"I am beautiful no matter what they say / Words can't bring me down," belted Christina Aguileria in her 2002 hit ballad, "Beautiful." It's old advice for teens haunted by high school bullies: you're better than them, just hold out until graduation and you'll see. Or in Dan Savage's now famous phrase for bullied LGBT youth: It Gets Better.
Now one British girl is proving the cliches right. Chloe Wood was tormented through high school, with classmates calling her "ugly" and a "swot," British slang for a nerd. At one point she was violently attacked by a group of her peers, kicked in the eyes, according to Wood, and ended up in hospital, missing two months of school.
"When I arrived at the school to pick her up after the attack I couldn't believe what I saw," Wood's mother told the Daily Mail. "Her eyes were so swollen she couldn't open them." As a result, Wood struggled through her GCSEs, national standardized exams, like the SATs, that British students take at the end of their sophomore year.
But sure enough, things changed at graduation. The organizer of the pageant Miss Local Beauty spotted pictures of Wood on MySpace, invited her to participate, and Wood ended up taking home the crown. Now she's modeling in her spare time to pay for her education. She's on track to become a doctor. "I spend a lot of my time studying but I keep fit by being a member of the university's cheerleading club," Wood said.
Wood is certainly not "ugly," as professional pageant judges have confirmed, but she remains a "swot," if by swot we mean a hard studier. Turns out, however, that doing your homework, while not necessarily a big social boon in high school, can get you pretty far in the real world.
"I've proven that I won't let the bullies beat me," Wood said.
Interestingly, many of the most successful and dreamy individuals in our celebritocracy were victims of high school abuse. Robert Pattinson, Christian Bale, Winona Ryder, Mila Kunis, and Madonna all overcame their high school torment, and some. As did the three most famous people in the universe: president Obama, Lady GaGa, and Jesus.
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