The Supermodel And the Mean Girls
Model and actress Tracy Trinita has been chosen as one of the ambassadors of the “Stop Bullying” campaign for a good reason.
Born to a Brazilian father and a Chinese-Indonesian mother, Tracy’s height and fair skin meant she stood out from her Indonesian peers when she was growing up.
“I experienced both verbal and physical bullying. For bullies, it’s a fun thing to do and it’s funny for those who watch,” she said, adding that she even had to move schools due to the intolerable bullying.
Tracy, who went on to study Theology at Wycliffe hall in Oxford, said she rarely told her parents about the problems she experienced at school because whenever she brought it up, her family advised her not to fight back.
“My parents and grandparents said I shouldn’t,” she said. “But I have to admit, I wasn’t brave enough either. I was alone against so many people.”
Growing up, Tracy was one of the few Indonesian models who managed to break into the international market.
In 1994, at the age of 14, Tracy won the prestigious Elite Model Look International competition. She soon had the opportunity to strut her stuff on catwalks in New York, Paris and Milan.
However, she said that the highly competitive nature of the modeling business often triggers bullying among models.
“If they don’t like you, they will do anything they can to bring you down.”
Tracy recalled an incident where a fellow model actually dragged her out of her bed in the middle of the night while she was living in a shared apartment for models in New York City.
“I accidentally kicked her to defend myself and we were called in by the agency the following day because she reported it. But I won the case because I wasn’t guilty and later they found out that she was drunk at the time.”
Bullying, Tracy added, is not always physical but also psychological.
“It is like when everyone in the apartment ignores you and pretends they don’t understand your questions and laughs at you. That’s really mean,” she said.
Tracy said that most bullies use such tactics as a tool to exert authority and power over others.
“What’s interesting is that someone who was once bullied often goes on to bully others,” she said. “The chain has to be broken in order to stop this from going on.”
As one of the “Stop Bullying” campaigners, Tracy is optimistic that the program will raise social awareness of the problem, especially among students.
“Personal testimony is a powerful tool for this campaign,” she said. “It takes time to change people’s mindsets, but the process has to start somewhere.”