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A Few Thoughts On The Youtube Trolls And Why It Really Is Okay To Be Fat And Visible

by Golda Poretsky, H.H.C. on June 3, 2013

internet trolls image

A pretty accurate depiction of an internet troll

I really, really wanted my TEDx talk on “Why It’s Okay To Be Fat” to go viral.

And it kind of did go viral. I just didn’t think it would happen the way it did.

Within a day or two of the talk going live on youtube, troll groups on bodybuilding forums and reddit set out to systematically shut it down. Within less than a week, they had written around 3,000 comments, voted down or marked as spam any supportive comments, and did everything in their power to get as many thumbs down on the video itself as possible.

Comments are now disabled, mainly because many of my supporters contacted the TEDx people and convinced them to turn off the comments. (A GAZILLION THANKS TO ALL OF YOU, BY THE WAY.)

It seemed like about 5% of the negative comments were of the, “DUH! Fat is bad!!!” variety and the other 95% were personal attacks on my appearance. I got called everything from a fat whale (yeah, whales are terrible, I guess?), a fat cunt (again, not a terrible thing), to Chris Christie (I’m not a fan of his politics, but his fatness doesn’t bother me in the least).

To be honest, there were definitely moments when the comments got to me. Seeing a comment about your hideousness get 50 likes doesn’t exactly shore up your ego.

At the same time, I feel like I’m pretty much the perfect person for this to happen to, because I really can take it. I’ve been practicing and teaching body acceptance for so long that mean comments on the internet don’t hurt me the way they would someone less body loving. I’m really serious about my deep spiritual practice of not giving a shit.

The thing that upset me most about this experience was all of the emails I got from folks who said “your experience with these trolls is the reason I don’t have a vlog/ web presence/ more visibility in my work.” And that really, really bummed me out. Because my not so secret mission in life is to empower plus sized women to do the things in life that they really want to do. I hated that the trolls of this world had gotten the better of them.

That’s the thing that scares me most. I don’t fear trolls; I fear their chilling effect.

Every time you stop yourself from doing something because you’re worried about what trolls will do, they win.

So here’s my take on trolls. I think there are ways to manage trolls, and I feel like the last two weeks have been a helpful crash course for me. I hope this will be empowering for you.

  1. Trolls Are Assholes — Pardon my French on this, but trolls are assholes. Think about it — when you disagree with someone, do you call them names, make fun of their appearance, publicly wish for their death, and hide behind internet anonymity? Probably not. You might argue with them a bit, or you might move on with your life or both. Trolls are sad little dipshits emboldened by other sad little dipshits, masquerading as much tougher dipshits. That’s all. When you think of it that way, how can they have any impact on how you feel about yourself and live your life?
  2. Make Fun Of Trolls Whenever You Feel Like It — I used to have a firm “ignore all trolls” policy. I still have that policy for fora outside of twitter. But on twitter, all bets are off. Twitter is the most fun place to make fun of trolls because you’ll notice that (a) they have no followers, (b) they are terrible at witty banter, and (c) your twitter friends can join in and have a good laugh.
  3. Here are a few of my favorites:

  4. Never Give Trolls What They Ask For — Don’t debate with trolls. Trolls will often demand that you debate with them, send them more info, comment on XYZ. You owe them nothing. If someone is pleasant and asks for something, that’s one thing. But if they’re insulting in any way, don’t give them an inch. Mark them as spam or block them and move on. Don’t reply unless it feels fun to do so.

If this helps you, great. And if you disagree with it, that’s fine too. Just please don’t let them stop you from doing your thing!

By the way, if you’re looking to have a more body loving summer, you’re going to love The Summer Of Body Love. Click below to check it out.

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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.

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