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October is National Bullying Prevention Month. It’s important to share stories, not only on how redheads were bullied, but how they overcame it. We spoke with Michelle Payer, a successful recognized leader in public relations and marketing. With beautiful freckles and long red hair, she shared her experiences growing up and how the childhood negativity forced her to succeed in the end.

“I am a proud redhead and I was bullied growing up. Called every name from ‘towering inferno to ‘fire crotch’ to ‘redhead freckle face chimpanzee,” said Michelle, originally from Portland, Oregon. “One particular vicious grade school bully held a knife to my throat while his brother chased me. I even had eggs thrown at my house by a gang of girls.”

For those who are bullied, it’s very important to have a “safe haven” to go to, whether it be a best friend or close family member. Eventually, your confider will make you realize that the bullies are the ones with the problem, not you.

“I overcame a lot, but it took me a very long time for me to ‘let go’ of the residual effects of bullying. My family absolutely helped. I know I always came home to loving parents and a kind, generous, sweet, protective sister,” said Michelle.

She continued, “The way I see it is, the bullied person has two choices:

1. Fold under the bullying or

2. Become even stronger. Plow through and develop a fierce inner core that can only come from adversity.

I chose #2. I developed hobbies that took me outside the bullying sphere.  I chose tennis, theater, skiing and the school newspaper. There was a different group of people in each group, especially in theater. The thespians are on the fringe — they are creative types that no one really understands, so that was a brilliant haven and creative outlet. As a newspaper reporter, I interviewed other and heard stories. And, you hardly EVER see bullies on the debate team!”

In the end, Michelle is a successful entrepreneur who never let the bullies get the best of her.

“All of these activities took me away from the bullies and helped develop my self-confidence with skills and talents shared and valued by others. I truly wish there was the interest, insight and action then as there is now to combat bullying.”

It’s essential to continue our quest to combat bullying and simply put: we should all be nice to one another.

Rock it like a Redhead! 

Photo Credit: Michelle Payer, via Facebook