Carmen Rasmusen Herbert: Jennifer Livingston and taking advice from a big red dog

Published: Monday, Oct. 8 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

I was incredibly happy that I had clear skin. I felt much more confident about myself.

But it shouldn’t be that way. We shouldn’t have to wait until we have beautiful skin, skinny bodies, longer hair or a more feminine or toned figure until we feel good about ourselves. Confidence should come from knowing who we are and loving ourselves in every circumstance.

That’s maybe what I love most about Jennifer Livingston. She has proved she’s not waiting. She is tackling what she thinks is an important issue and shoving it right back in the face of every critic, of every mean person, of everyone who feels the need to judge and saying, “You can’t bring me down.”

She is proof that bullying doesn’t stop with junior high. In fact, sometimes it gets worse the older we get.

After appearing on “American Idol” and receiving hundreds of harsh reviews, hate mail, negative and hurtful comments online, in chat rooms and during interviews, I concluded that all these negative voices must be telling the truth: I couldn’t sing. So I quit. I stopped doing what I loved the very most. I wouldn’t share my talent, because I truly believed I had none.

It took several years and finally getting to a point where I said, “I have had every possible bad thing said about me. I guess it can’t get any worse,” to turn things around.

The moment I stopped caring is the moment everyone else did, too. Their words lost their power. I grew in my confidence and ability. I loved my voice again.

So where do you start? Start with loving yourself. Love your family, your friends and your neighbors. It just takes one positive example to change others' perspectives and attitudes. Oftentimes we don’t realize that for every negative person, there are a hundred supporters ready to stand up and shout encouragement.

As Jennifer Livingston concluded:

"Do not let your self-worth be defined by bullies. Learn from my experience that the cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many."

Jennifer Livingston is living “Clifford’s Big Idea” to believe in herself.

Pretty sage advice, even if it is from a big red dog.

Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News.

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