for online shopping!    Part of feeling good about yourself is looking they way you want to look.  Finding young, hip, confident and trendy plus sized clothing should be easier. I’m not going to sugar coat it – a lot of the clothes I find are, most of the time, ugly.  A majority of plus size clothing is boxy, shapeless, dull, or looks like it is made for elderly women. Here is a hint to the fashion world:

Just because I’m larger than a size 12 doesn’t mean I don’t like stylish clothes.

I’ve resorted to often making my own clothing using things I find in thrift stores and DIY ideas (thank you Tumblr!).  Thankfully, I have found a couple places that have really cute, up to trend, clothing in plus sizes for things I don’t make.   Here’s a few:

Forever 21 Plus

Almost every teenage girl has heard of Forever 21, and has seen their clothing. Personally, I love Forever 21 Plus. The clothing is affordable, the clothes are well made, and the designs are trendy. There are many different varieties of styles you can choose from as well. I own multiple pieces from the store and love all of it. Forever 21 Plus clothing has a flattering fit and is similar to the other clothing in the store, so you don’t feel excluded from the cute pieces in the other sections. They offer sizes 1xl-3xl in shirts/dresses, and 12-20 pants.

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I have loved every piece of clothing I have gotten from this store. I have both shopped in the actual store and ordered online and I enjoyed both experiences. The clothes in the shops are very cute, and are extremely affordable.  The sales are great, too! They offer sizes 1-3x in dresses/shirts, and 14-24 pants. They also have a nice selection of lingerie, and sizes range from 36C-44DD

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Love Culture

Love Culture Plus size clothing is very up to date with trends, and is really well made. I have never been disappointed when getting an item from this store. The clothing I have gotten from there are great staple pieces in my wardrobe. They offer sizes 1xl-3xl in shirts/dresses, and 1xl-3xl in pants.

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Torrid

Torrid clothing is very well made and dependable. Torrid is probably one of my favorite plus size stores. The styles are diverse and there is a wide variety of styles to pick from. There is so much to pick from, no matter what your preference.  I have multiple pairs of bottoms from there and I adore the fit and feel of them. They have an wide range of sizes, from 12-28.

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Wet Seal

Wet Seal’s plus size section is very similar to their other sections. The clothing is affordable and is extremely comfortable to wear. Every time I’ve purchased something from the section, it becomes a big part of my wardrobe. They carry sizes xl-3x in shirts/dresses and 18-24 in bottoms.

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I’m really proud that at least a FEW companies recognize that  plus sized teens also want to wear stylish clothing and feel good about themselves.   I want to scream to the fashion world:  Pay attention!

I am part of a HUGE demographic. We’re young, we’re hip, we’re confident, and  want to be stylish. We also have money to spend on clothing. Why are you leaving us out?

Is there a favorite store of yours that offers plus sized clothing  for younger people?  And when is plus-sized fashion week again?


5 Reasons to Love 5 Seconds of Summer

The Australian pop-punk band, 5 Seconds of Summer, have taken the world by storm. However, they’ve already won over my heart. I have been a fan for a long time, but their global successful has my fan-girl heart swelling.

The boys have been toured with One Direction last year, and are joining them again this year during part of the Where We Are tour. I saw them at their headline show in Wallingford, Connecticut, and fell even deeper for the band. There are so many reasons to love this band.

1. Their Music     One reason to love 5SOS is their music!(Duh). The songs they sing, such as She Looks So Perfect, Don’t Stop, Good Girls, etc., automatically put you in a good mood when you listen to them. You want to dance around and sing the lyrics at the top of your lungs. ( I know I do when there isn’t anyone home.) They have a punk/rock vibe to most of their songs. Everyone in the band is amazingly talented with vocals, and the instruments they play. Other songs they have preformed, such as Wherever You Are, Beside You, and Amnesia are heartfelt, and can cause tears. They’re incredibly talented.

2. Their Performances     If you’ve ever seen a 5SOS live performance, you’ll know that the entire place is electric. When I saw them, the entire theatre was buzzing with excitement. The boys have so much energy on stage, it’s incredible. Their energy filled the entire building. The whole band seems to be in their element when on stage. They cover every inch of the stage, jumping around, sharing their excitement. They’re passionate performers, losing themselves in their music.

