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“I Went Viral for Being Bullied”

Cruel classmates embarrassed Lulu at school—and posted it all on social media. Lulu was crushed, but she didn’t give up. She found a powerful way to show she was stronger than her bullies.  

Price Chambers/AP Images for Scholastic

Lauren "Lulu" Williams, 16

    Lauren “Lulu” Williams was in middle school when her mom found the first bald spot on her head. 

    “When my mom showed me, I started crying,” Lulu says. “I wanted to hide.” 

    Lulu, now 16, has a condition called psoriasis (sor-EYE-uh-sis). Psoriasis causes patches of dry, scaly skin. The patches were making Lulu’s hair fall out. There are treatments that can help, but there is no cure.  

    The bald spots made Lulu feel self-conscious and ugly. She was already one of the shyest girls at her school in Franklin, Tennessee. Sometimes she got nervous and stuttered when she was called on in class. Lulu didn’t want one more thing to make her stand out.

    Lulu tried to cover the bald spots with braids. But sometimes it was impossible. So Lulu’s mom took her to buy a wig she could wear to school. Lulu attached it to her head with clips and glue.  

    Lulu knew kids whispered about her wig behind her back. She tried to ignore them. “My wig was like my security blanket,” Lulu says. “It made me feel like I fit in.”

     Lauren “Lulu” Williams is 16. When she was in middle school, her mom found a bald spot on her head.

    Lulu was upset. “I wanted to hide,” she says.

    Lulu has a condition called psoriasis (sor-EYE-uh-sis). It causes patches of dry skin. And it was making Lulu’s hair fall out. There are treatments that can help. But there is no cure.

    The bald spots made Lulu feel self-conscious. She was already very shy. When she was called on in class, she got nervous and stuttered. Lulu did not want to stand out.

    Lulu tried to cover the bald spots with braids. But sometimes that was not possible. So her mom took her to buy a wig she could wear to school. Lulu attached it to her head with clips and glue.

    Lulu knew kids whispered about her wig. She tried to ignore them. “My wig was like my security blanket,” she says. “It made me feel like I fit in.”

    Lauren “Lulu” Williams was in middle school when her mother noticed the first bald spot on her head.

    “When my mom showed me, I started crying,” remembers Lulu, now 16. “I wanted to hide.”

    Lulu has a condition called psoriasis (sor-EYE-uh-sis), which causes patches of dry, scaly skin. The patches were making Lulu’s hair fall out. There are treatments that can help with the symptoms of psoriasis, but there’s no cure. 

    The bald spots made Lulu feel self-conscious and unattractive. She was already one of the shyest girls at her school in Franklin, Tennessee. Sometimes she got nervous and stuttered when she was called on in class. Lulu didn’t want anything else to make her stand out at school.

    Lulu tried to conceal the bald spots with braids, but sometimes that was impossible. Finally, Lulu’s mother took her to buy a wig. Lulu attached the wig to her head with clips and glue. 

    Lulu was aware that her classmates whispered about her wig behind her back, but she tried to ignore them. “My wig was like my security blanket,” Lulu explains. “It made me feel like I fit in.”

A $5 Bet

    This past January, Lulu was talking with a friend in the school hallway. Suddenly, a boy snuck up behind her and ripped off her wig. He ran away with it. Lulu screamed. Her scalp felt like it was on fire. 

    Lulu covered her head and fled to the bathroom. She locked herself in a stall. She sobbed and yelled for her friends to get her wig back. 

    Then Lulu heard laughter. She looked up and saw a girl staring down at her. The girl was recording everything on her phone. It was the worst moment of Lulu’s life. 

    Why would anyone do something so cruel? Lulu later learned that the boy had torn off her wig on a $5 bet. He and his friends posted the whole event on Snapchat.

    This past January, Lulu was in the school hallway. All of a sudden, a boy came up behind her and ripped off her wig. He ran away with it. Lulu screamed. Her scalp felt like it was on fire.

    Lulu covered her head and ran to the bathroom. She locked herself in a stall. She cried and yelled for her friends to get her wig back.

    Then she heard laughter. She looked up. A girl was recording Lulu on her phone.

