Lauren London had a baby last year and, like any other mother, gained a few pounds. It’s kind of normal. That’s why it was so surprising—and offensive—when Internet trolls began lobbing insensitive comments after the actress was spotted out with her partner (he actually may be her fiancé or secret hubby, check the ring) at a basketball game.
It’s easy for folks to say insensitive things via social media. Most people know they will not immediately run into the person they insulted. And, by default, typing on a phone or computer allows an individual to be disconnected from the real life ramifications his or her comments may have on the targeted person’s life, self-esteem and the topic at hand (such as weight). While well-known individuals, like London, have scores of fans and friends who are happy to go to war on his or her behalf, the average person is left to fend for his or herself, both emotionally and via social media. Snarky snapback GIFs aside, demeaning comments can have an impact on even the most confident person.
Whether you are being attacked or reading them, I suggest changing your perspective on trolls and their asinine critiques. How? Lean your mirror in his or her direction.
Folks who enjoy making insensitive social media comments typically have a dirty little secret: low self-esteem. Mean-spirited, demeaning and overly critical statements actually say more about the troll than the “intended victim.” Why? Because topics and issues—especially those that don’t directly impact a person—that garner an explosive response are typically touching a nerve (Read: highlighting a personal sense of inadequacy). For example, an individual who is hypercritical of someone’s weight may actually be insecure about his or her own body or looks.
Additionally, while foolish comments may be entertaining, they also have implications that are even greater than being hurtful to the intended target, such as setting new societal norms from increasing the social acceptability of being rude to affirming unrealistic and limited standard of beauty.
The next time you “like,” or even laugh at a body shamer’s rude comment— such as the one made by The Breakfast Club host, Charlagmane—think about the message that statement gives others, and, perhaps most important, what is says about the messenger.
S. Tia Brown is the lifestyle director at EBONY magazine and a licensed therapist. She also believes in love and the promise that it gives. Follow her @tiabrowntalks