HOW I DEAL WITH BODY-SHAMING (+ why I always reply to hateful comments)
A few months ago, I wrote a post about skinny-shaming. In that post, I went over some thoughts on skinny-shaming, and basically expressed how I think it sucks that in our society, calling someone fat is considered horrible, but making fun of someone for being “too skinny” is perfectly acceptable.
I won’t go over this for too long in this post, because I don’t want to repeat myself… But if you’re interested, I would highly recommend you read the original post first and then come back to this one.
Now you might be asking yourself why I’m writing another post on body-shaming, right? Well, I’ve been wanting to write this post for a few weeks now. You see, I have a fairly small (actually tiny) Instagram accounts, with about 2k followers, but once in a while, a specific picture will blow up and get up to 1000 likes. A few weeks back, that happened with a bikini picture. I posted it at night, went to bed, and woke up to a bunch of super nasty comments about my body.
Comments like “Gross, way to skinny not healthy” (great spelling), “Give that girl some food please!!!” and, my all-time favourite “Anorexia is not trendy”. Like, OK, thanks I guess? Ha! Just for the record, I didn’t remember any of these comments, I had to go back and look at them for the sake of this post.
What really surprised me though, is not the actual comments. It’s the fact that they weren’t from teenagers, but rather all from men wayyy more than old enough to be my father - some even my grandfather. And while it sucks that some teenagers don’t have anything better to do than write hate comments on the internet, in a way it’s kind of understandable.
When you’re growing up, you don’t have yet the maturity or the emotional intelligence to understand that sometimes, it’s way better to shut up than say stupid shit. You don’t know yet how to express yourself with diplomacy, and you sometimes have a hard time getting some feelings out, like jealousy and insecurity. So instead of doing some introspection and bettering your 15yr old self, you go to someone’s Instagram picture and you write “Ew, gross. You ugly.” It’s not excusable, but as I said, it’s kind of understandable. That’s why society relies on good parents, good teachers, and good role-models to teach children to be decent people. So even though I’ve never personally received any hate comments from someone younger than me, I feel like if I did, I’d try to respond kindly, just to show them that it’s possible to be kind and teach them a lesson.
But when someone who’s old enough that they should be teaching their children and grandchildren these values has nothing better to do with their evening than come to my Instagram profile and shame my body for the way it looks, I have absolutely no compassion. There’s no other way to describe that than sad and pathetic. And I know everyone has a different approach, but in my opinion, these people need to be publicly shamed and put back in their place.
And listen, I know what everyone thinks. I’ve been told countless times that no matter what I reply to them, they won’t care and they will keep doing it. As long as these losers can hide behind their computers and their phones, they will keep trolling and hating. I’ve been told that I’m wasting my time, an that I should put my energy somewhere else.
But I made a different choice. I made the choice of always responding to these hate comments. Not because it brings me relief, not because I care. Not because I want to change these people. I said it - and I’ll say it again - these comments don’t bother me at all. They actually make me laugh. It took me a long time to get here, but I’m actually in a place now where I love my body just the way it looks, and I feel comfortable in it. So I don’t care what anybody says, and getting hate comments on Instagram actually make me feel like I’ve made it somehow. Like my content is disruptive enough that someone would take time out of their day to let me know they don’t like it.
I like to take a page out of Samantha Jones’ (from SATC) book, when she says “First come the gays, then the girls, then… The Industry.” Except the 2018 version of that would be “First come the haters, then the supporters, then… The Industry.” This rings especially true in a world where Instagram numbers and engagement rule, and the number of comments you get on a pictures has an impact on how many people will see it. So I say “thank you, come again” to anyone who wants to leave a comment on one of my pictures and boost my engagement. I know they’re probably trying to hurt me or make me sad or angry, but really, they’re helping me out. Because of their hate, more people are seeing my content, and it’s getting me closer to paid brand deals, collaborations and just reaching my ideal audience.
So no, I don’t reply to hate comments for myself. I do it because I want to set an example. How? Let me backtrack a little. When I posted that bikini picture and woke up the next day to some of these comments shaming me for my body, I wasn’t sure if I should reply or ignore them. I feel like there’s no wrong or right way to answer when people come to your space to attack you. I feel like at that point, you can pretty much react in the way that makes YOU feel comfortable.
So that’s what I did. I was in a really good mood that day, so I decided I would reply to these comments. My responses went from bewildered amusement (laughing emojis) to “you’re gross, GTFO (peace sign emoji)” - in response to a comment calling me “gross”.
And then it got really interesting. Someone commented “She needs to eat”, to which I responded:
And you need to get a life so you have better things to do with yourself than put people down on Instagram. Btw, I love my body and I’m actually flattered that you’d take the time out of your day to boost my engagement on a post that you apparently don’t like. Good job (clapping emoji).
