The New York Post ran a piece the other day entitled “Jennifer Lawrence Reveals Bullying Past,” offering a bit of insight into the 22-year-old, recent Oscar-winning actress, Hollywood’s current “It Girl.” I expected it to be a compelling tale of how being treated cruelly gave her the drive to succeed, or perhaps, in an unexpected twist, a tale of how Jennifer herself bullied others. The truth turned out to be more underwhelming than either of those.
“I changed schools a lot when I was in elementary school,” revealed J-Law (I wish I could take credit for making up that nickname), “because some girls were mean.” The sole example noted in the article was her recollection that in middle school, a girl gave her invitations to a birthday party to hand out to other students – a party to which Jennifer herself wasn’t invited.
That’s pretty low, like something out of the film Mean Girls, but in all honesty, it’s pretty far down the scale as bullying goes; in fact, it’s so tame that I wasn’t sure why the Post even bothered. To be fair, this was only a piece of celebrity fluff, a feel-good tale of a young girl being snubbed by her popular peers in school and going on to become the biggest young star in Hollywood. But I couldn’t help being struck by its contrast to another news item from that same morning, about a teen named Malala Yousafzai.
Malala was in the news that day for releasing, from the British hospital where she’s been undergoing treatment, a three-minute video presentation as part of the United Nations International Women's Day commemoration. In the video, she calmly and firmly makes her case for oppressive societies to allow girls and boys an education. “We all have to fight for our rights,” she declares:
If we want each and every girl to be educated, if we want peace all through the world, for that reason we all have to fight. We all should be united and not wait for anyone else to come and speak up for us, we should do it by ourselves.
Malala’s very survival is testament to a fearlessness that most of us in America will never have to exhibit. She is rightfully nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, shaming the Taliban who still threaten to finish the murderous job they started if they ever get another chance.
(This article originally appeared here on Acculturated, 3/12/13)