Reality star Joanna Gaines has decided that it’s time to tell her story.
While she has had success with her husband Chip on the hit series “Fixer Upper”, Gaines recently opened up about her past, one that’s haunted her.
In her new memoir “The Stories We Tell,” the interior designer shares with her fans her experience of growing up half Korean and half white and being bullied because of her heritage.
“We were literally the only Asians in our entire school,” Gaines recalled in an interview with People.
While in school, Gaines remembers being called names and teased for eating rice in the cafeteria during lunch.
“It was deeply personal because that was half of my story,” she shared. “I realized if this isn’t accepted, maybe I need to hide it and play more into the other side of who I am.”
Gaines opened up about how she processed the bullying at a young age.
“I felt like I was processing all of this alone, which now as a 44-year-old woman, I’ve realized that you’ve got to say this stuff out loud”, she said in an interview with Hoda Kotb on the Today Show.
“You’ve got to rewrite those lies with truths. So getting to go back to those moments even in this book, I kept writing towards the six-year-old you see on the cover,” Gaines explained as she pointed towards a young photo of herself.
After the interview, Gaines was met by many supportive fans. “Thank you for doing what you do Joanna. Proof anyone who feels ‘different’ can make it,” said one fan on YouTube. “Joanna didn’t have to choose to share these struggles, but it’s so profound, beautiful and helpful that she did,” said another.
As Gaines reflected on her past trauma, she told People that it wasn’t until an internship for college in New York City that she adopted a new outlook.
“I saw more people that looked like me than ever before,” she said. “I left really understanding the beauty and uniqueness of Korean culture and for the first time I felt whole, like this is fully who I am and I’m proud of it.”
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When looking to the future, Gaines has a positive outlook.
“I’m 44 years old, and so say I have another 44 years to go, I want to live it lighter,” she shared. “I want to live more freely. Just be grounded in who I am, what I believe I’m here for.”
Gaines also shared how she hopes others are inspired by her story.
“I feel thankful for the process,” she told People. “In the beginning, I never thought I would share this with anyone. But then when I realized in that vulnerability, when you do share your story, if it inspires one other person to write their story down so that they can see that clarity and purpose in their own life, it’s worth it.”
To learn more about Gaines and her story, her memoir “The Stories We Tell” is now available for purchase.