Thirteen year old Ashley Berry is a formerly shy, quiet girl who didn’t like speaking in front of people until she began looking for opportunities at the age of ten that allowed her to do just that. These days you can’t get her off stage or away from the camera! Ashley started competing in “natural” pageants (no makeup allowed) that helped improve her confidence and gave her a desire to go out into her community and make a difference.
Now, there’s no telling where you’ll find her at any given time…on stage in a community play or talent competition, acting or modeling in front of the camera, volunteering for any number of organizations in the community, studying to keep her Honor Roll status, attending a club or after-school activity, or writing her latest article for BYOU “Be Your Own You” Self-Esteem Magazine for Girls.
Even in the midst of her whirlwind schedule balancing school and community activities, Ashley couldn’t escape the experience that many of today’s youth are being forced to endure. Along with the relative fame that comes with many of Ashley’s outside interests and activities came what is most often referred to as the “mean girl” syndrome. Suddenly, those closest to Ashley seemed to turn on her and her own life turned upside down as she spent the next two years battling depression and fear.
With the help of her family and teachers, Ashley gained the confidence to stand up for herself and others to help ensure that no one else go through what she did. Ashley is now an internationally recognized anti-bullying advocate and openly shares her experiences in the media and through public appearance opportunities. In addition to receiving various state awards for her volunteer efforts, she has been recognized internationally by We Change Worlds and nationally as a recipient of the Teens Who Inspire Us award, as well as being featured as an Inspirational Youth by Inspire Me Today and Kids Are Heroes. Ashley has also been featured in interviews with Dessert News and Scholastic Choices magazine, as well as being a frequent guest of The Good News with Angie Austin on 810 KLVZ. She is also busy creating the 5K Race To Stop Bullying in her community for 2013. Being a spokesperson for BYOU Magazine has also opened the door for Ashley to reach out to girls across the country so that she can encourage them to be proud of who they are and to just B-YOU!
Words of wisdom from Ashley Berry:
Bullying is a problem that affects too many people and it needs to stop. To those being bullied, know that it’s ok to talk to someone; a parent, friend, trusted adult, teacher, sibling or anyone else that you feel safe with. Even if you’re scared at first, it will pay off in the long run. I believe it’s important for everyone to be themselves. Other people need to accept you for you and not someone you’re trying to be. The world would be really boring if we were all alike, but think of how wonderful it is with so many different personalities, styles and interests! Dr. Suess said it best, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
Think of the kid who is quiet and shy and gets picked on for being a “nerd.” Shouldn’t he be allowed to enjoy his own interests without being afraid of what others think about him? What about the student who is popular and excels in and out of school? Many people think those are the kids that have it made. I learned from personal experience what jealousy can do among your peers. Or the student who gets straight A’s and is singled out and picked on for being “Teacher’s Pet.” Everyone (kids, teens and adults) should be able to feel comfortable being themselves and know that they will be accepted by their peers.
Every form of bullying (physical, emotional and cyber) is just as bad as the rest. They all cause hurt to another person. Every day, 1 out of every 6 students is bullied and 1 out of every 6 of those students leave their school due to the negative impact bullying has had on their life. So next time you see someone being bullied, please speak up and say something. Although it may seem like a small thing to do, I can assure you it will mean a lot to that student that you were willing to stand up and help them. Again, I bring up the great words of wisdom from Dr. Suess, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.”
If you don’t feel accepted or find your friends turning on you, be strong enough to walk away and make new friends who DO accept you for who you are. My personal experiences taught me that just because someone calls themselves your best friend doesn’t mean that their actions always back that up. A TRUE friend accepts you for who you are, is genuinely excited for your accomplishments, doesn’t talk about you behind your back, and is someone that you can confide in without fear that they will share your secrets.
One of the companies that I am proud to be associated with is BYOU “Be Your Own You” Magazine. I encourage all girls 6-16 years old to check them out. The stories and articles are full of empowering messages that encourage everyone to Be Your Own You and have been a big support to me as I learned to overcome my own experiences and stand up for others. Our motto is “Be Your Own You – because every girl deserves healthy self-esteem!”
Visit Ashley Berry for more information.