TV show helps girl confront bullies

Kirsten Buchanan

Director of the documentary “Bully” visits RBHS during True/False Film Festival. Subjects from the documentary hosted a Q&A session in the PAC after a screening of the movie during school hours. Photo by Sonya Francis

When people looked at Cassandra Bankson’s face, the first thing they noticed was her acne. Spread out over her face, the pimples captured the attention of her peers, causing Bankson to endure a childhood filled with teasing.
Bankson recalls people throwing quarters at her during bus rides, countless taunts about her face and even a girl who stole her hair clips. As a result, she found herself questioning her worth at a young age.
My life “was the constant feeling that regardless of what [I] achieved, it would never be good enough for my critics,” Bankson said in an email interview. “I was constantly… having to pretend that the words kids said didn’t hurt me. It became so unbearable that I eventually switched schools.”
According to MSNBC, one in six high school kids are regularly bullied. At RBHS, that means around 300 teens suffer torments and teasing every day like Bankson.
After Bankson surrounded herself with new peers and found makeup that helped reduce and cover up her acne, Bankson felt her life beginning to improve. She began modeling and making YouTube videos. However, she felt she hadn’t gained closure with the bullies of her past.
Bankson appeared on The Anderson Cooper Show in February as part of a special on bullying. There, she was able to confront her bullies and felt she could finally move on with her life. Now, she spends her time trying to end bullying using videos she posts to her YouTube account, Diamondandheels14. With over 18 million views, she hopes her channel can inspire other children and teens trying to overcome bullying.
“If bullying has made you insecure about yourself, find other things to be proud of,” Bankson said. “Find something you love about your eyes, smile or anything else that is wonderful about you. I would compliment myself on the little things, like my eyes or having a pretty smile, and started talking about my problems with others. [That] really helped me overcome it.”
Read a story about cyberbullying here and a recording of a Q&A with the directors and subjects of the documentary “Bully” below.
By Kirsten Buchanan