Woman bullies dubbed “Hagrid from Harry Potter” becomes TikTok star – Yahoo News

A TikTok star who has become a viral sensation and earns a living showing off the ‘lion mane’ hair she was bullied for as a child hopes to encourage others to be more confident in their own skin.
Kristina Bondarenko, 23, was cruelly called ‘Hagrid from Harry Potter’ by other school children because of her voluminous hair but has now learned to love it – and earns money posting haircare videos online.
The social media influencer, who lives in Istanbul, Turkey, now proudly shares curly hair tips with her 2.5 million followers on TikTok, and says comments from people who tell her she has helped them gain self-confidence spurs her to make more videos.
Calling herself LunaLu Rey on TikTok, Kristina said: “I started TikTok as a way to express my thoughts and feelings, and put them into something.
“It was an escape from reality but I fell in love with making videos.
“The positive comments I’ve had from people who watch my videos make me want to make more.”
Growing up, Kristina admits she did not like her hair and could not work out how to look after it.
She said: “I was bullied for my hair throughout my childhood – kids at school would call me Hagrid from Harry Potter.
“It had got curlier as I hit my teens and I didn’t know how to maintain it, which meant it was often very frizzy.”
I’m very proud of my curls now and I’m glad I’m encouraging others to be proud of theirs too. I love my hair.
Kristina Bondarenko
She added: “It wasn’t until I was about 19 that I started to actually like my hair.
“I learnt how to care for curly hair properly, not to brush it while dry and what products to use.
“I also started dying it ginger rather than my natural brown hair colour, and for the first time in my life, I felt like my hair looked nice.”
A talented pianist and singer, Kristina moved to the US aged 19 to study music at Glendale Community College in California.
But after graduating, she was not sure what she wanted to do next with her life.
To fill time and entertain herself, she started to make some TikTok videos in August 2020.
She said: “I was a bit lost with what I wanted to do with my life but I thought it would be fun to make some silly videos on there.
“To begin with, I made short, funny videos lip-syncing to popular sounds, and TikTok became a great place to just be myself.
“But it wasn’t until I posted a clip of me flipping my hair and it transitioning from curly to straight in October 2020 that my account exploded.”
She added: “The video went viral, getting two million views, and people were asking for more hair-related videos.”
Kristina was spurred by the hundreds of positive comments she received to do just that and says she decided to take her content seriously this year.
“The comments were all really nice and encouraging so I started making fun hairstyle tutorials for other people with curly hair,” she said.
And she was pleased she could help others.
“Some of my favourite comments have been things like, ‘After watching your videos and following you, I started to love my curly hair’ and I saw one that said, ‘I had cut my curly hair short because I hated it but now after seeing your videos, I’m growing it out again.’
“It feels really good to know you’re making a positive impact on someone else.”
Kristina loves the diversity of people on the platform and being part of that, saying: “So many different people are represented on the app, so many unique looking people that don’t all fit into the narrow beauty standard of society.
“Everyone has their own insecurities to overcome and if I can help other people with theirs, then I will be happy.
The hair videos she posts vary.
“Sometimes I post advice or tips, other times I’ll show people my hair care routine and different products that I use,” she explained.
“Sometimes I’m still surprised that people are interested in my advice and tips.
“I’m not a professional, I’m just showing people what I do with my own hair. All of my knowledge is from what I’ve learned on the internet over the years.”
She added: “But I think people like how realistic and easy it is to switch up your hairstyle or take proper care of your curls.”
And she is now very happy with her hair.
“I’m very proud of my curls now and I’m glad I’m encouraging others to be proud of theirs too. I love my hair.”
Follow Kristina on TikTok, here: www.tiktok.com/@lunalurey and her Instagram here: www.instagram.com/lunalu_rey
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