How To Handle Haters Hating

Haters Gonna Hate By Omar Noory from

by Golda Poretsky, HHC

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Last week, I had a weirdly cathartic moment watching a Yankees vs. Red Sox game. The game was at Fenway, and I noticed that each time Alex Rodriguez (who is a Yankee) walked to the plate, he was greeted by a roar of tens of thousands of people booing him.

I realize that a Yankee getting booed in Boston is nothing new. Yet, I started to think about how strange it must be to get booed for doing your job really well. Whether they hate his personal life or the Yankees or whatever, most people would agree that, at least based on the numbers, Alex Rodriguez is one of the greatest players in the history of baseball, right? And yet, he pretty much gets booed in every away game in every stadium across the country.

I had actually decided to watch that game that day because I was feeling really fed up. I had just received a couple of really fat-hating comments on my blog, and an email from a woman who thought my work was too “women-centric.” Watching the game was a little retreat for me. And yet, I found myself feeling good as I watched ARod get booed. Not from schadenfreude, but because it was really inspiring. Seeing him get hit after hit, despite the booing, reminded me of this really important lesson.

Haters gonna hate. That’s just what they do.

As a proponent of Health At Every Size and a fat activist, I know what it’s like to push ahead despite the presence of vociferous haters. The more my work gets out there, the more hateful comments I get, the more angry emails I get, the more funny looks I get.

Whether you’ve just been dabbling in body acceptance or you’re a full-on fat activist, you’ve probably experienced similar things. And because none of us have a $30-million a year contract to keep us going, I think it’s important to look at how to keep going in the face of haters. How do you stand in your commitment to being at peace with your body when the “common wisdom” (a wisdom which is paid for by the $60 billion a year diet industry, among other industries) is against you?

1) Your New Mantra — “Haters Gonna Hate” — I’m a big proponent of using really positive affirmations strategically to change internal thought patterns, so “haters gonna hate” is not the kind of mantra that I’d usually recommend. I do find, however, that “haters gonna hate” is an extremely powerful phrase to use when hatred for your choices is coming your way. It’s a reminder that there will always be haters — people in your life who like to denigrate what you’re all about — and it’s pretty much their job to hate. So if haters are hating on you, that’s just what they do, and you can let it go. You can, then, really focus your attention on people who love what you’re about or are at least open-minded about it, instead of taking that hater’s hate to heart.

2) The Alternative Is No Alternative — If you’ve already started to experiment with body positivity and Health At Every Size, it’s pretty much impossible to go back to full-on body hatred and the belief that you should “do something” about your weight. It creates extreme cognitive dissonance to sit in a Weight Watchers’ meeting fiddling with your points tracker and flagellating yourself over gaining .4 pounds when you’ve been reading body positive blogs all weekend. It just doesn’t work, at least not for long.

3) Being A Revolutionary Is Never Easy — Being body positive in a world where teenagers are getting botox and Dove is pushing deodorant that makes your “unsightly” underarms look prettier is not easy. You are bucking an entrenched system that tells you that hating your body is the right way to feel and that feeling that way is for your own good. This sort of revolution is the kind that “has to be believed to be seen.”* We have to outpicture for ourselves a world where people’s bodies, no matter what their size, are treated with respect and love. Not only that, we have to “be the change we wish to see in the world”** by actively being positive about our bodies, refusing to engage in negative body talk, refusing to engage in diet talk, wearing clothes that make us feel good rather than hide, and having conversations about why the pathologizing of fat hurts us all. This can be an extremely tall order and cause tension — but it’s necessary tension. We might not always do a perfect job at it either, but that’s okay. If we want to truly change the world we have to be easier on ourselves about being uneasy.

Feel free to let me know what helps you when the haters start hating.

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Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. To learn more about Golda and her work, click here.

*I’m quoting a U2 song here (“Walk On”). I really wanted to quote Emma Goldman or Martin Luther King, Jr. and I somehow went with Bono.
**Gandhi quote! Yes!

