Up close with “That Girl in Pink”

Benni Cinckle is using her creativity, experiences with bullying, and the exposure she gained through Rebecca Black’s “Friday” video to help teens.

Have you ever been bullied for no apparent reason? Benni Cinkle can relate.

A 15-year-old high school student, Benni knows exactly what it’s like to be bullied.

After starring in Rebecca Black’s “Friday” video, which made its online debut in September of 2011, she got an overwhelming number of negative comments.

YouTube users posted things like, “This is so horrendously awful I’m literally in a state of shock,” and “I hope she’s embarrassed to go back to school!”

“I didn’t expect it to be so violent and so much of it,” Benni told me and LSY! founder Tim O’Shei. “We’re kids, it was just a fun video.”

But the way Benni handled the hate was smart: She responded with humor, which totally disarmed people. In fact, when people started calling her ‘that girl in pink who’s dancing awkwardly,’ she borrowed the description. Today, Benni has a nonprofit organization called That Girl in Pink. (More on that in a moment.)

We asked Benni about the pros and cons of being in a video that’s gone viral.

“I think a pro is that you get that exposure to the public eye, but then at the same time the con is that you get that exposure to the public eye,” she said. “There’s always going to be those people who hate you for no reason except for doing that one little thing. That can drive some people crazy and that can really affect people. Videos should only go viral if the person who’s in the video can accept the fact that there’s going to be hate…”

“There’s hate on everything.”

Benni not only did a good job of accepting the negativity, but she turned it into something positive.

Shortly after appearing in the video, she received a Facebook message that said, “You got your 15 minutes of fame, but what are you doing to help Japan?” (Japan, if you remember, was recovering from a tsunami.)

She thought, “What an odd thing to put together. But at the same time, what can I do?”

She started a flash mob for Japan and then started her own website for donations. Then, with the help of her mom, she started her own nonprofit organization- That Girl in Pink. Not many 15-year-olds can add these things to their list of accomplishments!

She has also made it her goal to donate to many causes, like the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, which grants 91 cents of every dollar donated to actual research of the disease.

“If I’m going to support a charity, I want to support one that’s actually going to do something about it,” Benni said, explaining that C.F. also caught her heart because the disease has a dramatic affect on children.

In order to tell students her story, she is starting to make presentations in schools across the country. She also recorded her own song, titled “Can You See Me Now.” She wants everyone to believe “they have a voice and they have the power to be who they want to be no matter what they’re going through.”

Benni has definitely inspired everyone around her with her determination and never ending generosity.

And for those who are struggling, Benni said, “The thing I stress the most is to talk to an adult. A lot of times when kids internalize a problem, it seems so much bigger but when they let it out, it seems like such a small problem.”

In the end, Benni is grateful for her decision to be in the video. She mentioned, “I’ll be walking somewhere or going to an interview and I’ll be thinking, ‘If I had decided not to be in that video, I wouldn’t be here right now. I would be up in my room doing homework.’ That little decision affected everything.”

Benni, now a very mature and confident high school sophomore, said, “I’m proud to say that I have this past and this is who I am. I went through that, but I turned it around and now it’s something great.”

— Taylor Speer
LSY! teen reporter
Mount St. Mary Academy 

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