    Why did this happen? Lulu later learned that the boy had torn off her wig on a $5 bet. He and his friends posted the whole event on social media.

    In January 2018, Lulu was talking with a friend in the school hallway when a boy snuck up behind her, ripped off her wig, and ran away with it. Lulu screamed. Her scalp felt like it was on fire.

    Lulu covered her head and fled to the bathroom, where she locked herself in a stall. She sobbed and shouted for her friends to retrieve her wig.

    Then Lulu heard laughter and glanced up. A girl was staring down at her—and recording everything on her phone. It was the most devastating moment of Lulu’s life.

    Why would anyone do something so incredibly cruel? Lulu later learned that the boy had torn off her wig on a $5 bet. He and his friends posted the entire incident on Snapchat.

A Brave Decision

    Lulu cried all the way home from school. She was so upset, she couldn’t eat dinner. Her closest friends came over to console her. 

    Her mom gave her a new wig to wear to school the next day. Lulu stood in front of a mirror to put it on. Her scalp was red. There were cuts where her wig had been glued. 

    Lulu was angry. She knew everyone at school would be talking about her. That’s when she realized that she had nothing to feel ashamed about. She didn’t need to hide under a wig. 

    Right then, Lulu made a bold decision. She decided to shave her head completely. 

    Lulu went into the bathroom with her mom. As they ran the clippers over her head, Lulu’s hair fell to the floor. “I felt so free,” Lulu says. “My hair was the one thing that made me feel bad about myself.”

    Lulu’s friends were lined up on her mom’s bed. When she walked out with her shaved head, they cheered. 

    “They were lifting me up,” Lulu says, “and I started to feel beautiful.”

    Lulu cried all the way home. She was too upset to eat. Her best friends came over to console her.

    Her mom gave her a new wig. Lulu stood in front of a mirror to put it on. Her scalp was red. There were cuts where her wig had been glued.

    Lulu was angry. She knew her classmates would be talking about her. Then she realized she had nothing to feel ashamed about. Why should she hide under a wig?

    Lulu decided to shave her head.

    Lulu and her mom went into the bathroom. They ran the clippers over Lulu’s head. “I felt so free,” Lulu says. “My hair was the one thing that made me feel bad about myself.”

    Lulu’s friends waited outside. When they saw her shaved head, they cheered.

    “They were lifting me up,” Lulu says. She started to feel beautiful.

    Lulu cried all the way home from school. She was so hurt and humiliated that she couldn’t eat dinner. Her closest friends came over to console her.

    Her mother gave her a new wig, and Lulu stood in front of a mirror to put it on. Her scalp was red, and there were injuries where her wig had been glued.

    The thought of everyone at school talking about her made Lulu angry—and it suddenly occurred to her that she had nothing to feel ashamed about. She didn’t need to hide under a wig.

    In that moment, Lulu made a bold decision: to shave her head completely.

    Lulu went into the bathroom with her mother. As they ran the clippers over her scalp, Lulu’s hair fell to the floor. “I felt so free,” Lulu recalls. “My hair was the one thing that made me feel bad about myself.”

    Lulu’s friends were assembled on her mother’s bed. When she emerged from the bathroom with her shaved head, they cheered.

    “They were lifting me up,” Lulu remembers, “and I started to feel beautiful.”

Going Viral

    With Lulu’s permission, her mom and sister posted on social media about what happened. They begged people to do more to stop bullying. They included a photo of Lulu with her newly shaved head. 

    Lulu’s story quickly went viral. People sent messages of support. Lulu even got a shout-out from TV host Tyra Banks on Twitter: “I want you to know how unbelievably fierce you are.” The hashtag #Love2Lulu was trending.

    Lulu drew strength from those messages. “I felt loved and special,” she says. Lulu’s confidence grew. She no longer felt shy and afraid.

    With Lulu’s permission, her mom and sister posted on social media about what had happened to her. They wrote about the harm bullying does. They included a picture of Lulu with her newly shaved head.

    The story quickly went viral. People sent messages of support. Lulu even got a shout-out from TV host Tyra Banks on Twitter: “I want you to know how unbelievably fierce you are.” The hashtag #Love2LuLu was trending.

