"Kids Would Make Fun of Me for Being Asian": Joanna Gaines on Bullying

Updated 02/22/18
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We love Joanna Gaines for her eye for antiques and unique grasp on the modern farmhouse aesthetic. But the Fixer Upper designer's vulnerable interview with Darling Magazine makes us love her simply as a person and parent. The mother of four spoke candidly about her struggle with confidence and self-acceptance growing up, adding that these difficult childhood experiences ultimately made her a better parent.

"My mom is full Korean and my dad is Caucasian. Kids in kindergarten would make fun of me for being Asian and when you're that age you don't know really how to process that; the way you take that is, 'Who I am isn't good enough,'" she told the magazine. "My sophomore year, I was the new kid at a high school in Texas and I had never been a part of a school that big. I literally walked in the lunchroom and walked out and went into the bathroom. My fear and my insecurities just took over and I felt like I'd way rather sit in the stall than get rejected."

Despite the negative nature of these experiences, Gaines managed to extract the positive life lessons and ultimately allowed them to inform her parenting strategy. "I always tell my kids to look for that kid on the playground who's not playing with anybody, to go reach out, ask them their name, to look for the kid in the lunchroom who isn't sitting by anybody, be their friend," she adds. "I think when you come from a place like that, even though it was only six months for me, there's always that place of humility you never want to forget, and that experience grounded me in that I want to look for the lonely, the sad, the people who aren't confident, because that's not where they're supposed to stay."

Gaines's experience with bullying also helped her to identify her greater life purpose. "So I now, as a 37-year-old woman, am thankful for that pain and confusion and loneliness [in high school] because I feel like that gives me a heart for what it is I do now," she concludes. "I discovered that my purpose was to help people who are insecure because I didn't like the way it made me feel, in that stall; that's not who I am."

Head over to Darling Magazine for the full interview.

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