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Followers do not equal fans

Most of my followers are fans who are inspired by my work or appreciative and supportive of it. But sometimes, people who don’t even follow you, leave nasty comments on multiple posts.

This is part and parcel of social media. I now find trolls funny.

Of course some comments tap into insecurities that you already have about yourself. If you read these on a bad day, they could affect you. But I have a rule for negative comments that keeps me sane. If I cry about them, it will be only for an hour or two and then I will let it go. I have to experience the pain and validate my own emotions because I am human.

Often the people who leave hate comments say that I talk about inclusivity and diversity because I am obese. They say that I am promoting obesity and making bigger bodies normal and that I need to go die because I’m making unhealthy habits normal. Sometimes people call me ‘bhains’ (cow). Others say I am too ugly to be a content creator. On my swimsuit pictures, people leave comments on different parts of my body. There are comments about my parents and boyfriend too.

Anxiety runs in my family, so I know that if I suppress my feelings, I will have panic attacks. I have had panic attacks several times since I’ve been on social media.

So sometimes, I call out trolls and try to understand their perspective, but most of the time, I don’t indulge them. If I see something truly bad, I draft a respectful response which is empathetic to the person trying to spread the hate because I know that’s coming from a place of hurt and unacceptance in their personal life. Often these people are fans who want to talk; they send hate comments for attention. Trolls now inspire me to make content.

Knowing a post could offend some followers is a real stress factor for me. I have a recurring nightmare that I’m at a meet-up, surrounded by many followers, and something really bad happens and I fight with somebody and the entire thing is posted online blows by career to sh*t. Social media creators are not really allowed to have human moments in public. Being a public figure has its own set of responsibilities. But you are still human and bound to make mistakes, so people need to be more forgiving. If we make mistakes, tell us, confront us. But don’t cancel us. Cancel culture is really depressing.

Sakshi Sindwani is one of India’s first plus-sized fashion content creators, who appeared in HT Brunch on May 9, 2021.

(As told to Karishma Kuenzang.)

From HT Brunch, October 10, 2021

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