Puerto Rican actress and Latina On a Mission, Gina Rodriguez is taking a stand on bullying. Working with the Be Good to Each Other campaign, she is raising awareness during National Bully Awareness Month.
Growing up I often heard adults state that children and teens were just horsing around. However, we now know that bullying, both online and off, causes serious, lasting negative effect.
More worrisome is the correlation between bullying and suicide. This is especially troubling for Latina teens who have one of the highest suicide rates. In NYC, Latina youth idealize, attempt or commit suicide at more than double the rate of white girls.
Living in two very distinct and opposing culturas/cultures can be extremely difficult for Latina youth to navigate. Latina youth consider or attempt suicide at a much higher rate than African Americans or whites. In New York City, these rates are more than twice the rate of white youth (13.3% vs. 5.9%).
At an age when Latina teenagers are struggling to find their place, it’s important that parents and adults support youth and individualism.
I asked Gina Rodriguez her take on bullying. Below are my questions and her responses.
In order to avoid bullying, it’s important to promote inclusion in communities, while also trying to support individualism. How can we do that?
As a community, we can promote inclusion by supporting individualism. I think the best thing that a person can be is accepting of others. We’re all different from one another – everyone should embrace the qualities they possess. With the Be Good to Each Other campaign, CustomInk is really doing that. They are encouraging young people to stand united against bullying and promoting kindness, acceptance and inclusion. ~Gina Rodriguez
As a #LatinaOnaMission to lower Latino childhood obesity rate, I’ve noticed it’s tied to bullying. How can we help kids live healthier lives?
I think it’s important to promote a healthy lifestyle for kids whether it’s signing them up for a sport or just making it a point to eat healthier. Be active as a family, everyone will benefit from the exercise and it’s also a great bonding experience.
In addition to my questions, Gina responded to several questions posed by GirlTalkHQ.com.
What kind of bullying did you experience growing up?
I felt the pressures and limitations of being a Latina women growing up, especially in Hollywood as I never saw Latina women playing positive roles. My two sisters are successful women – one’s a doctor and the other an investment banker but I never saw Latina women portraying these types of roles.
There are many ways women are often bullied in Hollywood, have you ever felt intimidated or pressured in a certain way?
I’ve definitely felt the pressure to look a certain way in Hollywood. I was diagnosed with thyroid disease when I was 19 years old, which caused my weight to fluctuate. I struggled with it in the beginning and thought there was no way that I could reach that ideal beauty size. However, with the help and support of my family, I was able to overcome my insecurities.
Why is it important that all of us do our part to stand up to bullying, more than in just one month of the year?
Bullying has a huge effect on young people and has led to mental health issues, substance abuse, and even suicide. That’s why it’s important to create an ongoing conversation about the topic and making sure that the issue is dealt with year round.
I applaud Gina Rodriguez for sharing her experiences and for taking a stand on bullying. As she stated, we must continue to promote kindness, acceptance and inclusion to combat the ugliness of bullying.
What is Be Good to Each Other?
- Be Good to Each Other campaign aims to unite students and adults in an effort to take a stand against bullying and promote kindness, acceptance, and inclusion within their communities.
- This year, CustomInk partnered with 12 celebrities and athletes who designed t-shirts that will be sold for $20 each – 100% of the profits from the sales of bullying prevention t-shirts will benefit PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center in its effort to engage, educate, and unite communities nationwide.
Which Celebrities are Supporting this Campaign?
- Notable celebrities and athletes include: Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin), Rachel Platten (Singer), Gracie Gold (Olympic Figure Skater), Melissa Rauch (The Big Bang Theory), Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (World Heavyweight Champion), Wesam Keesh (MTV’s Awkward), Quincy Davis (Professional Surfer), Alyson Stoner (Cheaper by the Dozen), Miles Heizer (Parenthood), Addison Riecke (The Thundermans), Aija Mayrock (The Survival Guide to Bullying), and Paola Andino (Every Witch Way).
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for iHeartMedia