3 Questions This Body-Pos Activist Asks Herself Before Deciding to Respond to Hateful Comments
When it comes to dealing with haters, especially body shamers, it's hard to know the right thing to do. Here, Jacqueline Adan shares how she deals.
Jacqueline Adan has been candidly sharing her inspiring weight-loss journey on social media for several years now. The special education teacher has lost 350 pounds (and counting) and has become an advocate for body positivity and self-love. (Related: Jacqueline Adan Wants You to Know That Losing Weight Won't Magically Make You Happy)
Along the way, the 30-year-old has dealt with her fair share of body-shaming-in person and especially online. Recently, she took to her Instagram Stories to share how she responds to this kind of hate. "Self-love, body confidence and being comfortable in the skin you are in can be so hard," she wrote. "So no matter what, never stop working on loving you. Also, remember negative people who don't understand you or your journey are going to try to break you. Remember you cannot stop it from happening, but you can choose how you will react." (Related: Why Body-Shaming Is Such a Big Problem and What You Can Do to Stop It)
Then, she shared two examples of hateful comments she recently received, along with her responses to them. In one of the examples, a person wrote: "This is the problem with modern day people. They think it's f***in' okay and healthy to be fat. News flash, you can get diabetes and die."
Adan responded by saying: "You obviously know nothing about me, and I do not choose to have to explain or justify myself or my body to you. ... I'm sorry you seem so upset and feel the need to spread hate. Try spreading love instead-I'm sure you'll feel much better."
When it comes to dealing with haters, especially body-shamers, it's hard to know the right thing to do. Most people, especially those with large social media followings like Adan, might say you shouldn't engage with these nasty commenters and work instead on not being fazed by the negativity.
Adan, however, says she this isn't always a realistic solution for her. Being in the public eye with 121,000+ people following her journey on Instagram alone, she can be a target for these kinds of nasty, hateful comments. "There are people out there who feel the need to comment their own opinions and thoughts and who do not agree with what I am saying, which is totally okay," Adan tells Shape. "Everyone has a right to their own opinion, but sometimes it can be very mean and very hurtful. I do not receive a ton of negative messages. However, I feel like when I do, it can be hard to deal with." (Related: ICYDK, Body-Shaming Is an International Problem)
"A lot of times it does hurt, but I have to remind myself that their comments or their negativity do not define me or who I am as a person," she says. The severity of these unwarranted comments can vary, says Adan, so not all of them can be easily brushed aside and forgotten about.
"Usually, trolls who are just name calling, rude, and, making fun of my body are easier to ignore than the ones who are attacking who I am as a person," she says. "But people who tell me I 'only do this for fame' or that I Photoshopped my pictures to look bigger, smaller, etc., are the ones I find difficult to just ignore. I also have a hard time brushing off comments telling me who I am, and what I am going through."
For instance, Adan says a lot of people claim that she's undergone weight-loss surgery because it seems impossible to lose 350 pounds without it. "I receive comments that say I don't actually work out or say that I definitely have a medical condition that makes my body appear the way it is," she says. "Those are the comments I feel like I want to respond to most because they are speculating false information. I feel like I want to justify myself. I feel like those comments hurt the most because it's not just having an opinion of my body or calling me 'fat,' it's attacking who I am and who I have worked so hard to become." (P.S. It's Okay Not to Love Your Body Sometimes, Even If You Support Body Positivity)
So while Adan does ignore the trolls for the most part, like most people, she has her limit to what she can take. "When I do decide to respond to people, I admit I sometimes do want to clap back with a sassy remark," she says-after all, she's only human. "I find that when I am already having a hard day or I am struggling with loving myself, and someone decides on that day to tell me how fat I am, or how much my body sucks, I definitely get on the defensive and can feel worse about myself, which makes me want to say something nasty back."
But before getting ahead of herself, Adan asks a few important questions to make sure she's spreading love and not perpetuating hate. "Before responding, I ask myself, 'Is this really worth my time?' 'Can I respond in a positive way and not sink down to hate and negativity myself?' and 'Does it really matter?'" (Related: How Body-Shaming Someone Else Finally Taught Me to Stop Judging Women's Bodies)
If the answers to those questions give her a positive and informative way to respond, then she will, otherwise, she'll suck it up and try to move on. "I do not think that there is a right way to handle hate social media," says Adan. "I think everyone needs to do what they feel is best for them. But the one thing I feel strongly about is that hate just brings more hate. So if you are responding to those comments, in the same way, what is that saying about you? Being on a body-positive platform, how can you promote love and positivity while putting others down? Chances are the people making those comments are the ones who need the most love anyway."