Back in June of 2018, Kelly Marie Tran made the decision to step away from social media, and anything to do with online. In 2017, she was the victim of online bullying, harassment, racism, and misogyny. It all began when she was cast in "Star Wars: The Last Jedi." The bullying picked up in intensity after the movie was released. She was the victim of racism on Twitter, she was relentlessly mocked for her weight, and someone actually re-wrote her bio on Wookieepedia to include racist and more vulgar comments.
She left Instagram in 2018, but left behind 5 powerful words: "Afraid, but doing it anyway." A writer from website Salon stated that the bigotry Kelly Marie Tran endured came from privileged white men who were afraid of a strong female character. The writer wondered if Tran would have received as much backlash, had she stayed within Asian female stereotypes (in movies, Asian women have been portrayed as being seductive and submissive), and not played Rose Tico.
The relentless bullying took a toll on Kelly Marie Tran's mental health. She found herself believing the hateful remarks made about her. Tran wrote about all of this in a NYT article called "Kelly Marie Tran: I Won't Be Marginalized by Online Harassment."
"Their words reinforced a narrative I had heard my whole life: that I was 'other', that I didn't belong, that I wasn't good enough, simply because I wasn't like them. And that feeling, I realize now, was, and is, shame, a shame for the things that made me different, a shame for the culture from which I came from. You might know me as Kelly. I am the first woman of color to have a leading role in a Star Wars movie. I am the first Asian woman to appear on the cover of Vanity Fair. My real name is Loan. And I am just getting started."
Fast forward to 2021, and Tran is speaking about how the bullying shaped who she is now.
She has been in therapy since the bullying started in 2017, and she spoke to "Vulture" about her experience:
"We can talk about the interaction between mental health and social media, but also mental health and this idea of fame and what it does to you. It is not normal. For me, that navigation is about how I protect myself in a way where I can continue to work in this world, and continue to lift the stories that I feel like the world needs to hear. It felt like I was just hearing the voice of my agents and my publicity team and all of these people telling me what to say and what to do and how to feel. And I realized I didn’t know how I felt anymore. And I didn’t remember why I was in this in the first place. Any time that happens, I have to close up shop and go away for a while and really interact in the real world — read books and journal and go on hikes and look at a tree and remind myself that there was a fire that burned inside of me before Star Wars, before any of this."
She mentioned that she is "so much happier" without the internet. Her agents have been pushing her to return online. They say she is "forgoing brand partnerships." Kelly Marie Tran responded to them with: "I'm not here to sell flat-tummy teas to young girls."
You tell em!
I will never know the depths of what Kelly Marie Tran went through, but I've been the victim of online bullying as well. Recently, I had to delete my YouTube channel and suspend my Podcast because I had dozens of messages from people telling me I was fugly, I had a stuttering problem, and that I needed to kill myself. I wasn't saying anything bad on either platform.
I also dealt with low-key bullying on my personal social media profiles, from people I know offline. I was pretty overwhelmed, and I was thirsty for my own quiet and solitude. I no longer post on my personal social media accounts anymore. They are still active because they are attached to this website's social media profiles. Getting rid of my personal pages would mean getting rid of my website's profiles. It's a tough situation, but I'm making it work.
Not having personal social media profiles is pretty nice. You get to work on yourself, read more, write more, do more art, spend time with nature, and just connect to the environment around you. I can feel Tran's energy when I read about her current life. It's an earthy energy, grounded, and incredibly strong. I love it!
No matter what happens, and no matter how many roadblocks social media platforms try to enforce, bullying will exist (they always find ways to fly under the radar) What needs to be taught is tolerance, TRUE history of every culture (not the white-washed history), respect, and love. That starts with parents.
I didn't have the best upbringing with my mom. She wasn't nice to me for the most part. The one thing she did 100% right, was expose me to various cultures, and teach me tolerance. That's a lesson I am currently passing onto the next generation.
As for Kelly Marie Tran, she is the epitome of strength. People may think she "ran away" and she's "in hiding." She isn't. She ran to herself and her own happiness. She's a rockstar!
I can't wait to see her new movie, "Raya and the Last Dragon."