And then one of my followers commented that she wished she had my self-confidence, because she gets the same type of comments and it makes her feel embarrassed to go to the beach. And then she messaged me, saying that she loved reading my responses to haters, and that it inspired her to tell people to go f*ck themselves next time someone made fun of her, instead of just taking it and feeling bad about herself in silence. I was honestly so happy. It made my day. We messaged for a good part of the day, and then she told me that she actually had an illness that makes it impossible for her to gain weight, no matter what she eats. She thanked me many times, although, as I told her, I did nothing she needed to thank me for, really. And even though I needed to go back to be able to remember what the hate comments were, I still remember my conversation with her very well. Because that’s what matters to me.
And then other girls started messaging me. The messages I got expressed a variety of feelings from wanting to vent about being told “eat a burger” almost every day, to thanking me for inspiring them to keep their head up, to kind words of support from girls who were also shamed for being “too fat” or “too skinny”. My DMs were blowing-up, and I literally got more messages on that day than I usually get in a week.
Then and there, I knew I was onto something.
I decided I was going to keep going at it.
I was gonna keep posting pictures that show my body just the way it is.
Because I eat, I’m healthy, I’m active, I have a fast metabolism… And because “healthy” doesn’t mean being a specific weight. Healthy is different for everyone and looks different on every body. My visible ribs are healthy, just like someone’s fat rolls can be healthy.
I also decided I was gonna stop replying to haters, just to show other girls that it’s possible to keep your head high and tell people to f*ck off when they insult you, without letting it affect you.
And most importantly, I decided then and there that I was gonna do everything I can to promote body-positivity. I decided that I would keep telling other women that they are beautiful, no matter what their weight is, and no matter what they look like. I decided that I would make feeling confident in my own body a recurrent topic on my Instagram, my blog and every other social channel and outlet I have.
Because I truly believe that if you’re not happy and comfortable in your body, you can’t love yourself. And if you can’t love yourself, then you can’t love anyone else. And that’s the saddest thing, because loving relationships are the greatest thing in life. Loving relationships, with yourself and others, come before any material things, cool trips and evenings out at the most popular bars and restaurants. Loving relationships, with yourself and others, are what makes life special and worth living.
So for every person out there who spends their time trying to make women (and men) feel like shit about themselves, I’m gonna be over here trying to make everyone feel GOOD about themselves. Sometimes it’s gonna be by posting a picture of myself in a bikini, to show girls struggling with being “too skinny” that it’s OK to love yourself even if your ribs show. At other times, it’s gonna be by sharing some delicious, healthy recipes, to show that it’s important to eat, to eat enough and to eat healthy. And sometimes it’s gonna be by sharing other beautiful, healthy women with bodies that don’t look like mine, just like when Melissa from The Lace Appeal was featured on The Hungarian Brunette for an interview all about lingerie. Because while I believe that it’s important to show other women that it’s OK to as skinny as I am, I don’t want to send the message that they have to be. I want to show women that can be beautiful and love yourself regardless of your weight, your boob size, your hair colour and your age.
And just like anything else can be a double-edged sword, I understand that showing a skinny body can be empowering for some, but it can also become an unhealthy goal for others. Because not everyone is meant to be my weight, just like it wouldn’t be healthy for me to be 150lbs. But that doesn’t mean I want to (or will) hide my body. Because I believe that no one should have to hide their body. I believe that if body-positivity and acceptance was an actual thing, rather than just a “cool” conversation to have, it wouldn’t be an issue to show any type of body, because there wouldn’t be no unhealthy goals or standards.
I understand that we’re still really far from that ideal as a society, but the only way we’ll get there is by having the conversation. If no one talks about it, nothing will ever change. And I don’t have kids yet, but I don’t want to live in a world where my daughter will one day come home crying because someone told her that she’s disgusting and needs to eat a burger.
I want to live in a world where different body types are celebrated, valourized and equally represented. And most of all, I want to live in a world where people are kind. Because John Mayer said it SO well when he said:
If you’re pretty, you’re pretty, but the only way to be beautiful is to be loving. Otherwise, it’s just “Congratulations about your face” -John Mayer
I could keep going on and on, but I feel like that’s a fantastic way to end things, just to be aware that beauty isn’t measured by a number on the scale, but rather the size of your heart.
So I want to ask you guys: What do you do to be beautiful? How do YOU spread body-positivity and what would YOU like to see MORE of in mainstream media, social media or anywhere else, really?
Please let me know in the comment section below, or come chime in the conversation on Instagram today.
Love you guys,