The Social Media Stars Celebrating Their Differences In The Best Ways
This Anti-Bullying Week, Em Ford, Callie Thorpe and Harnaam Kaur reveal their experiences with bullying, and give the very best advice for dealing with trolls.
Having a huge following on social media has its perks, but being juicy bait for online trolls is a DEFINITE downside.
Plus size model and blogger Callie Thorpe, bearded female campaigner Harnaam Kaur, and beauty blogger Em Ford are three social media influencers that have ALL been bullied online. We caught up with them to talk being victimised, dealing with online hate, and why embracing those things people can tear you apart for only makes you stronger.
Here's Talulah-Eve with 5 tips on how to deal with online bullying...
Can you describe a time you’ve been bullied either online or in real life, and what for?
Callie: Growing up I’ve always been overweight and although I was lucky to have made it through high school fairly unscathed, the odd times I was laughed at, called names or made a joke of because of my weight stuck with me.
Now that I’m an adult you would think bullying wouldn't be an issue, but sadly it's something I still have to deal with. My job as a plus size fashion blogger and body positive writer has meant that I’m often subject to nasty online comments and sometimes quite serious trolling about my size.
Just recently I was featured in Vogue, a huge achievement for anyone, but unfortunately I was put into a particularly dark and nasty forum and became a target for violent, cruel comments, some of which I decided to share on my social media pages to highlight just what it’s like being a plus size woman on the internet.
Harnaam: I have been bullied most of my life, and it is still something that I go through. I am a Bearded Lady and people can be very shallow when it comes to how they treat other people. I have been body shamed, had death threats sent to me, and even physically groped in public. I can honestly say that I have never had a period where I’ve been able to take a break from all the bullying that I face.
As someone who looks very different, I just expect to be hated for the way that I look and for the work that I do. It’s this hate that proves the lack of knowledge people have about various issues in society. Bullying makes mental health suffer, and I have lived through stress, anxiety, and deep depression. Now, when I get any kind of hate, I try to educate as much as possible.
Em: I created and posted a film on YouTube in 2015 called ‘You Look Disgusting’, about the online abuse I received after posting images of myself without makeup online. I feel like YLD offered me a sense of closure - it put a stop to almost all of the comments instantly, and helped me to connect with people.
How did you deal with the bullying you received? Do you have any regrets?
Callie: It was a really hard period for me, and also my husband. Having to read comments from people telling you to die, saying that you are disgusting, that you make them sick isn't easy to deal with, but I tried to find inner strength to share the message that online bullying can’t be allowed to go on. I was even invited onto the news to share my story and started a frank conversation about online trolling. My only regret is that I wasted tears on people that have so much hate in their hearts.
Harnaam: I regret absolutely nothing, and wouldn’t change any part of my past in any way, shape or form. I’m proud of the journey that I have walked on.
I have developed thick skin. Yes, I read the horrid comments, and yes I take them in. But I have realised that the comments are merely other people’s opinions, which have no effect on the way that I feel about myself. I found it difficult to come to this stage but I’m able to deal with bullying a lot better now.
What can we all do to help prevent or put a stop to bullying happening around us or online?
Callie: Call out online bullying when you see it happening online, use report buttons so that people who are behaving in this horrible way get shut down. Also talking to other people about how to be safe on the internet and reminding them it's okay to switch off of the internet when things get tough.
Em: I think the most important thing is to call it out. Whether it's a stranger or a friend, if you see something - say something.
Is the internet more of a dangerous place to be different, or an empowering place to celebrate your uniqueness?
Callie: I think the internet can be both a good and bad place. It can help people who feel like they’re different find comfort and a community online who are like them, who perhaps they would never meet in everyday life. However equally it’s also a place that can cause anxiety and comparison.
I personally am a huge believer in seeing the positive side of the internet, because I’ve been able to interact with so many wonderful, strong and inspiring people in the body positive community.
Harnaam: On social media, depending on how private your account is, you’re very open and vulnerable to online hate. Social media can be a damaging place, but it all depends on how you use it, what your intentions are, and the types of profiles that you are following. Use social media, don’t let social media use you; it’s a snapshot reality, not actual reality.
Em: I created my first website at 11 years old, and have always been a part of some sort of internet community over the years. The beauty of the web is that, no matter what your hobby or niche, you will always be able to find your people.
Why is it more important to carry on being authentically you and maybe standing out among the crowd, than to try and mould yourself to people’s expectations?
Harnaam: Why should you mould yourself? I was born to be unique and different, and that’s why I don’t look like anyone else. Be true to you, live life how you wish to live it and absolutely flaunt who you are. Through being yourself, you could even spark some inspiration in the heart of someone else to be themselves too.
Don’t try to be an inspiration by changing who you are, show people just how amazing you are just by being yourself.
Em: If you spend your whole life trying to be who other people want you to be, you'll never please them - and most importantly, never find a way to please yourself. It's YOUR life - remember to put your own happiness first sometimes.
What is your advice to someone who is being bullied either online or IRL, and can you give them an empowering message to take away?
Callie: I read a quote recently that said 'no one is you and that is your power'. Being who you are is so much more important than moulding yourself into what other people want. We all only have one life so we have to live it in the most authentic way possible. My advice to anyone who is struggling right now is to seek out help, speak to your family and friends, a problem shared is a problem solved, and you don’t have to go through this alone. Finally, I would like to remind anyone that is being bullied, or even finds themselves bullying, that it's never too late to seek help.
Em: Take screenshots, file them away in a zip folder - then mute, block, delete. Tell someone what’s happening and know that you can get through this. YOU are enough & you have so much going for you.
Harnaam: Please remember that you are not alone. Through speaking up about what you are going through, you may even save other people from their bullies. Speak to a loved one, or if you aren’t able to do that then a good free helpline to call is Samaritans, on 116123.
You are made to be great, you are powerful and you are on this earth because your existence is valid and has a purpose. Live to fulfil your purpose to the best of your ability.
Read here for more about this year's Anti-Bullying Week. If you're being bullied, take a look at the Anti-Bullying Alliance or Childline site, or if you need to talk to someone, ring Childline’s helpline on 0800 1111.
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