Victoria Beckham reveals torment from childhood bullies: ‘I was never the popular girl’

Victoria Beckham is opening up about her experience with bullies.

“BE THE KINDEST IN THE CLASSROOM!” she wrote as part of her caption for a recent Instagram post in honor of anti-bullying week in the U.K. She went on to explain that she is raising her 12-year-old daughter, Harper, to be “strong and caring” and always stand up for what is right.

“Growing up I was bullied a lot at school, and I often tell Harper how important it is to be kind and call out if anyone is ever bullied — especially if there’s ever another little girl on her own in the playground, because that was once her mummy!” she continued. “This #AntiBullyingWeek it’s so important not to be silent if someone is alone or being bullied. xx Kisses #HarperSeven I love you so much xx.”

The fashion designer has spoken about her experiences as a child in the past, telling The Business of Fashion at the BoF VOICES 2022 she was “very badly bullied at school,” saying she got through the tough times by “keeping [her] head down and working hard.”

“I’ve always had to work really, really hard. Nothing ever came easy to me,” she said. “When I was in school, I was never the most academic, I was never the pretty girl in class, I was never the popular girl in class … I mean was quite the opposite.”

Here’s a look at a few other celebrities who have opened up about their experiences with bullying.

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When Lady Gaga starred in “A Star Is Born,” the Grammy Award-winning singer was tasked with playing a character who was trying to find her way into the music industry but who didn’t “believe in herself at all.” 

She told People in September 2018 that the difference between her and Ally “is that when I decided I was going to go for it as a singer and songwriter, I just hit the ground running” while Ally was “very jaded by the music industry, and she’s given up on herself.” Even though Gaga and the character she portrayed took different approaches to success, she was able to pull from her past to get into Ally’s mindset.

“What I had to do was go back further into my childhood, into my high school years, when I was bullied and made fun of for having big dreams,” she explained. “That’s where I went. But I think I went further because I trusted Bradley [Cooper] so much — to be vulnerable, to be my authentic self.”

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It seems as though her tactic worked as Gaga went on to receive a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in the movie, even winning three Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and an Academy Award for the music she created for the film.

In 2018, Blake Lively posted a photo of herself on Instagram posing with Big Bird from “Sesame Street,” admitting she was “still geeking out” about having met the famous bird.

“Kids used to make fun of me in elementary school by calling me Big Bird (because I was “too tall” and had “yellow” hair),” the caption continued. “Here’s to making best buddies with the things that once hurt you.”

Lively previously admitted she didn’t want a career in the industry, but her brother convinced her to start going on auditions when she was 15. She ended up quickly booking the role of Bridget in “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” in 2005 and later landing the part of Serena Van der Woodsen in “Gossip Girl” in 2007, just two years after graduating from high school.

“I thought, ‘OK, I’ll try a movie.’ And I was loving films, so I thought, ‘No, I don’t want to try TV.’ But now I’m loving being on the show more than I ever could have imagined,” she told W Magazine in December 2008. “It has been just the most amazing experience anybody could ever ask for. It’s such a blessing.”

Academy Award-winner Kate Winslet has spoken about the bullying she experienced in school, and as a young actress, on a number of occasions. When giving a speech at the fourth annual WE Day UK event in 2017, Winslet said of her classmates, “They called me Blubber. Teased me for wanting to act. Locked me in the cupboard. Laughed at me.”

“I was even told that I ‘might be lucky with my acting, if I was happy to settle for the fat girl parts,'” she remembered. “I felt that I wasn’t enough, I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t look right … and all because I didn’t fit into someone else’s idea of ‘perfect.’ I didn’t have the perfect body.”

Winslet explained that she continued to audition and take part in her school plays despite “often get[ting] cast as the crocodile or the scarecrow or the dark fairy.”

“I was even a dancing frog once,” she said.

Winslet said that no matter how small her role was, she “didn’t care.”

“I still loved it. I loved acting,” Winslet noted.

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“It didn’t matter how big or small the parts were. I wanted to be great, and I was determined to keep learning. And then one day, I was cast as Rose in ‘Titanic,’” she said. “The most unlikely candidate, Kate from the sandwich shop in Reading, suddenly acting in one of the biggest movies ever made!”

The actress has gone on to win one Academy Award, with seven nominations, five BAFTAs, with 11 nominations, two Emmy Awards, five Golden Globes, with 12 nominations, and four SAG Awards, with 13 nominations.

In her 2021 memoir “Unfinished,” Priyanka Chopra opened up about experiencing racist bullying when she began attending high school while living with her aunt in Massachusetts. She expanded on the bullying she endured during an interview with People in January 2021, saying girls would tell her “brownie, go back to your country” and “go back on the elephant you came on” as they passed one another in the halls.

“I went into a shell. I was like, ‘Don’t look at me. I just want to be invisible,'” she explained. “My confidence was stripped. I’ve always considered myself a confident person, but I was very unsure of where I stood, of who I was.”

She explained that at the time she took it very personally,” saying that “deep inside, it starts gnawing at you.” Chopra wrote that after a while, she reached out to the school’s guidance counselor, but received no help from them.

Looking back, Chopra says that “at the other side of 35, I can say that it probably comes from a place of them being insecure” and she doesn’t take their words to heart anymore.

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The “Quantico” actress eventually moved back to India to finish her schooling, going on to win the Miss World title and becoming a major star in the Bollywood film industry. After moving back to America as an adult, Chopra was cast as the lead in “Quantico” and has since appeared in “Baywatch,” “The Sky is Pink,” “The Matrix Resurrections” and “Citadel.”

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Emily Blunt has been very open about getting bullied as a child because of her stutter. She first spoke about her stutter in April 2018, saying she used to speak in “a lot of funny voices because [she] could speak more fluently if [she] didn’t sound like [herself].”

Blunt explained to People magazine that it runs in her family and that she has “an uncle, cousin, grandfather who stuttered,” noting it was particularly “the worst, having it at 12, 13,” since “people tease it still.”

The actress also detailed how she discovered acting at 12 years old when a teacher encouraged her to audition for the class play, telling her, “I think you are funny, and you should do it. And have you ever thought about doing it in a different voice?”

“I wouldn’t say that’s why I’ve ventured into acting, but it was just a bit shocking the first time I was able to speak, you know, doing a silly voice or an accent pretending to be someone else,” Blunt told People magazine. “People don’t talk about [it] enough if it hasn’t got enough exposure, and millions of people around the world struggle with it.”

Blunt is able to help others going through similar struggles by working with the American Institute for Stuttering. In 2020, she told People that her work with the institute is “the one that pierces [her] heart probably most profoundly” due to her experience with it.

“I know it in every nuance, and so to be able to help and to be able to offer up any advice or assistance or emboldenment that I can, it just is the greatest pleasure for me because it’s a very misunderstood, misrepresented disability, and … it’s one that is very often bullied and laughed at because people look funny and sound funny when they stutter,” she said.

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