Sometimes it's not as simple as deleting a comment or blocking a person. When someone takes the time to write a hurtful message, they know EXACTLY what they're doing.
The internet is a gift and curse to many. Through social media, I literally went from being a novice athlete who worked out for fun to being sponsored and partnered up with some dynamic companies. And while I don't regret posting up my regimen, sharing highlights of my day through ASMR style cooking videos and occasional rants here and there, know that it's not as glamorous as it appears. In fact, I recently jumped up close to a thousand followers in the last 36 hours at the expense of being a target of heckling on social media. Oftentimes I am conflicted on calling people out, turning the other cheek or being vulnerable about the degrees of hurtful exchanges produced by strangers who hate me for breathing.
Before I go any further, I want to caution my readers that I'll be putting up some of the most vile things that I received either in message, told in person or posted about me directly/indirectly. I'll also note in advanced that I know that none of these statements define me nor do I seek sympathy. I just want people to understand what it's like to be a target on social media. Typically I don't like screenshot and nail them to the cross culture but frankly, I'm tired of being nice all of the time:
Fans From the Other Box: Messages From My Hecklers
The following statements were accumulated for a special project that I worked on with an incredible company who was curious about the words people felt liberated in sending to me. Reading the statements individually didn't hold much power on my self esteem. Compiling them into a list ruined my entire day. I remember feeling like the sun was trying to shine a bit harder on me to dry up the tears but it wasn't working fast enough. Thank you unofficial sponsor: Two bottles of PresidentÃ© that I took out of my fridge and downed at 10AM. All of the statements are direct quotes that were either copied and pasted, screenshot or transcribed from audio. Some are loaded with typos but I will not correct the words from idiots who adorn my social media or email. Don't say I didn't warn you -- Welcome to a glimpse of my hell:
Top Fifteen Trollers of All Time
"If you looked into natural remedies, removed all of that meat from your diet and go natural, you wouldn't be so big. And why would you even want to glorify that. It is godawful that you think fat people should be happy at that size. Doesn't death scare you? Are you NOT working out to lose weight? What you are doing and suggesting to others is dangerous. Be happy when you are a normal size. Be happy when you take all of that junk out of your diet. There is no way you can be that size when you work out as much as you do. So either you're lying to people about your fitness or lying to them about your food. Maybe you're lying about both. I'm happy you're not a thirst trap but you're just like all of the skinny instagram models who set up cameras and fake workout. I can run a 26.2 in four hours. If you take over 5, thatâs not running. You are power walker honey. The problem with your generation is that you think that you're entitled to having everything and earned NOTHING. I like your creativity and your effort but wait until you're my age and those knees are just going to leave you and all you'll have is that fat. I think you should call on God and ask him to help you through this period. This is a cry for help. Keep up the workouts and try to drink more water."
- Unsolicited advice, June 2018, Instagram user
"Speaking of cookies maybe if you laid off them you wouldn't have to defend yours and other's fat unhealthy bodies."
- Instagram user who stated that she is a 'reformed fatty.' September 2017
"How about instead of hitting back she hits the gym and loses weight? And how about people stop virtue signaling when someone makes fun of them and just...I don't know... move on with their lives? How is this stupidity always news worthy?"
- Thomas Oakes, Facebook User in reference to "What Happened After I Spoke out About Fat Shaming at the NYC Marathon" for Runner's World
"If you got some dick, then maybe you would know better than to talk back you fat bitch. Say something else and I'll choke you with my dick in your throat."
- One of six men who verbally attacked me for not leaving a space in the gym and not giving up a piece of equipment while using it for a workout. March 23, 2018 (this was a really hard day)
NOTE: I was able to quote this because I was recording my workout. I put up the workout on my Instagram page months later. It was too hard to revisit after going through the ordeal.