33 thoughts on “How To Handle Haters Hating

  1. Its natural that you’d get bummed out by fat-hating comments on YOUR blog. You are putting out alot of positive energy in a particular direction. Stick with it and let the people moving in another direction go there alone!

    Haters are usually people who feel very small and need to build themselves up by taking down others.

    As a lark, one day I asked an ex-boyfriend what his pet peeves were (I told him mine was people not signalling to turn). He said “fat people”. I thought he was joking. He went on to tell me he could never be friends with a fat person because he couldn’t relate. His comments then started to get vicious and he began a rant. (Needless to say, that was the beginning of the end of that relationship for me). Over the next few weeks he also started ranting about Obama, educators, the Chinese, any other foreigners, liberals, professors, scientists, the theory of global warming, teenagers, his elderly neighbor. Wow! I realized this is a guy with serious problems and moved on. Unfortunately, some folks just don’t deal with their issues effectively and choose to aim nastiness at others.

    The thing about the internet is there are no filters. ANYONE can get on it and aim their stuff in your direction. Its always stuff that has nothing to do with you.

    1. @Jennifer, It’s really amazing when you look at the parallels between fat people and other groups. Hating someone for their size really is akin to hating someone because of their skin color or nationality — it’s just crazy. I’m so glad you found out what a wingnut this guy was!

      It’s interesting that the fat haters always make up fat email addresses too. They’re so afraid of someone actually telling them what assholes they are that they have to be anonymous assholes!

      Anyway, thanks for your comment.

    2. @Jennifer, Amen! I know exactly what you are talking about. My family has been enduring hate bloggers on the net about our business for the past year, and they behave like vicious rabid animals. I have experienced discrimination due to my weight many times in my adult life, so I am used to that, but this onslaught of online haters really got to me. They even attacked my weight, trying to upset me, but that did nothing to me like their insulting my mother, calling her a murderer. What is wrong with these people?

      Golda, I have struggled with my weight since puberty, but even more so since having children. I am now the heaviest I have ever been, and am not happy about it, but at least I am healthier than most people I know, whether they are thin or not. I really admire what you are doing. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thank you for writing this, Golda. I am pretty new to body positivity, and so I’m just kind of feeling my way. Some days are better than others. I’ve faced some kind of surprising negative feedback from people when I tell them that I’ve given up dieting. It’s nice to have some ways to handle that.

    1. @shaunta, People can feel very confronted when someone says they’re giving up dieting. It’s like your rejecting their whole belief system!

      By the way, you might like my book, Stop Dieting Now: 25 Reasons To Stop, 25 Ways To Heal (. I talk about how to handle those conversations by being really clear about why diets are a bad idea. ( There’s a kindle edition too.

  3. I love this – haters ARE going to hate. These are the small minded people who can’t see a world beyond what they’re told. There will always be those people in life who feel the need to judge others and present their own opinions as facts. I don’t actually have a problem with someone who says “I think all fat people are lazy” becuse it’s their opinion and they are entitled to it, just as I am in turn entitled to not engage with anyone who thinks like that. I get annoyed when people say “all fat people ARE lazy” as if it’s a universal truth. These people are usually not great thinkers, and they are usually down on other people too – they will often be rasist, sexist, homphobic etc. Not in all cases, but in my experience that’s been tru.

    So – I can remove myself from these people and I do. I have no wish to associate with people who are narrow minded and refuse to consider anything different to their own belief system. I like people who are willing to change and who allow others to be who they are, without imposing judgement on them.

    Sorry to go on Golda – you really hit a nerve in me. Great post!

  4. Kat, it brings new meaning to "I'm just worried about your health!" since the dieter really is mucking with her health.

  5. I was once accused of being jealous of someone who is a dieter.I felt like saying.Baby,I ain't jealous.I'm just more evolved♥

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