It's easy to look at celebrities and make a whole fist full of assumptions. That life has been better for them for a myriad of reasons: their talent, their charisma, their looks. That their experience as famous people is so far removed from our own that they're barely even comparable experiences. Of course, this is not true. Just because they're famous now doesn't mean they haven't suffered, or continue to suffer, some form of bullying or insecurity. Take, for example, Blake Lively, who revealed she was bullied as a kid Tuesday and it's a powerful reminder that we don't get to make assumptions about someone's past just because we think we know a little something about their present.
The Shallows actress was on the set of Sesame Street recently filming an appearance, which makes me like her about 40 percent more than I already did, when she decided to take an especially significant selfie with one of the cast members. A certain large, yellow bird named Big Bird, in fact. The significance? As Lively noted in a caption when she shared the photo on Instagram, she was bullied at school and compared to Big Bird because of her height and the color of her hair.
Lively, who is the mother of 3-year-old daughter James and 1-year-old daughter Ines with husband Ryan Reynolds, wrote of meeting Big Bird:
Still geeking out 😍. Kids used to make fun of me in elementary school by calling me Big Bird (because I was “too tall” and had “yellow” hair). Here’s to making best buddies with the things that once hurt you 🥂💗
Blake Lively, she of the golden hair and the megawatt smile, known the world over as a beautiful, talented woman, was once bullied and compared to Big Bird. And it's obviously something that stayed with her, because she's now a successful 30-year-old woman and still sort of thinking about it. If that doesn't impress upon you the long-term damage of childhood bullying, I don't know what will.
Happily, Lively seems to have gotten some pretty glorious closure after her visit to Sesame Street.
This isn't the first time Lively has opened up about being bullied as a child; in 2009 the Gossip Girl actress told Vogue that she had a difficult time while she attended a private school in Los Angeles as a kid, according to Metro:
It was the only school where people were just downright mean to me. They would make fun of my clothes because I dressed differently than the other kids.
While it's a terrible experience for anyone to be bullied, Lively seems to have taken her experience of being somewhat ostracized when she was younger and channeled that into a well-developed sense of compassion. Back in 2016, she stood up for new moms who might be feeling a ridiculous amount of pressure to "lose the baby weight," telling People:
You don’t need to be Victoria’s Secret-ready right away because you just did the most incredible miracle that life has to offer. I mean you gave birth to a human being! So I would really like to see that celebrated.
In a perfect world, there would be no such thing as a childhood bully. All kids would get the opportunity to grow up free from fear, from insecurity, from loneliness. But since it's not a perfect world, at least there are people like Blake Lively who might give kids hope, might act as a model for kids to see that being bullied doesn't define you. That you can move on to greater things. And that, one day, you might even get to meet Big Bird.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.