How I Handle Online Insults & Trolls As A Plus Size Model With 60K Instagram Followers

As a size 24/26 boudoir model who’s active on social media, I get a lot of hate about my body. I’ve gotten all kinds of insults because of the way that I look. Some are totally unimaginative and boring (“You’re fat and that’s disgusting!”), some are reductive and fetishizing, and some totally miss their mark (calling me a “whale” or “hippo” is an insult? Really? They’re so cute and majestic!). Other insults come as unsolicited health advice based on assumptions about my lifestyle. (“Your existence is promoting obesity, and you’re going to die soon probably from weight-related illnesses that I assume you have!”) Some people don’t even bother beating around the bush; they plain ol’ threaten me or tell me to kill myself, all because they feel threatened by women who are confident, in spite of not conforming to typical beauty ideals. Knowing how to handle online insults and trolls is so important, because they can really impact mental health.

I get loads of positive messages and comments too, but people can be so cruel to those who don’t fit social norms. Especially now, in the age of social media, bullying is a huge problem because it’s so easy to sling hate while hiding in anonymity.

When I first started being active on Instagram, hateful comments about my looks really used to upset me. I used to let trolls make me feel badly about myself. But, now that my perspective on trolls has evolved, insults about my body hardly ever affect me. After all, if someone is offended by the way that I look, that’s their baggage to unpack, and, frankly, not my problem. I deserve to exist as I am. I deserve to take up space, and I deserve to feel good about myself whether or not I live in a body that’s considered conventionally pretty. I've realized that the opinion of anyone who disagrees with any of those simple statements isn’t worth my time. But I wasn't always so confident, and learning how to perceive and deal with online insults took time, trial, and error.

Sense, Sensibility, And So Much Emotional Labor

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I’ve tried out so many approaches to dealing with hate over the years that I’ve been active on social media. At first, I responded to insults with sense and reason. I tried explaining things from my point of view and thoughtfully educating haters. I was often exhausted from the emotional labor I put into engaging with pathetic strangers who have nothing better to do than insult me. In the end, the attention I gave haters by trying to reason with them just encouraged them, and the conversations never went anywhere productive. I realized pretty quickly that this tactic wasn’t working for me, so I switched to one that was a little more aggressive.

An Eye For An Eye

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Next I responded to the trolls by calling them out publicly. I responded to hateful comments and messages with witty, cutting rhetoric. This type of response, while personally satisfying, only ever encouraged trolls. The aggressors would tell their cohorts that I was arguing with them, and soon my social media was blowing up regularly with legions of strangers telling me that I’m ugly, worthless, and that I should kill myself. I realized then that these trolls feed off of absolutely any attention they’re given, and that there was only one method left for me to try out.

Good Vibes Only

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I’ve now discovered a way of reacting to insults that's worked to nip hate in the bud: I block everyone who insults me and delete their comments. I won't have my social media platforms be host to anyone’s negativity, and I’m under no obligation to put in the time and effort to try to edify and change people who are just looking for attention and arguments.

I've been using this method for about a year, and it's been great! It's seriously reduced the amount of hate I receive, because people know they won't get any attention from me. I totally recommend totally shutting out all trolls in this way, because the bottom line is that they're just not worth your time.

Happy People Don't Attack Strangers On The Internet

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Honestly, I just feel sorry for people who insult me now, because I've realized something: happy people don't spread hate. Trolling is pathetic, and their actions just indicate how miserable and insecure they are. People who choose to spend their time trying to make strangers feel badly about themselves have a lot of their own issues to sort through and unpack. They seriously need to work on themselves. One can only hope they do, right?

No one deserves to be insulted by strangers for the way they look, but, unfortunately, it happens all the time. It's the age of social media, and that's both wonderful and dangerous. It's easier than ever to spew anonymous hate at strangers, so knowing how to perceive and handle online hate is essential self-care. Babes, share your selfies. Be proud of who you are, as you are. Don't respond to hate, because trolls just want attention. Simply shut negativity down and go on with your day. Your sparkle is far too bright to be dulled by inconsequential, negative nobodies. Shine on.