Why Zendaya Will Never Stand Idly by While Someone Is Bullied Again

Why Zendaya Will Never Stand Idly by While Someone Is Bullied Again
Photo: Getty

Don’t even think about putting Zendaya down—or bullying someone else in her presence. She may be an actress, but she’s committed to using her accumulated fame for good, to fight against daily injustices and give a voice to those who perhaps can’t fight for themselves. It all goes back to something that happened to her when she was in the fifth grade, and she saw a classmate being bullied, as Glamour reports. Though Zendaya wasn’t directly involved with the incident—she was a witness—her parents “pulled me out of the classroom, and I got a little bit cussed out,” she told the publication. “I was like, ‘This is B.S. I didn’t do anything.’ But the point was, when you see something happening, you don’t just stand there. Knowing something is wrong and not doing anything is basically like doing it.”

It’s a powerful lesson. And though Zendaya calls acting “my passion,” the days of standing idly by while someone else was tormented ended when she was in grade school. As they say, with great power comes great responsibility, and the actress understands her reach. “As I’ve started to understand the power and influence I have, I’ve realized it’s really this avenue for me to do bigger, more meaningful things,” she said. “For me to help somebody.”

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She’s not just talking about it—she’s doing something. When she was just 18 years old, she moved her fans into action to support Convoy of Hope’s feedONE initiative, Glamour writes. At 19, she raised $50,000 for UNAIDS, the United Nations’ program that is working to end AIDS worldwide. “She is showing that young people are actors of change: supporting young girls, refusing to accept violence against women,” said Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS. “Zendaya is a role model for that new activism.”

Zendaya also isn’t afraid to speak up in her own life. When Modeliste obviously retouched a photo of her, she called them out on Instagram—and the magazine apologized. “These are the things that make women self conscious, that create the unrealistic ideals of beauty that we have,” she wrote alongside a side-by-side comparison of her real body and the Photoshopped image. “Anyone who knows who I am knows I stand for honest and pure self love.”

And don’t forget about the time Giuliana Rancic noted that Zendaya must smell of “patchouli” and “weed” when she appeared on the red carpet with her hair in beautiful locs. Instead of firing off an angry response, Zendaya took the time to respond thoughtfully on Instagram. Of her initial desire of fighting fire with fire, Zendaya said that she let it go. “I was like, ‘You know what? Delete that. I’m going to write something that’s actually powerful.’”

When Zendaya sees her influence going to good use, she’s encouraged to continue on the path. “You have to learn to appreciate yourself and the power you hold,” she said. “Whatever is inside of you—your soul, your power—find it. See it. Respect it. Protect it. And use it.”

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