“If teenagers are happy with themselves, they are a lot less likely to go put someone else down.” – USA
In between graduating from high school and being idolized by none other than Lady Gaga, Emily-Anne Rigal is on a crusade to change the world for kids, and especially teenagers, who are affected by bullying. Rigal is an Internet personality known as “Schmiddlebopper,” and the founder of WeStopHate, a non-profit program with a mission to raise “teen-esteem” (self-esteem in teens) through online videos and social media. “It’s a movement by teens for teens,” says Rigal. “When teenagers are happy with themselves, they are a lot less likely to go put someone else down.”
For Rigal, the subject of bullying and self-esteem hits very close to home. “I was bullied in school,” she says. “I was teased and ostracized for being overweight when I was in fourth and fifth grade. It was a really lonely experience, leading me to eventually switch schools. [At the new school], my self-confidence gradually increased. The more I accepted myself, the happier I became.”
Rigal believes it’s her life’s work to help others accept themselves and spread a positive message about helping others. As an active YouTube community member, she tapped into other YouTube friends who all had huge followings, and WeStopHate was born. And it’s been a hit. WeStopHate.org currently has over 500,000 members sharing videos of their own stories, and offering advice to others affected by bullying on how they can put a stop to it. “One thing that I have learned is that we are all experts in our own story,” says Rigal. In fact, Rigal is such an expert and an inspiration, she was honored with a TeenNick Halo Award in 2011.
Today, Rigal talks with me about her plans for the future, and her advice for teachers and parents everywhere. I hope you enjoy today’s Daily Edventure.
Watch Lady Gaga’s video about the WeStopHate Campaign and Emily-Anne Rigal
About Emily-Anne Rigal
Founder & Director, WeStopHate
Birthplace: New York City, USA
Current residence: Williamsburg, Virginia, USA
Education: Starting college this Fall
Website I check every day: Twitter!
Person who inspires me most: Jess Weiner
Favorite childhood memory: Playing Monopoly with my best friend Hannah
Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Paris, France
When was the last time you laughed? Why? Five minutes ago — sending silly text messages back-and-fourth with Jess Weiner while she sat in hair and make-up
Favorite book: The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
Favorite music: Country!
Your favorite quote or motto: “I’ve never met a person I couldn’t call a beauty.” – Andy Warhol