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 3.  The Members      Each member adds another reason to love 5 Seconds of Summer. The band has an amazing dynamic

Ashton Irwin, 19, is the drummer with dimples.

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Michael Clifford, 18, is a guitarist with the hair of many colors.

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Calum Hood, 18, is the bassist with a smile that could melt your heart.

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and Luke Hemmings, 17, is a guitarist with amazing blue eyes, and the lip piercing.

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While being attractive, that’s not all that draws people to this band. Each of their personalities makes the band lovable. Ashton is a bit dorky, but in a cute way, with his different types of laughs. Michael is sarcastic and a bit sassy, and has a bit of attitude, but overall is such a sweet person. Calum is easygoing and fun, and seems like an absolute sweetheart. Luke is a bit quiet, but his slight awkwardness is endearing. All of the boys are hilarious. Every interview and performance you see of them is sure to make you laugh.

4. They’re Themselves      5 Seconds of Summer don’t seem to try to fit the mold, and they embrace their quirks. They seem like the type of guys you want to be friends with. They look like they have a lot of fun together, and seem to be best friends. They have a very chill aura around them. The boys don’t try to hide who they are.  It seems as if you know them, just by watching videos and reading their daily tweets. It’s easy to feel connected to them, even if you’ve never met them.

5. Support     One of the best things about 5 Seconds of Summer, is that the band is extremely supportive of their fans, and vise-versa. The band often voices about how much they love their fans and how much they appreciate their support. In fact, they call their fandom a family, the 5SOS Fam. They tweet their fans, and remind them that they’re loved, and that they’re beautiful. They remind them that someone out there does care about them.  The 5SOS Fam is incredibly supportive of each other, and help each other get through tough things together. It’s amazing to hear stories of how music has saved lives, and this band is definitely a contributor to that.

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Have you heard 5SOS’s songs?   Do you have a favorite band member?


That Time I Didn’t Meet Demi Lovato

Last week,  Demi Lovato played a concert in New York City. as part of the Summer Concert Series for Good Morning America.  I really, REALLY wanted to interview her for my blog. I wrote to everyone a lot of people at GMA asking them to help me  get just a few minutes with her so I could  tell her my story and tell her how inspiring she is and how she helped save my life.  In the darkest moments, when I wanted to die, sometimes singing her songs were what kept me going for just one more night.   I thought that if I met her, it would be amazing and I’d be able to share with her my plans on stopping bullying.

How if everyone would just #BeBrave, bullying would end.

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I didn’t get to meet Demi. I never got to share with her how she helped me Stay Strong or tell her my story.  I was disappointed, but then something amazing happened.   I made hundreds of new friends camped out in Central Park waiting for a chance to hear Demi perform.  I got there about  1:30 am, and was about 200th in line.  Standing in that line,  I started talking to people, and we started sharing stories.

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The stories they shared are not mine to tell, but what I can tell you is  that we all had something in common.  We all were, at some point, lost, and needing to find strength and hope.  We shared a certain kind of frailness, yet extreme strength, that comes with  being broken and then put back together.  We were not only together to hear our hero Demi sing, but also to celebrate: We WERE strong and we made it through! We were ALL Warriors.

We are our own heroes.

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I thought that meeting Demi is what was important. I was wrong.  The people I met were the most important.  The stories we shared were important. What I found was even more important: community.  I think I got a lot more out sitting on a sidewalk in Central Park, huddled together with new friends, avoiding the stinky port-a-john, laughing and singing, sharing strength and hope and bravery.  So, Amanda, Paige, Roberta, Nicole, Jenn, Sam, Alana, and everyone else who sat in line to see our hero,  what we really did is reinforce:

WE ARE OUR OWN STRENGTH AND BRAVERY.

We can all, together and separately, share what we have with others who need it. The simplest way is to #BeBrave and stand up for ourselves and others, and for what we know: Bullying is wrong, depression is real, self-harm happens, but hope is there and we can ALL make it through.     IT GETS BETTER.

By the way, the concert was amazing and I was happy to see Demi (and was surprised by Cher Lloyd and Nicki Minaj ) but I left inspired and motivated by the people  I sat up all night with, waiting in line and sharing hope, strength and love.

Who inspires YOU?

Remember: #BeBrave: Stand up FOR the bullied, TO the bullies, and FOR yourself. If we ALL are brave, bullying will end.