People often forget that celebrities have to deal with the scrutiny over every aspect of their lives due to being in the public eye. It can be a lot to handle, especially for those who grow up in the spotlight. Brandy hit the scene at the young age of 12 and by the age of 14, was a platinum-selling artist. She became a teen icon, viewed as a girl next door. She had hit records, starred on her own television showand has millions of fans around the world. But being in the limelight added to an already negative self-image for the singer, as she was bullied for much of her youth. She later overcame her issues with self-esteem but has always remembered the hurt she felt from someone who told her that she was no drop-dead gorgeous.
Brandy may have risen to superstar status rather quickly, but her life before fame was anything similar. In fact, there was nothing popular about the singer during her childhood. Talent aside, she had little friends due to a combination of jealousy and the cruelness most kids deal with from their peers.
Already a timid child, Brandy developed severe self-esteem issues. Looking at celebrities on television and in magazines, she felt that no one looked like her. Brandy was extremely self-critical of her looks. She believed her eyes were too far apart and her hair was not straight enough, which fueled an obsession with her trying to look perfect.
Her image of self worsened in school. Because of her talent, her peers felt that she was too forward and cocky. Her cousin Portia recalled in her VH1 special, Driven, “Brandy didn’t have any friends.”
In an interview with NBC News, Brandy spoke about how she used her dreams of being a singer to get her through tough times. “I was bullied as a kid and I didn’t really have the look going for me,” she explained. “Singing was all I had and singing was the one thing I believed I could do.”
The bullying Brandy experienced during her childhood extended far beyond her peers. In fact, she was dealt a tough blow from a guidance counselor while attending Hollywood High Performing Arts Center.
As a freshman at Hollywood High, Brandy became curious as to why the counselor was not sending her out on auditions for gigs. She recalled her experience in a 1998 interview with People Magazine. “One day I asked, ‘Why aren’t you sending me out on calls?’ and she said, ‘Because you’re not drop-dead gorgeous,’ Brandy claimed. “My heart just dropped.”
The incident was elaborated on in Bandy’s episode of the VH1 special, Driven. The guidance counselor, Ms. Carolyn Demirjian, admitted to telling Brandy that her looks were not up to par for certain roles.
“We get calls all the time, from casting directors and agents because they know we have the talent pool,” Demirjian explained. “This one call happened to be for a drop-dead gorgeous black girl a la Vanessa Williams.”
When Brandy discovered she was not sent on the call, she asked Demirijan for an explanation and was not prepared for her response. “I said you’re cute, but you’re not Vanessa Williams drop-dead gorgeous,” Demirjian proclaimed.
Brandy’s mother was not pleased with Demirijan’s handling of her daughter and removed her from the school. She also tried to reinforce to Brandy that there was something unique about her.
Clearly, someone thought Brandy was beautiful as she became a spokesperson for Covergirl cosmetics, the first African-American singer to land a contract. She also was listed as one of People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People in 1996. Mattel created several Brandy Barbie dolls after the songstress. It goes to show that not everyone’s opinion is valid!