Newly-crowned Miss Teen USA 2012, Logan West, is using her platform to speak out against bullying. The issue received national attention recently with the number of teen suicides attached to high school bullies so West’s cause is both timely and topical.
As a middle-schooler and high school freshman, West said she was bullied for “not acting her skin color.” She was punched, kicked and stabbed with umbrellas by a group of bullies until it escalated into a fight where she was suspended from school. During her suspension, she came up with her own anti-bullying program that she began promoting around the state after winning the Connecticut Outstanding Teen Pageant in 2010. She said: “I waited so long to say something that it was almost my fault.”
West, whose mother is black and father was white, endured what many black students experience growing up. Being a student who overachieved in school, she was tormented by other students for “not acting black” enough.
I was bullied for the same reason growing up in a racially diverse suburb and even felt pressure to lie about my grades to fit in with certain crowds. Now that I’m older, I know that my blackness is not up for debate and that I can embrace my culture while excelling in academics. In fact, it’s something I now take pride in.
As a student, I stood up to groups of kids that teased me for “acting white” and found solace in like-minded friends. But many children suffer constant taunting and ridicule, and don’t know how to confront their bullies and stop the torment.
West hopes to change this:
“Being Miss Teen USA will give me the opportunity to educate students about bullying on a national level and share my story. It wasn’t always easy, but my parents made sure that I learned how to cope with it and ensure that I didn’t stay introverted. […] I lost who Logan was when I was being bullied, but I found that participating in pageants helped me find ‘her’ again as well as gain the confidence to be a role model and voice for others. During my reign, I hope to share with teens the importance of being true to yourself.’’
West has created a program called “Bully Proof: Empowering Children Today to Prevent Bullying Tomorrow,” to help students that are victims of bullying. It’s a noble cause and we applaud West for bringing it to the forefront and working to bring about change.