Soulful songstress launches anti-bullying campaign
KIMBERLEY BANJOKO Special to the AmNews | 8/18/2011, 2:25 p.m.
Up-and-coming singer Stephanie Courtney wrapped up shooting the music video for her debut song, "Taken Over," which kicked off Courtney's anti-bullying campaign last week. Spurred by a recent death at her Long Island high school, the campaign is geared towards empowering victims and depowering aggressors.
"People can be really mean, and when this happens, we let it get to us and forget to love ourselves for being different," Courtney stated. "Love, appreciate and accept yourself for who you are so others can too."
Bullying can be any kind of harassment, from friendly teasing amongst peers to cyber bullying by strangers, to even the more severe form of physically abusive encounters. Once heckled by peers about her severe skin condition, Courtney took the liberty to write for the victims of the unsavory practice. Set in her song is a type of homage to people who experience the most persecution, such as gays, people of color, people with weight issues and those who are casted out by their community.
"Everyone knows how horrible it is to be bullied," explained Courtney. "You feel alone, excluded and helpless, and when I heard about one of my peers' suicide as a result of harsh cyber bullying, I wanted to get involved."
The 17-year-old performer explained how she is no stranger to what it feels like to be taunted and teased, experiencing bullying firsthand during middle school. Eczema is a skin disorder that currently has no cure. This form of dermatitis, or skin inflammation, is characterized by recurring skin rashes that are swollen, dry and itchy and results in blistering, pus and bleeding if not treated properly. Courtney's early adolescence featured the peak of her condition, with her most visible dry rashes appearing on her eyelids, arms and elbows.
"My outbreaks would get so painful I was unable to attend school," Courtney detailed. "Kids would pick on me, but I was lucky to have a strong, loving family to go to and talk about these things."
The best way to combat bullying is with support from family, friends and mentors, Courtney says. Bullies are usually insecure about their own selves and seek to hurt others as a distraction.
"If someone is tormenting you, talk about it," Courtney said. "Don't let it take over you. No one deserves to feel that way."
Courtney is currently performing and promoting her cause all over New York City, with her next big show in Brooklyn this Aug. 20. Visit stephaniecourtneymusic.com for more information.