When high school senior Lynelle Cantwell was named in an “ugliest girls” poll circulating around her school, she used the Internet to fight back. But instead of attacking her tormenters or launching a similarly hurtful poll, the Canadian teen wrote a packed-with-confidence letter and posted it on her Facebook page.
“I’m sorry that your life is so miserable that you have to try to bring others down,” she wrote last week. “To the 12 people that voted for me to bring me to 4th place. I’m sorry for you too. I’m sorry that you don’t get to know me as a person. I know that I’m not the prettiest thing to look at. I know I have a double chin and I fit in XL clothes. I know I don’t have the perfect smile or the perfect face. But I’m sorry for you. Not myself.”
The poll, created on social media site ask.fm, asked students at Holy Trinity High in the eastern Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador to rank the school’s 12th grade girls. The school said it has “addressed [the] matter with the student population,” but Cantwell is still speaking out, giving interviews to news outlets and continuing to post about the matter on her Facebook page.
“It outraged me,” Cantwell told the CBC. “All of these girls are hurt because of this one person who has no heart or sympathy for anything.”
In the U.S., nearly 20 percent of high school students are the targets of bullying; just 36 percent of kids who are bullied report it to an authority figure. The effects of bullying are many, and include anxiety, depression and sleep problems, and more than half of all reported bullying incidents are related to a students’ looks. The good news is that 57 percent of bullying stops when a peer intervenes—so Cantwell’s letter could prevent her harassers from going after other students.
Cantwell’s Facebook post has received a huge amount of positive feedback from her community, with more than 250 likes and over 7,000 shares. She’s been praised on Twitter, too, with commenters commending her poise and beauty.
“It’s raised my confidence a lot. I will never be able to repay back the feelings people have been giving me,” Cantwell said.
Since her post went viral, the teen has received attention from news outlets around the world. Despite her popularity, however, she remains committed to her original goal: ending bullying. “I want everyone to know I appreciate all of the gifts and the attention I have received. However, what we are fighting for is to give everyone a voice when it comes to bullying and to take the power back from the bully,” she wrote on Facebook yesterday. “Hopefully the attention I have received worldwide will help us to achieve this goal. I don’t want anyone to feel left out or powerless. Together we are all fighting for this same goal. Let’s put a stop to bullying here and now.”
We’re cheering you on, Lynelle!
Photo via Facebook
Stephanie Hallett is research editor at Ms. Follow her on Twitter @stephhallett.