Love her or hate her, almost everyone recognizes the name of Lele Pons. The 23-year-old social media influencer has rocketed to fame in the past few years, first getting her start on now-defunct platform, Vine.

Pons was one of Vine’s biggest stars

Pons began her meteoric rise in the social media sphere on Vine before the platform closed down in 2017. The then-teenaged-star became the first ever Vine content producer to surpass one billion loops on her videos. Pons also made famous the phrase, “do it for the Vine,” a phrase which now elicits groans and eyerolls from parents whose teenagers found endless trouble by following the phrase down the path to Vine stardom by doing wild stunts. Pons herself often fell or injured herself in the Vines that went viral. The young influencer said, “People would not believe that I was the one getting hurt in my Vines.”

The social media superstar branched out to other platforms

After establishing herself on Vine, Pons then began producing content on both YouTube and Instagram. On YouTube, the 23-year-old boasts 16.7 million subscribers. on Instagram, Pons has 41.4 million followers. With such a massive internet presence, fame has brought things less pleasant than followers to Pons’s life.

Pons speaks out about bullying she has experienced

In early 2020, Pons started a docuseries on YouTube discussing her life and experience as a social media influencer. The Secret Life of Lele Pons explores some of the struggles the young star has experienced both during her life in general, and since achieving mega-stardom.

Pons also discusses her mental health struggles with OCD, and her difficulties living with Tourette’s. Pons says that living with OCD has made the online bullying she deals with even harder to cope with, because she can’t just look away or refuse to read them. In the comments, people insult every aspect of the young star’s life, from her appearance to her ethnicity.

One of her greatest struggles is with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

According to the National Institute for Mental health, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is, “a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.” Pons says this makes it hard for her to move on from critical comments left on her videos, replaying them over and over in her head.

Pons can’t help but read the comments, even the negative ones that devastate her

The influencer says she can’t help but read them; “It’s already bad enough having bad comments, but having OCD to actually make you check and just don’t move, kind of not move on from what’s going on. It’s just annoying because it’s always the same comments. I’m not talented enough, I’m not funny, I’m not pretty, I’m not this, I’m not that, I’m whatever. Everything I do, I use being a Latina as a popularity or something. I don’t like that people hate on me for being proud of being who I am. Why is it so bad for me to love being who I am? And love being Latina? The only thing my parents taught me was never to forget who you are and where you come from. And people are now making that a joke, and they just don’t understand that it hurts! What’s happening here is that people are making hating me cool. It’s hard. It’s so hard, because I’m so tired of whatever I do, it can be 10 years go by and I do everything right, but there’s always going to be people that are just gonna be so mean to me for no reason.”

The 23-year-old struggles with Tourette’s Syndrome as well

Tourette’s is defined by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke as, “a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. The disorder is named for Dr. Georges Gilles de la Tourette, the pioneering French neurologist who in 1885 first described the condition in an 86-year-old French noblewoman.”

Pons deals with a lot, but keeps her dream alive

In her YouTube docuseries, Pons admits she has struggled with depression and suicidal ideation. “Let me tell you something, I’ve had suicidal thoughts because I can’t take it, I can’t take the hate. The thing is, when you have so many comments, you start also believing them, and then you start questioning yourself if you are worthy even of living, you know?…  …At the end of the day, I get better and I have achieved what I want, and I’m still achieving what I want…I go through s**t, but I’m so strong and I want to be strong for [the fans].”

Driven to help others overcome their secret struggles

All of these challenges have led Pons to the desire to help her followers. In her podcast Best Kept Secret of Lele Pons, the young star encourages people to call in and anonymously unburden themselves of secrets that are troubling them. Because people call in anonymously, Pons says people feel more open to sharing. Even though she is not a therapist, Pons offers a listening ear and supportive suggestions to help whatever her listeners might be struggling with.

Pons’s Best Kept Secrets podcast will premier on Spotify on August 19th, dropping new episodes every Wednesday.

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