This is not in order but here's some of the screenshots of what it's like to have someone interrogate your plate to calling you a 'ninny.' Just in case you cannot tell who is speaking, I'm on the right side bubble and he's on left. Breakdown of his comments in picture and more here:
"There's a huuuuuggeee portion and loads of carbs." (Initial conversation that led to a series of responses because I refuse to give him an explanation of what or how I eat):
- no_gymdays_off Instagram, August 9, 2018
"You fucking gorilla. Cuss my friend out I'll come to that shit hole you live in and fuck you up myself you fucking coon, baiting people for content so that you can show people how much of a victim that you are to build likes and a following instead of instantly blocking them, you cheap ass gorilla block me and go fuck right off, you aggro baiting sympathy seeking coon. YOU'RE A FUCKING FRAUD AND YOU ATTRACT PROBLEMS BECAUSE YOU ARE A CUNT! I'MMA BE OVER THERE SOON MARK MY WORDS!
- kiss_it_niggs Instagram (defending her friend no_gymdays_off)
"I love me a fat bitch who can't put down the burgers. You can blow up dick like a Samsung Note." - Instagram, May 2018
"If u run a marathon and r still fat then u probably eat like a horse. Slow down on the munchies fat ass." - Rachel Olsen, Facebook response after an article via BuzzFeed went viral, January 2017
"Back in high school, you was beautiful. I don't know why you did it but it's like you let yourself go. I can help you if you buy these pills."
- Family 'Friend', 2010
"No wonder why your child is a type one diabetic. He has a whale of a bitch for a mother who cannot control her eating. Someone should take away your parental rights."
- Almost two years ago via E-Mail
"Keep eating that way and you'll continue to miscarry. Do yourself a favor and just stop trying."
- Last year after miscarrying with my twins and going through depression, E-Mail
"Not only are you a terrible example to your son and others but you're a slut too. Put on some clothes. The only 'WEIGHT ISSUE' is allowing that nigger cow pose nude on a publication."
- An email that came in after being published in Self Magazine's The Weight Issue
"Censorship is something of the past. You're not empowering women. You're promoting obesity. Women are empowered by having some self respect for their bodies. You're suggesting to women that it's okay to wear crop tops that don't fit their body type and to lay all of their information out there to the internet. You have a strong voice and I like some of the things you do but even you can be wrong sometimes. You can post this on your IG story if you want. I really don't care."
- Former Follower who blocked and changed her name after I put up the conversation on Instagram, September 8, 2018
"If they burned all of you faggots and niggers in a lake, I would rejoice. You can't make up your mind if you want to be with a man or commit atrocities against the Lords way with a woman. You. Will. Burn. In. Hell. Homewrecker. And you're a fat gluttenous bitch leading a bunch of other fat nigger sheeps. Trump will build a wall for all of you to kill each other in your little ghettos."
- Same week that someone created a string of fake accounts, June 2018
"You can admit if you bought your medals online. Someone your size don't do things like this. Being fraudulent with your audience is a genuine disservice. I know you did some of these races but not all of them."
- Email being accused of lying about my medals and races. This happens a lot since I started marathons and ultra marathons.
"Solutions" by Viewers, Subscribers and a Genuinely Concerned Collective
Opted to make this a Q&A because I repeat this a shit load of times:
Why don't you just block them?
Been there. Done that. Some resurface like roaches because the Combat formula wasn't strong enough.
Why bother responding?
...because I'm human. I bleed. I shit. I eat. I cry. I feel. Each person cannot be handled the same way. Some people are seeking entertainment while others really believe the bullshit that they write. Sometimes conversations help both parties or when I'm done with ignoring, I feel better after helping them understand a portion of the closed off rage that I have for online bullying.
Doesn't it come with the territory of going viral/being a social influencer/exposing yourself on the Internet?
Yes and absolutely not. Asking for a human being who happened to willingly or (in my case) unknowingly go viral doesn't mean that they morph into a superhuman Internet character that miraculously hold the power to not giving a fuck about comments. People should have the common knowledge of right and wrong but they don't exercise it. Going viral, being a social influencer, famous or even posting up a picture of yourself to a group of people doesn't mean that I should consider this part of the package deal. It doesn't make me naÃ¯ve about the subject; it makes me a human who chooses to have a brain and not normalize the situation.
