Sunday, July 22, 2012

for anyone with troubles to speak

Huffington Post: "...That video changed my life. For some reason, even though I was on screen for less than 10 seconds, something about my dancing (which, I admit, wasn't exactly... professional) made a lot of people really, ridiculously, inexplicably angry. And voilĂ ! I became the new target of quite a few Internet haters. Suddenly thousands of total strangers were saying rude things about me and calling me names like: lame, loser, awful, worthless, annoying, fat, ugly, dumb, horrible, stupid, freak -- and those aren't even the bad ones, lol. They also made gifs of me dancing and reposted it all over YouTube and Facebook (but I gotta admit, those were pretty hilarious). It seemed like the whole world had something to say about me. At first I was pretty shocked because, I mean, I'm just a kid who danced in a video, right? But then I realized that all that hate couldn't have been directed at me personally. How could someone really hate someone they know absolutely nothing about? So I laughed and I joked with the haters. I admitted that, yes, my dancing was pretty awkward, thank you very much. And then something happened. Something that I didn't expect at all. People who were hating on me suddenly started taking an interest in me. They made Facebook fan pages for me and started putting my photo as their profile pictures! The first time I saw it, I was just like, "... what?!"

They didn't know my name, so they were calling me "Sammy," "Madge," "Nadine," and "that girl in pink that dances awkwardly." So then I made my own official Facebook profile and fan page. I was getting thousands of questions every day, along with requests for me to do my dance, to sing, and to marry them on Facebook! What was even more amazing was that people started asking me for advice on how to deal with bullying and asking how I stayed so positive when everyone was being so mean. They were sharing the things that they were going through at home and at school. They were struggling with their weight, or their sexuality, or abusive relationships, and so many other things. Basically, anything these kids were facing, they were sharing with me. Reading story after story, my heart was broken. So I did my little awkward four-second dance for them in my YouTube videos (which helped raise money for earthquake relief in Japan). I organized teams of people from around the world to walk with me for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's annual "Great Strides" fundraiser. Then I wrote an e-book on how to handle cyberbullying (if you'd like to read it, it's available as a free download on And then, I remembered something. Something I wrote down long before the "Friday" video. Quite a while ago, I was on a site called Six Billion Secrets. It's a site for anyone with troubles to speak about what they're going through in a completely anonymous, non-judgmental setting. After reading stories about kids getting bullied, raped, abused, or kicked out, I didn't know what to do with all that emotion. I mean, on the outside, these kids looked just like me. On the inside, they were hiding some terrible secret. Any one of those stories could have been posted by my closest friend. So I wrote down what I was feeling and it sort of turned into a song. It was a song about getting through what's happening in your life. A song saying, "Yeah, this is tough. But there is light at the end of this tunnel..." (I'm 'That Girl in Pink' )

Benni Cinkle rose to Internet fame in March, 2011 when she appeared in a music video that went viral on the Internet (approximately 180 million views). At first, she was ridiculed by the world for her awkward dancing, but instead shying away from the attention, she decided to use her 15 minutes of fame to raise awareness for the things she cares about most. Benni has been actively involved with charities for as long as she can remember. She modeled the example of her mom, a successful business owner and active community volunteer...Today, Benni is Founder and Vice President of the That Girl in Pink Foundation, a 501c3 organization. She established it shortly after receiving global Internet attention in order to better lend her support to many worthwhile causes (About Benni).

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Bullying is an abusive treatment, the use of force or coercion to affect others, particularly when habitual and involving an imbalance of power. It may involve verbal harassment, physical assault or coercion and may be directed persistently towards particular victims, perhaps on grounds of race, religion, gender, sexuality, or ability. The "imbalance of power" may be social power and/or physical power. The victim of bullying is sometimes referred to as a "targeted individual" (Wikipedia).