With her fifth child on the way, Fixer Upper star Joanna Gaines is opening up about her own childhood and the horrible bullying that made her who she is today. In a new interview with Darling magazine, Joanna discussed what life was like before she was one of America's most beloved HGTV stars, before the days of Magnolia Market, and of course, before husband Chip was in the picture. And like any child who has dealt with bullying, it was hard.
"I don't think confidence has ever really been one of those things that came naturally for me," she told the magazine back in 2016. "If people thought I was confident, it was really just the way I masked my insecurity, because I didn't want people to really get to know the real me. If you haven't heard my story, 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.'"
The trouble continued through her adolescent years. When she moved to a new high school in Texas, the feelings of insecurity persisted. "I literally walked in the lunchroom and walked out and went into the bathroom," she recalled. "My fear and my insecurities just took over and I felt like I'd way rather sit in the stall than get rejected." Those experiences for Joanna, although incredibly difficult at the time, shaped her as a mother and as a person today. "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. And so I knew that from that place of pain there was going to be a place to reach others, because I had actually lived in that place; I had felt that pain myself."
Joanna is raising her children to be the kids in the lunchroom and playground who make that lonely child feel a little less alone. She has been that kid before and doesn't want any child to feel that way.
"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," Joanna shared. "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."
She added that now she is "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." And boy, is that heart big!