Do these comments affect your day?
In the beginning, absolutely. These days, not as much. I am only pissed off about the comments that antagonize my parental techniques, claim that my husband is being held hostage - because clearly fat people don't get married - and ones who make fun of my son. Honestly I wasn't trying to but I've become a bit desensitized to it but I will not normalize it.
Are you trying to be a voice for fat/plus size/POC/people with disabilities?
I certainly wasn't trying it but I'm not exactly an anti-hero either. I didn't walk into this with the intention of being the voice of others; I was merely trying to stop people from thinking it was okay to poke fun at my expense. In fact, I ran away from this type of stuff since 2013 every single time I was featured about weight loss and gain. I thought it was being extra at times and didn't know how to embrace or accept compliments. My experience of working on productions, with people in the industry and being a photographer alongside my husband exposed me to the terrible atrocities that people 'deal with' when in the public eye. Those intimate conversations scared me and I wasn't sure I was built for that. 'Thick skin' is something that's loosely thrown around (no pun intended) and I will not grow another layer for the comfort of others who are 'annoyed' by my rants. There's always the block, ignore or keep it moving button for you as well.
Are you not being a bully with your puns?
Yep. I'm okay with that peace. Don't dish what you cannot eat. At the same time, I learned a lot from going viral. Not every person needs to be put on blast nor do I need to be the clap back Queen on everything. After a while, you have to know when to step away from the keyboard. These conversations grow toxic really quickly and looking back, while funny, I'm not proud of every comment thrown out there when I started learning some of the sources of these people's pain. Surely this is not a justification on their behalf but I try to stimulate healthy dialogue before turning the fuck up on a bitch.
Why don't you just stop reading the comments or disable them?
Do you wake up in the morning, brush your teeth, wash your face and say 'ah, I better not touch that email because an asshole is going to write me at 4:48AM?' Let's really think about this: You're asking me to disable comments, which eliminates my ability to interact with the loads of GREAT people out there on the internet. There's a small fraction of trolls and THOUSANDS on THOUSANDS of amazing people out there. How many people should I abandon just for a few hundreds of jackass whisperers?
I don't make enough money to hire an assistant to read my emails and I'm too much of a control freak with trust issues to hire someone at the moment. People tend not to look for this. When an article goes up, I'm interested in knowing how my words or an interview affected people. I grow from positive and negative feedback. If I didn't read the comment section, I would've missed out on some valuable advice that people didn't know I was getting. If I avoided my emails, I wouldn't have one of my favorite workout buddies Allen to meet me at the gym. If I didn't respond to my Instagram, I wouldn't have been able to talk with a special little girl name Emily who one of the most dynamic people I've come to know without ever hugging her. You want me to give these idiots power? What works for you may not work for me.
Do you thrive on heckling back? Are you fishing for compliments?
'Please call me a fat bitch, tell me I deserved to be raped and a race baiter for likes and hearts.'
Honey, I know too many excellent ways of growing an audience and fishing for compliments isn't one of them. I could lose weight the way that my hecklers ask me to do every single day and gain WAY MORE followers for being 'inspirational' but that's not my truth.
Confidence cannot come from outsiders, even your loved ones. Confidence is worn on your skin and nourished in your body. There's no formula you can buy or a certain amount of clicks that determines whether you have a healthy relationship with your self-esteem. I tried appeasing people and it caused much more damage than trying to learn how to love myself.
Honestly speaking, I don't hate my body's physical appearance but I struggle every single day with what my body does to me on the most physically grueling moments. I have sciatica, disc degeneration, endometriosis, hair that grows EVERYWHERE after waxing/shaving two days later and I cannot bare a child more than five seconds without something happening thanks to these diagnosis. There's not a damn thing that someone can SAY to me to make me feel 'beautiful' if I cannot learn how to talk to myself better. Likes, hearts and comments are temporary. Inner peace is a WONDERFUL thing. I refuse to be all cocoa butter, incense and kumbaya or self-depreciative at the expense of work that took me years to get to healthy place.
