U Mad Bro? A Lesson In Internet Mean Girls

"Words have vibrations." - Danielle LaPorte

I was going about my Friday morning, in the first of a day full of meetings, when I stopped for a hot second to check Twitter. I've turned off all push notifications for social media, so I was surprised to see so much activity in maybe two hours since I'd last checked. "What's happening? Why are my mentions blowing up?" I thought to myself. As it turns out, everyone's favorite outspoken athlete, Richard Sherman of our Super Bowl Champion Seahawks, tweeted this photo out:

AHHH! I posted this Instagram (and here on the blog) months ago, and I was stoked to see his team decided to use it for a #FanFriday post. I'd seen tons of other fans' sporting their Richard Sherman gear in past weeks, and I was so excited to see my own face there among them. I shared it with my own Twitter and Facebook friends, and just sat for a second in amazement. I love the Seahawks and I'd had fun styling different tees all season, and Richard Sherman noticed! How cool! 

My excitement brought me over to his Facebook page, where he'd also posted the photo. What was a big smile faded back a bit as I started to read some of the comments underneath the Facebook photo.

My friend  Howie posted this for me :)

I know, I know. Never read the comments. Easy advice to take when the post in question isn't about you. Since this post was all me, I couldn't help myself, and took in each and every comment one by one. The tee says "You Mad Bro?" (Sherman's infamous phrase) and so most of the comments were from guys saying something to the effect of "Not anymore!" Honestly, the guys' comments overall weren't disrespectful. What really got to me was that the meanest, most critical comments were coming from other women. They tore apart everything from my body size and type, my outfit choices, my intelligence, my lifestyle and called me all kinds of names. I was labeled an desperate attention-seeker and a bad example for said women's daughters. All from this one photo!

Even the strongest and most self-confident might not be immune to all of this shit-talking. I certainly wasn't. As a blogger and someone who's active in social media, I put a lot of thought and care to how I put myself out there. I want to be inspiring and exemplary; a strong, powerful female who's gracious, conscious and purposeful with a thirst for knowledge and opinions of her own. How funny is that a single photo could shake that foundation. I started to doubt myself for posting that photo, and for tagging Sherman in it all those months ago. I even thought about asking his team to take the picture down just so I wouldn't have to read all these stupid comments anymore. The rest of that day, I'd get a pit in my stomach every time I logged into Facebook.

I felt the need to explain myself. That I'd taken that photo because I was feeling in great shape; that I was feeling particularly flossy that day; that the shirt looked better with boyshorts than full pants; that I took it in the comfort of my own home, where I watched the game (that I didn't go anywhere looking like that.) Then I decided, "You know what? These losers don't deserve an explanation. I'm proud of the way I look, I'm not naked and I would take that picture again!" I planned on just not saying anything further, but my family was sharpening their teeth and claws ready to get into wars of words with these haters. I told them not to waste their time, and ended up posting this response with as much grace and poise as I could muster:

I closed the book on my curiosity for their opinions then, and I haven't checked back for any new comments since. 

I don't encourage getting into it with trolls, because that's what they want. After spending way too much of my Friday thinking about them, I knew deep down that their opinion had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with them. Their words were criticism rooted in wells of insecurity, jealousy and negativity. It was their choice to put that negative energy out there, as if deflecting it onto me would somehow make them feel better. I know for sure I would never want to function on their level, so why stoop to it? I didn't do anything wrong, and he chose my photo. I don't know him personally, and while he's easy on the eyes, I have a boyfriend who I happen to think is quite handsome and irreplaceable.

I will never apologize to anyone for how I look, how hard I work on my body and what or how I decide to put it out there. 

via  Danielle LaPorte's Pinterest

They tell you not to even acknowledge or engage haters like the ones I encountered on Friday, but I felt the need to speak up to my fellow ladies. I wanted to encourage them to stop and think about why they needed to cut down other women, and how so easily. To take responsibility for the words (and actions) they put out there, whether that's in the digital space, in front of their children and other Facebook friends and to people they may end up meeting one day. I wanted to remind them that all women are beautiful, and they would be too if they didn't put out so much hateful energy out there. It's annoying that I even had to say these kinds of things to grown women, but you can't teach maturity. I won't stand for women bringing each other down when we have much bigger fish to fry out there. I encourage all of you to think positively, and be conscious of how you treat others in real life or in the digital space. It's all a reflection of you and how you think of yourself. It's way easier to turn that negative energy into fuel to work on bettering yourself through health, fitness or just positive thinking than to try and make others feel bad. 

Lastly, I want to say thanks to each and every woman who had something critical or negative to say about my Richard Sherman photo. You make me work that much harder on my 6am workouts and superfood eatin' right each day.