We’ve all been there. Whether it’s an IRL mean girl situation at school or an anonymous internet troll commenting on your latest Instagram, so-called “haters” are everywhere — and they’re pretty tough to ignore. (Raise your hand if you’ve ever received 50 praise-filled comments on a photo, but the only one you can recite word-for-word is the one negative one you got.)
It can feel hard — impossible, even — to turn a blind eye to naysayers, but if your dream is to go pro in the dance world, developing thick skin is crucial. One day a casting director at an audition may dismiss you for being “too blonde,” “too tall,” or “too curvy,” or you may be shown the door for no reason at all. There’s a difference between a critic and a hater, but it’s important to be able to stand strong in the face of both. Think you can’t do it? Even Beyoncé has haters! And so do some of the most successful women in the world. They’ve been there — and here’s what they have to say about it.
“‘Shake It Off’ is about how I deal with criticism and gossip and humiliation and all those things that used to level me. Now I deal with those things by laughing at them. I didn’t want it to feel victimized. Four years ago I put out a song called ‘Mean’ from the perspective of ‘Why are you picking on me? Why can I never do anything right in your eyes?’ It was coming from a semi-defeated place. Fast-forward a few years and ‘Shake It Off’ is like, ‘You know what? If you’re upset and irritated that I’m just being myself, I’m going to be myself more, and I’m having more fun than you so it doesn’t matter.’” —Taylor Swift in Billboard
“I always joke about letting the haters motivate you. Everybody has that in their life, people who doubt them or make them feel less than they are. It just takes faith and belief in yourself, and you’ve got to dig deep into that. That has to come from you — nobody’s going to give you that.” —Jennifer Lopez in Glamour
“I tried to stay off the internet because there’s just so much negativity. Either it was about my hair or my hand not over my heart or I look depressed. It was hurtful. It was hurtful. It was. It’s been kind of a lot to deal with. I apologized if I offended anyone. I’ve always said it was an honor to represent the U.S. You always do this for your country, and then, like people say, for yourself and other people.” —Gabby Douglas in ESPN
“When it comes to social media, there are just times I turn off the world. There are just some times you have to give yourself space to be quiet, which means you’ve got to set those phones down. You can’t be reading all that stuff. I mean, that’s like letting somebody just walk up and slap you, you know? You would never do that. You would never just sit there and go, ‘Slap me in the face and I’m good with it.’ No. So why would you open yourself up to that? So that’s one thing with social media — I don’t read that stuff. I learned that early in the campaign. I couldn’t keep reading stuff about my husband and what people thought because I knew who he was, I knew what was going on in our home, in our lives, so I didn’t need to read about it from somebody else. But the other thing that I have found particularly in this job and that is: People won’t remember what other people say about you, but they will remember what you do … So when it came to this role, I just said, you know, let me just be First Lady. Let me wake up every day and work hard to do something of value, and to do it well, and to do something consequential, and to do something that I care about. And then let that speak for itself. And that would shut up the haters, because I would have a whole portfolio of stuff that defined me because it’s what I did, not what you called me. So the best revenge is success.” —Michelle Obama at the 2016 United State of Women Summit
“You come across [online comments] about yourself and about your friends, and it’s a very dehumanizing thing. It’s almost like how, in war, you go through this bloody, dehumanizing thing, and then something is defined out of it. My hope is, as we get out of it, we’ll reach the next level of conscience. It’s almost like we’re being given this test: Can you regulate yourself? Can you grow from this? Can you learn? You can make it as bloody as you want to, but is that the point?” —Gwyneth Paltrow at the 2014 Code Conference
“These are obviously also people that don’t think of you as an actual human with actual feelings, which I think is a really big problem right now in social media. There are people who feel like they’re able to hide behind their user names and their private accounts, who feel like they can say whatever they want and it won’t affect anyone. I try not to pay attention to it that much, but it got to a point where I started to feel self-conscious about certain things — in the way that I felt that my walk, for example, is unique and I also felt like I needed to improve it. When you see that people are not only saying [negative things] but are saying them in a very, very hurtful way, you start to pay more attention to it.” —Gigi Hadid in Vogue