She may have been born this way, but that doesn’t mean Lady Gaga ever had an easy time of it. In a touching essay, her mom reveals the childhood torture Gaga endured and how it drove her to start a foundation to stop bullying for good.
Gaga’s mom Cynthia Germanotta penned the piece for The Daily Beast, and in it she shared the shocking treatment Gaga received at the hands of childhood bullies.
“When my daughter Stefani — who most people know as Lady Gaga — was a child, she had to learn painful lessons about the dangers of cruelty and the importance of kindness. She was creative and unequivocally her own person, but her peers didn’t always appreciate the things that made her unique — and different. As a result, they would sometimes taunt, humiliate or exclude her. It was hurtful for her to experience and heartbreaking for me to watch.
“But this mean-spirited treatment did more than sting in the moment — it shook Stefani’s confidence. The persistent, thoughtless cruelty of her peers caused Stefani to question her identity and self-worth. That self-doubt, in turn, led to anxiety, depression and destructive behavior. What in isolation may have been viewed as casually dispensed insults or ‘harmless pranks’ accumulated over time, causing a ripple effect that ate away at her emotional well-being.”
Germanotta explained that once Gaga rose to fame, she started hearing from fans around the world that they too were victims of bullying — and that they too suffered from depression and anxiety, self-harm and suicide attempts. So Gaga decided to do something about it.
“That’s why my daughter and I founded Born This Way Foundation. Grounded in the belief that the world can — and must — be a kinder and braver place, our organization is working to inspire young people to lead the best life possible and empower them with the tools they need to get there,” she explained.
In that vein, the foundation has joined with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence to launch the Emotion Revolution. “Dedicated to building awareness of the central role emotions play in young people’s learning, decision-making, relationships and achievement, the initiative is beginning with an unprecedented online survey of high school-age youth nationwide,” she said.
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Their research includes a sweeping survey of teens — “an opportunity for young people to make sure their voices are heard and for researchers to study how young people actually feel, how they want to feel and how to bridge the gap between the two,” she said.
When the data is compiled, it will be used to “[improve] our understanding of how to best equip them with the tools they need to succeed in every facet of life,” said Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence director Marc Brackett.