I remember in High School we had the option to either write a research paper or perform a social experiment and write about it. Unlike most all my peers, I chose the latter. For my social experiment, I broke the norm of wearing shoes. Not that offensive but I figured people would take notice. The only person I would be hurting is myself since my bare feet would pick up all the residue from their shoes. All day people were surprisingly cruel to me. People shouted insults like: “disgusting” “dirty” “nasty” “grimy” which were to be expected but as the day progressed the insults got more personal: “dirty whore” “grotty slut” “I always knew you liked it dirty”, etc.
That day I went home and cried.
Not because of the insults or words they shouted at me. I have always been a very strong person and have always had a staunch “long hair don’t care” approach to bullies (a successful anti-bully repellent), but I thought to myself: “how terrible must this be for people who aren’t as strong or don’t know how to cope with this”. I wept for them.
Nowadays bullies do not have to be as bold, brave or labeled as such; they can hide behind an anonymous account online. Bullying has become more prevalent in recent years since the boom in social media and cyber presence in our lives. It seems now every one has an Instagram, Facebook, Blog, YouTube channel, and Tumblr. While social media is every models’ best friend with benefits of exposure and instant gratification, its a double edged sword that cuts both ways. Most of the time people are supportive, positive and happy of your success; many times people can be quite hateful and cruel.
So, here are some effective ways to respond to haters and stand-up against bullying that will ensure you neither bottle it up nor become one yourself:
1. Do not respond. Seems too simple right? That’s because it is. This option is the best in most cases since it requires zero effort on your part. Bullies/haters often make hateful comments to get a rise out of you or get attention themselves. “Bad publicity is still publicity” is their motto. But its not yours. Don’t acknowledge their existence or their efforts to harass. Not only will they likely stop since you are not giving them the attention they crave, but it sends the message that they are such a waste of your time and energy, that you don’t even bother/care. Let’s let Karma handle it from here!2. Do not perpetuate. Gossip is fun. Unfortunately gossip is a weapon. Rumors start from misconceptions about gossip or intentionally to hurt someone. Studies have found that when we point out flaws in others, it is our way of projecting our insecurities or our own flaws onto others. So, if you fuel the rumor-mill, what insecurities are you projecting? Petty is not a good color on anyone. Confidence is the best color you can wear and if talking bad about others means you’re insecure, you need to not engage in gossip in order to look your best! Its science! 3. Bully-shame. “There are certain shades of limelight that can wreck a girls complexion” –Holly Golightly Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Shine that limelight on them folks! Friends, fans, and hater-police will bully-shame that person into hiding. I am not one for shaming, but I do think a haters intent is to get attention and to shame. And I am not one to stand in their way of getting both of those things. Nothing vexes them more than getting exactly what they deserve. Post something in response like: “what do you think guys (fans) do I look fat in this photo”? or “whatever helps you sleep at night” or “we are all entitled to our opinions…even if they are wrong ;)”. 4. Leave the comment/post. This one may be my favorite. It takes a strong person not to delete the comment or automatically respond fumed. Take a breath and leave it. Allow the public forum to handle the situation. Not only is this incorporating multiple healthy response methods such as “do not respond” and “bully shame”, but it only makes you look good. Deleting the comment will only show them they got to you. People are entitled to their opinions and when you are putting yourself out there in the public sphere, you pose the risk of people not liking what you do. Even if you live a 100% pure and positive outlook, someone will hate it. 5. Vent. This response method, if used properly, can incorporate all the above. Use your social media platform for good. Blog, post, or tweet about it. DO NOT NAME NAMES. Let your fans/friends read into your cryptic message however they want. Every one can relate to the message since we all went to High School and remember how awful it was. Do not give them the attention, just leave it there in cyber space and write a blog addressing bullies/haters in general. Say something like “certain people hate on what I do and that’s okay because it makes me happy and that’s all that matters”. This way you are relate-able, real, positive and can maybe help someone else who is struggling along the way.
Just remember all good ideas are never adopted as popular opinion at first–that’s what makes them different, unique and inspires change. So, if you have haters, that means you are on the cutting-edge. Embrace your haters and give them something to hate: fabulousness without a scratch. Stay strong and classy and nothing can touch you.
xo Tina Bell