âIn short: Fuck. That. Noise. And I haven't collected a damn check yet for calling an online troll a 'muthafucker' but I'm down to do it if it'll help people find their voice.
Why don't you put them on blast each time they contact you?
There's a multitude of reasons why I don't do this often. Most times, it's the same redundant bullshit. For instance, Google someone by the name of Jane Benfer. She's a real classic character in the Ultra Running community who made her rounds, loading up my platform and countless others with menacing little happy faced emojis or irrational rants about how ultra runners cheat on races by jumping into cars. She is mostly harmless when she's not calling in race directors or sponsors claiming that they cheated.
Once in a blue, I actually have to make a police report because it's grown beyond just internet trolling. Unfortunately I had a few people who resulted to stalking and some things are not worth talking about on the internet.
Once in a blue, I actually have a breakthrough in a conversation. Typing is loosely translated versus actual human interaction. I've met a few (and I don't recommend this to others) but I'm fortunate enough to say that two of three encounters turned out EXCELLENT. I learned about their damage and we're actually on decent terms.
Some people actually thrive on trolling -- like profit on it. There's people out there who will heckle online personalities or someone with a lot of followers in hopes of that person cracking. Then there's just the spammers. Typically you can tell from the obvious 'genital warts' statements or similar patterns in harassment.
Once in a blue, I get nervous about where it'll go. What happens if one of my friends, family members or a follower locate this person. I don't feel comfortable with having someone avenge me beyond a keyboard. That's a scary thought.
Most times, I have better shit to do than interact with a dip shit sausage faced fucker from Wisconsin who is going on his fourth divorce. If you put up screenshots too much, some of you will accuse me of thriving off of being the 'victim.' This brings me to the next section:
Shauntay's Wrap it the F*ck Up Moment
I woke up late this morning to this:
My response was very zen:
Frankly I'm tired of being PC every single moment. Why? Because this is not real life for everyone. I get it: Sometimes power lies in the person who doesn't respond. Other times you have snatch that power back from an idiot who tries to run off with your joy.
People have no idea how many times I am suggested to turn the other cheek? My face HURTS. I feel the pain here and there but people want me to act like it doesn't exist. I refuse to be a whipping boy at someone else's expense. I'm tired too. I FEEL TOO. Don't tell me that I'm strong while taking a hit because it's degrading and hurtful -- just as much as these shit hole comments.
Consider this if you haven't: Asking victims to ignore a situation every single time that they're assaulted is asking them to pretend the situation didn't happen. Perhaps you don't see it this way but it's asking for me not to FEEL. It is asking for me to normalize this situation. It is asking for me to not have a voice. This is beyond an ego thing or having the last word. Sometimes people get angry and THAT'S PERFECTLY OKAY. Stop asking people to not be mad when they are name-called and harassed. Stop asking them to grow some balls or to not be so 'sensitive.' You are just as much of a trigger to their trauma when you ask them to 'get over it.'
Surely everything cannot be taken to heart but you don't get to choose when a person should get over it or be affected by it. If you want to help your friend, family member or that online person you admire, acknowledge their hurt and actually listen to them. If they don't want to talk about it, respect that action too. If they are looking for ways to process their pain and not be affected by every comment thrown at time, guide them through the process with different avenues that tailors their comfort level at their own speed. You want people to be survivors? Address the issue, back them with your support and guide them to the help that they need. And if the opportunity arises where a person is harassing them in real time, support your person the best way you know how. It doesn't mean put on a cape and be a Twitter hero. It can be a simple as saying 'please stop' and reporting them. I just lost someone to suicide from online bullying last week. I don't want to lose another goddamn person because someone is telling them to 'ignore it.' Don't ask us to put bandaids on infected wounds without treatment.
Latoya Shauntay Snell
For my pretentious ass bio, check out the about me page but for anyone interested in who I really am, make me a good meal at your house and I'll tell you a dope ass story.
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