Neon radiates a message of positivity—and our #NeonChicks are definitely glow-getters! Meet community activist, model and pageant queen Britain Bennett, who used her own painful experience to help others deal with bullying.
What was the bullying problem?
During my freshman and sophomore years of
high school, like the majority of millennials, I was often communicating on
social networking sites. A popular social media application allowed users to
ask questions and make comments anonymously. Initially, my experience with the
application was typical teenage communication, "Do you like this boy?" "Who are
the hottest kids at school?" Then the dialogue turned personal. I received
statements instead of questions, such as, "No one likes you at this school. You
are a slut. Just go kill yourself." Not knowing the source of these statements
made walking the hallways of my school excruciating. At this same time, my peer
group excluded me and I felt confused and alone. I refused to eat, go to school or even get
out of bed. At my lowest point, I told my parents I didn’t want to live
anymore. You can
hear more about my story here.
How/what was done to help with the
One of my favorite quotes is from former
President Barack Obama: "The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do
something." After months of reflection, I determined that I was put on Earth
for a purpose and I could use my experiences to help others. Through
journaling, I realized there were certain activities I engaged in that helped
me overcome bullying. I developed a strategy called "TBH" that outlined these
- Talk to
hurtful words from your head and your heart
I shared "TBH" with classrooms and
organizations; I wrote grants and received funding to produce and distribute
brochures in all Erie County,
Ohio middle schools; I presented at state bullying conventions and appeared on
the television network TLC; and I was asked to help produce and
record an anti-bullying theme song with Platinum Planet Records.
I emailed the Hillary Clinton campaign and
shared my strategy. I wanted to make the campaign aware of this growing issue
among my peers. I received a phone call from Hillary Clinton’s staff inviting
me to meet with the presidential hopeful! I met with former Secretary of State
Clinton and, together, we recorded an
anti-bullying video for YouTube! In the September edition of Teen Vogue, Hillary Clinton penned an
essay titled "Yes, She Can" discussing the biggest girl-power movement in
American history—and she opened her
essay with my story!
While I continue to help youth who have been
bullied, I recently undertook a proactive effort to
stop bullying before it starts by creating "Be a S.M.A.R.T. Parent Day."
The acronym S.M.A.R.T. stands for:
Media Awareness, Respect and Timing. This day reminds parents to be
a guiding force in their child’s social media use. The Erie County Commissioners
have proclaimed October 6 as "Be a S.M.A.R.T. Parent Day" in Erie County. I am
working with Ohio Senator Randy Gardner, U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur and
Director of Ohio Family & Children's First Council Chad Hibbs to receive
legislative support for a statewide "Be a S.M.A.R.T. Parent Day." My goal is to
make this a nationally-recognized day.
Now I have the wonderful opportunity to be a
part of "Neon Goes Local," which helps smaller charities (that are working hard
at a local level to help fight bullying) expand their reach. With the help of
Paul Mitchell® Neon™, I am hopeful that I will be able to help even more youths who are
suffering from being bullied by spreading "TBH" while garnering national
support for "Be a S.M.A.R.T. Parent Day."
What was the outcome?
I have directly impacted more than 3,000
children in my community and a countless number nationwide. Recently, I was contacted by Anna Hershiser
from Ohio, whose 14-year-old son Caleb committed suicide after being bullied at
school. While I was never able to share my "TBH" strategy with Caleb, I’ve
shared his story with my local representatives to create awareness about the
devastating effects of bullying. As a recipient of a scholarship from the
National Academy of Television, I also attended a regional Emmy’s ceremony in
June and used that opportunity to share Caleb’s story with as many reporters as
possible on that evening. I believe media can have a powerful influence and
promote inclusion and acceptance.
This fall, I will be a freshman at Ohio
State University where I will be part of the John Glenn Civic Leadership
Community. This community is for students who aspire to make a difference in
the world and have an interest in public policy, politics, civic engagement,
leadership and service. I will have the opportunity to meet with legislators
and continue my anti-bullying advocacy. As I was pursuing my passion of helping
youths overcome the pain of bullying and taking a proactive stance to stop
bullying, my life goals began to unfold. I realized the media enabled me to
create a culture of inclusion and acceptance nationally. At a time when our
country is divided and our inclusivity is in question, the media plays a
crucial role in unifying those of diversified backgrounds. In 10 years, you
will watch "Breakfast with Britain," a morning news program sharing the most
positive stories from around the world to reinforce a message of inclusion and
We want to
hear how you’re taking a stand against bullying!
Click here to share your inspiring stories. To learn more about Britain’s efforts, click here.