Lauren Jauregui is proud as f*ck. The singer came out as bisexual in 2016 in a memorable letter written for Billboard, where she told the world her truth while strongly denouncing President Trump's policies. She's been unapologetically queer ever since, and a positive role model for younger LGBTQ people on social media, most recently performing during World Pride. Now, Lauren Jauregui's advice to LGBTQ fans dealing with cyberbullying is a powerful message for her younger LGBTQ followers that promotes self-awareness and transparent communication.
As a member of the immensely successful girl group Fifth Harmony, Jauregui learned you don't become a famous singer without collecting some internet haters, but her experience with online hate was compounded even more when she came out in 2016.
Jauregui tells Elite Daily that in order to cope with the cyberbullying she receives from homophobic internet trolls on a regular basis, she had to learn that, most of the time, online haters are just projecting.
"One of the main things I’ve learned is to not take people’s opinion of me personally, especially when they’ve never held a single conversation with you," she says. "It’s really easy to get caught up in strangers not loving you, because we’re all taught to be accepted, and to do what makes you accepted, but you’re never going to please everyone."
Jauregui adds that people mistreating you, for whatever reason, oftentimes is more telling about their character than your own.
"You could be the most incredible peach in the world. Like the juiciest, most beautiful-looking peach you’ve ever seen, and somebody still doesn’t like peaches," she says. "You just gotta be yourself and understand that that comes with not being loved by everyone. And that’s OK, because other people not being able to love and accept you does not reflect what you offer. It reflects what they’re capable of accepting."
Online hate, of course, isn't an exclusively celebrity experience. Jauregui spoke at the Hershey Makers of Good Teen Summit on June 20 to speak on the topic of teens feeling socially isolated because of social media and cyberbullying. She tells me that, through this summit and through open communication online, she hopes to impart the coping mechanisms she's learned over the years to her fans.
"It’s, unfortunately, the nature of the beast when you have an anonymous name on the internet and can say whatever you want with no consequence... It’s about navigating that and distancing [yourself] from people with negative opinions."
Jauregui notes that while it's important for LGBTQ teens to take care of themselves in the face of cyberbullying, self-care must be supplemented with help from schools.
"Punishments don’t do anything," she says of bullies who just get a slap on the wrist because ~free speech~. "They have to understand why their actions are incorrect ... I feel like a lot of the time people mask hatred with the excuse of, 'Oh, well, I’m just saying my opinion' ... I would just say to the young kids receiving that kind of hatred and being told that the person sending that hatred is valid — it’s just not."
She says that schools having anti-bullying policies is important, but she feels that having open forums for discussion is imperative in changing bullying culture among teens.
"A lot of times, the perpetrators are coming from a place of very intense insecurity when they [bully], and so it would be beneficial for both parties involved to really get down to why it happened, and for that to be discussed," she says.
But what about the moments outside of school, when bullied teens don't have a school administrator (or anyone, in some cases) to turn to for help? Jauregui has a message for those struggling teens.
"Baby, pick yourself up, look at yourself in the mirror, write yourself some affirmations about how beautiful you are and how worthy you are, because you’re alive, and you’re here, and you’re you," she says. "That’s something that the people who are making fun of you cannot say about themselves. Because no one who loves themselves would be able to hurt you.”
In other words, be unapologetically proud that you are you. You're allowed to take up space in the world, so take that space, and take it with pride.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.