Even small-screen starlets aren't exempt from bullying. That's the message actress Keke Palmer plans to take to New York's Times Square Friday as she leads hundreds of girls and their mothers in kicking off the 3rd Annual Dove Self-Esteem Weekend, a rally to raise awareness about the issues facing young girls today.
"Just as many people that love me, hate me too. I get really mean, mean, mean, mean comments on Twitter and it just comes with the territory," Palmer told The Huffington Post, adding that, despite her celebrity status and surplus of compliments on her beauty, she often has to keep her self-esteem in check.
"Even though I'm in the industry and I act and all this stuff, I still suffer from self-esteem issues ... from the way that I look or the way that I talk ... just nitpicking at myself" she said, adding that she'd like to use events like this one to help her peers "find healthier ways to have a relationship with beauty and not to have so much anxiety about living up to other people's expectations."
According to research conducted for Dove's self-esteem event, a mere 11 percent of girls are comfortable using the word "beautiful" to describe themselves, and more than 60 percent of girls avoid normal daily activities when they feel insecure about their looks.
Palmer's ongoing struggle against attacks on her self-esteem are familiar to her 900,000-plus Twitter followers. The actress recently took to her social media accounts to set the record straight on how she'd like to be treated. "Being a celebrity does not mean you have clear ground to just disrespect me. Don't say stupid things just because you THINK you know me, I'm still a STRANGER," she wrote.
Now, though, she said she's modifying her approach to Twitter hate.
"In the past I've sometimes responded back and more so now I'm trying my best to not ever respond ever again because I feel like those people that do that don't deserve the attention," she said. "I feel like you should use social media for good things, for upcoming events and also if there's something on your heart that you want to get out."
Last month, Palmer posted a photo encouraging her followers to get out and vote, for instance. And earlier this year, she took to Twitter to address the apparent suicide of 17-year-old Ashley Duncan, urging other teens to steer clear of drugs, which can lead to depression, and to speak up about issues they're having.
"Social media has helped people to speak up on things that they wouldn't necessarily speak up on," Palmer said.
Another way Palmer says people can use social media for good is simply to pay attention. "I feel like people don't pay attention. I put on my page a while ago about a young girl who had killed herself, but she had been putting up the signs for a time. I know a lot of people think somebody is just being dramatic, but even if they are, that's not something you play with, you still show that you care, you still try to make some time or effort to help them," she said. "It's a bad thing that they feel that way, but it gives you enough time to be able to say 'Hey! What's going on?'"
Offline, Palmer is finding the time to put one of her favorite quotes to use. "Giving back, doing motivational speeches and stuff like that, that's always made me feel good," she said. "If you repeatedly go out there and 'you are the change that you want to see,' then that's what you are."
And when she isn't doing that, here's what's on Palmer's to-do list:
Working on ... A new music project
Reading ... The last "50 Shades of Grey" book
Watching ... "I Survived," "Dateline," and "Women Behind Bars"
Listening to ... Rihanna, Usher, Gotye
Browsing ... Tiffany + Co., NastyGal.com
Wishing for... I don't wish for anything. Wishing for a million dollars feels greedy. I just wish for the best for me.