Being a #girlboss is a goal we all aspire to, but when it makes you fair game for criticism, how do you shake it off?
We ask successful Kiwi women how they deal with haters, from keyboard warriors to the ones who throw shade in person.
Beauty vlogger and entrepreneur
“The first time I was publicly criticised was when a girl at high school called me out in front of the class, asking why I was doing YouTube videos. Her goal was to embarrass me and it worked. I expect criticism nowadays, but I think people forget that I’m a human being. I do see their comments, and I can be as hurt by them as anyone else. The worst is if someone tells me that I’m lazy or that I’ve put no effort into something I have actually spent a lot of time on. I’m confident enough within myself that ‘ugly’ and ‘fat’ comments no longer get to me, though. I just brush them off. Block, delete, goodbye. My main reason for doing so is because these comments set a terrible example. Hate is already thrown around so freely online, and the more people see it, the more they will believe it’s okay. It’s not. No one should have to put up with bullying, threats or abuse. If you are being bullied, remove yourself from the situation. If a bully thinks you aren’t affected by their words, they will soon give up. If they don’t, report them to an authority figure, whether that person is a teacher, parent, or even a police officer. Then go and eat some chocolate, put on some lipstick and remind yourself how fabulous you are.”
Actor on Wentworth and The Expanse. Shortland Street alum
“When I first started acting on Shortland Street I was only 16. Adjusting to being a minor in an adult world was difficult enough, so receiving harsh comments from strangers added to the confusion. People forget that being a public figure doesn’t make you immune to criticism. It just means your life is a little less private and your job is probably a bit odd. Thankfully negative comments don’t get to me as much as they used to. I disregard personal attacks – they aren’t valid as the people making them don’t know me. It annoys me more if there is a comment that criticises a performance I’ve done, although I’ve had to learn how to take that. It helps to turn my phone off and go somewhere with minimal reception and lots of nature. It also helps to understand that most bullies are just seeking an outlet for their own issues or hardships. A word to the bullies out there, though: remember that hurting someone else’s feelings isn’t going to make you feel better about yourself. Also, smile more! It feels good.”
“Being in the public eye means you are more visible, and the more visible you are, the more open you are for people to throw shade. Regardless, receiving hate is never easy, no matter who you are. Unfortunately, social media platforms have enabled bullies to comment in a way that makes them feel disconnected from those they are targeting. People always say ‘f*ck the haters’, but we think it’s better to not entirely ignore the problem and rather seek support. We are extremely grateful to have each other as we both have a dope sense of humour and having a good laugh can be a great outlet. We get that a lot of the time people don’t actively set out to hurt others with their comments, but as a rule of thumb, how about not criticising things that someone can’t fix within five minutes? Also, there is this nice proverb that we all learned in kindergarten: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!”
Blogger, alopecia ambassador, former model, mother of twin boys @thereevenuggets
“I’m very aware that people usually act out if they don’t understand something. This was certainly true of growing up with alopecia. When I was little, I was told that I couldn’t play with the other kids because I was ugly and it was assumed that my disease was something they could catch. Facing up to these kinds of attitudes can be very scary, but I learnt that communication is one of the fastest ways out of the situation. As soon as I started standing up for myself and telling people what was going on, things got better. People still love to criticise me over the internet about everything from my personal values to how I raise my children, but if I directly reply they back down. I don’t like confrontation so it’s more about disarming the situation than going into full attack mode, but if someone is having a go at me I’ll defend myself. Bullying is never okay and it’s beyond me why anyone would want to add more suffering to this world. Why not be a positive force for everyone in it instead?”
“The information we share on Julia and Libby always has a health and wellness angle, so naturally people sometimes disagree with what we say. That’s fine – we are open to discussion. But we delete comments that are rude, threatening or put someone down. The first time I was personally attacked online I was really angry, mostly because I knew the commenter would never have said something so nasty to my face. Libby and I are fairly used to it now, but if I’m having a crappy day a negative comment can really get to me, so it helps to talk to her about it. I’d advise anyone to do the same. Don’t bottle your emotions up until you are at breaking point. I was bullied at school and it affected me quite badly. The difference between now and then is that I now know how to deal with it. A huge part of that is remembering that someone else’s opinion of you does not define who you are.”