‘Call Her Daddy’ host Alex Cooper on how 'hot chick' persona was built off being bullied: 'For a while I had to fake confidence'

·5 min read

Alex Cooper is preaching a "fake it till you make it" mentality when it comes to confidence, sharing in a recent interview that experiencing bullying and low self-esteem in her past has propelled her path into the spotlight.

"When I was younger, I was so invested in having an outlet because I was severely bullied. My escape was going into my basement and picking up a movie camera and producing a music video or a short film. I found a lot of comfort in being able to express myself and feeling not judged," the host and producer of the Call Her Daddy podcast told the New York Times Magazine. "Creating content has always been a form of self-expression that has made me feel seen, that made me feel I am worthy and have something to show that I’m good at."

Alex Cooper on childhood bullying and finding confidence. (Photo: Sarah Krick)
Alex Cooper on childhood bullying and finding confidence. (Photo: Sarah Krick)

While the 27-year-old's content was previously seen as highly salacious as she got her start at Barstool Sports, Cooper explained that there's been a big shift in the podcast episodes that she creates with Spotify today.

"It frustrates me when people try to pigeonhole me like, Oh, it's just that sex show," she said. "I feel that sometimes people don't want to acknowledge the show's success: It must have been because of her looks or the salacious content. No. It continues to be one of the biggest shows in the world, and it's not because I stumbled upon something."

In a previous interview with Yahoo Life, Cooper noted a newfound focus on mental health and described it as a "taboo" topic similar to that of sex. But as she opens up about going to therapy and struggling with body image, mental health and even confidence on the podcast, she told New York Times Magazine that she's set on empowering listeners and possibly healing personal wounds — one in which she alluded to included inappropriate behavior from her college soccer coach that led her to maintain a full scholarship while not playing on the team senior year.

"I got something I worked my entire life for stripped away because someone in a position of power couldn't control themself. And I did nothing wrong. So what I took was the motivation of feeling like no one will ever again take something away from me just because they're title-wise above me. That ignited something in me," she explained. "I felt, you know what, I'm going to exude the confidence that I know I have in myself, and this is not going to derail my goals. If anything it's going to propel me to be like 'eff you' and watch me now succeed. I was trying to embody that in Call Her Daddy: Be confident in yourself, and you don't need to be in a position where you feel uncomfortable."

Even earlier than that, Cooper had a complicated relationship with her looks as a result of being bullied in school. She admitted to placing a lot of significance on her popularity and attractiveness after feeling left out.

"Those things have stuck with me. The dynamic of knowing I was a good kid, got a great personality, so why is it all about my looks that I'm getting bullied for? That hyperfocused me on wanting to understand, what if I did look a different way? Then would people like me?" she recalled thinking. "Through therapy, I've recognized that's not healthy. There's a part of me that now values how I've taken that experience and turned it into something positive. If you understand that I did experience that in my childhood, then these undertones of rooting for the underdog and not taking [expletive] and trying to empower myself — you can feel them in my show. That's when other women are like, I want to be like that, too. I've got a lot of people that are feeling empowered from this and find the courage to do things because of me and vice versa."

In a previous episode of her podcast, Cooper explained that her acne as a teen had been "debilitating" and even led her to skip school if she was having a bad breakout. As she grew older, she focused on not only her appearance but also on embracing a confident mindset to alleviate some of that anxiety.

"When I got my braces off, got on Accutane, slapped some hair dye on and I started playing soccer and growing muscle — I was the same human inside, and yet all of a sudden people started treating me differently because I was a hot chick. I felt like, Wow, that's all it took? I still feel like the little ugly awkward girl in middle school," she said. "For a while I had to fake confidence and convince myself I was confident when I wasn't."

Now, with her platform, she hopes to pass that along to listeners.

"Knowing I've gone through that in my life, I can teach other women to fake it till you make it," she said. "Eventually one day you're going to wake up and be like, I do actually feel confident because I've been faking for so freaking long, so let's go!"

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