    Those messages made Lulu feel strong. She felt special. And she did not feel shy anymore.

    With Lulu’s permission, her mother and sister posted on social media about her experience. They begged people to increase their efforts to combat bullying. They included a photo of Lulu with her newly shaved head.

    Lulu’s story rapidly went viral, and messages of encouragement poured in. Lulu even got a shout-out from TV host Tyra Banks on Twitter: “I want you to know how unbelievably fierce you are.” The hashtag #Love2LuLu was trending.

    Lulu drew strength and courage from those messages: “I felt loved and special,” she says. Lulu’s confidence increased, and she stopped feeling shy and afraid.

Speaking Out

    Lulu began speaking out against bullying on TV and on social media, and at anti-bullying events. She has spoken in front of a hundred people—without stuttering. 

    Lulu wants to empower other teens. She started a website iamshamefree.com. She shares the message that you don’t need to look a certain way to be beautiful. 

    Lulu hopes to become a therapist one day to help other girls. She would also like to model—as long as she doesn’t have to grow her hair.  

    “I want other girls to know that beauty is not defined by the number of strands on your head,” Lulu says, “but by what’s in your heart.”

    Lulu now speaks out against bullying on TV and on social media, and also at anti-bullying events. She has spoken in front of 100 people —without stuttering.

    Lulu wants to empower other teens, so she started a website called iamshamefree.com. She shares the message that you don’t need to look a certain way to be beautiful.

    Lulu hopes to become a therapist one day to help other girls. She would also like to model, as long as she doesn’t have to grow her hair.

    “I want other girls to know that beauty is not defined by the number of strands on your head,” Lulu says, “but by what’s in your heart.”

    Lulu began speaking out against bullying on TV and on social media, as well as at anti-bullying events. She has spoken in front of a hundred people—without stuttering.

    In an effort to empower other teens and convey the message that you don’t have to look a certain way to be beautiful, Lulu started a website called iamshamefree.com.

    Lulu hopes to become a therapist in the future and help other girls cope with difficult experiences. She’s also interested in modeling, provided she doesn’t have to grow her hair. 

    “I want other girls to know that beauty is not defined by the number of strands on your head,” Lulu declares, “but by what’s in your heart.” 

ACTIVITY

Cause and Effect

You’ve just read “I Went Viral for Being Bullied” It’s time to try this activity!

You’ve just read “I Went Viral for Being Bullied” It’s time to try this activity!

You’ve just read “I Went Viral for Being Bullied” It’s time to try this activity!

What to do: A cause is what makes something happen. An effect is what happens as a result. In the chart below, fill in the missing causes and effects.

What to do: A cause is what makes something happen. An effect is what happens as a result. In the chart below, fill in the missing causes and effects.

What to do: A cause is what makes something happen. An effect is what happens as a result. In the chart below, fill in the missing causes and effects.

In middle school, Lulu’s hair started to fall out.

HINT: What did Lulu’s mom take her to buy?

In middle school, Lulu’s hair started to fall out.

HINT: What did Lulu’s mom take her to buy?

In middle school, Lulu’s hair started to fall out.

HINT: What did Lulu’s mom take her to buy?

HINT: What happened to Lulu in the hallway at school?

Lulu ran to the bathroom and locked herself in a stall.

HINT: What happened to Lulu in the hallway at school?

Lulu ran to the bathroom and locked herself in a stall.

HINT: What happened to Lulu in the hallway at school?

Lulu ran to the bathroom and locked herself in a stall.

With the help of her mom, Lulu shaved her head.

HINT: How did Lulu feel as a result?

With the help of her mom, Lulu shaved her head.

HINT: How did Lulu feel as a result?

With the help of her mom, Lulu shaved her head.

HINT: How did Lulu feel as a result?

HINT: Where did Lulu’s mom and sister share her story?

Lulu’s story quickly went viral, and people sent her messages of support.

HINT: Where did Lulu’s mom and sister share her story?

Lulu’s story quickly went viral, and people sent her messages of support.

HINT: Where did Lulu’s mom and sister share her story?

Lulu’s story quickly went viral, and people sent her messages of support.

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