NEW YORK (Reuters) - Teen idol Miley Cyrus has a message for Internet critics calling her fat -- cyber-bullying can seriously scar people, leading them to hurt themselves.
Cyrus, 16, who plays schoolgirl rock star Hannah Montana in the hit Disney series and movie, posted an angry tirade on her Twitter web page following a flurry of criticism about her weight after she joked about her thighs jiggling.
"Talk all you want. I have my flaws. I'm a normal girl there's things about my body I would change, but stop calling me f*t in post," she wrote.
"I don't even like the word. Those remarks that you hateful people use are fighting words, the ones that scar people and cause them to do damage to themselves or others."
Research by the Anti-Defamation League found as many as half of U.S. teenagers are affected by cyber-bullying, whether through emails, instant messaging, cellphones, texting or websites, with the anonymity of electronic media emboldening bullies.
Cyber-bullying can be so emotionally devastating that it has led to suicides, prompting 37 U.S. states over the past 10 years to adopt legislation mandating that schools implement anti-bullying statutes.
Cyrus said people spending too much time on gossip websites should read their Bible and also stories or articles about the consequences of cyber-abuse and name calling.
"Kids hurt themselves. This is not something to be taken lightly," she wrote.
Cyrus, the daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, has become one of the biggest teen idols in the world since landing a role in 2006 in the Disney Channel's "Hannah Montana" sitcom about a teenage girl with a secret identity as a rock star.
Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Miral Fahmy