When 24-year-old food blogger Jordan Younger—AKA The Blonde Vegan who became The Balanced Blonde—announced that she was giving up veganism as part of her battle with orthorexia last June, the backlash was quick to erupt, and it wasn’t easy for her to take.
“In the beginning, the criticism was terrible. It affected me so much that I couldn’t sleep at night, and I would lay awake panicking,” Younger remembers. “It affected the way that I thought about myself and made me question my decisions. I worried about whether or not I had just ruined my entire brand.”
Younger had about 70,000 Instagram followers at the time (she now has about 100,000), and while she received many messages of support, she says there was a lot of hateful commentary, which was hard to take. She’s talking online vitriol “like being told I’m a hypocrite, a murderer, and that I’m fat and disgusting,” some which she says came from the ethical vegan community, and even death threats.
Now a Brentwood, Los Angeles, resident with a memoir, Breaking Vegan, due out this fall, she says that while she’s still learning to cope, the experience forced her to develop a thick skin, and her own healthy toolkit for dealing with haters.
“I’d never experienced so much adversity in my entire life, but it actually turned out to be something I learned from,” she says. “It really forced me…to reflect and ask myself why I made this decision and if I’m being true to myself. It forced me to think [about] if what I was doing is worth it. And yeah, it was, and is, worth it.”
Since we all deal with negativity and criticism in some way or another, whether from a manipulative ex or a mean girl at work, we asked Younger to share a few insights on how she learned to deal with haters without succumbing to self-loathing behaviors, and you can, too.
1. Check your decision. “Some people might have a really good reason for disagreeing with you,” Younger says. Instead of immediately lashing out, think about that argument and give yourself time to reconsider if you made the right choice. Then, you’ll be open to changing your mind or you’ll be confident in your choice and ready to defend it. “If you really think about it and haven’t just made some haphazard decision, you can’t go wrong,” she says.
2. Communicate clearly. When someone verbally attacks you, try laying out your situation or decision in an even more clear way. A lot of the negativity in Younger’s case, she says, “came from people who didn’t understand my particular situation with an eating disorder.” So she got really good at short, simple, and matter of fact ways of talking about it. (That can help you stay out of defensive or over-explaining mode, too.)
3. Reach out to friends and family. “It can feel like the people criticizing you have a much louder voice than the people supporting you,” Younger explains. Just because those who love you aren’t banging down your door doesn’t mean they don’t want to help. You might have to let them know what’s going on for you and ask them to get your back. “Remember that you’re not alone,” she says. Reach out to people to talk or for hugs and to remind you that who you are is bigger than this crisis.
4. Find a mantra that gives you confidence. “A lot of the work I did happened on the inside. I went through mantra after mantra until I found one that stuck,” says Younger, who also practiced yoga to handle the hater situation and quiet her mind. “My favorite is ‘Today, you are perfect.’ It focuses on the present moment and nothing else. It helps me from obsessing about the future or rehashing the past. And the word ‘perfect’ doesn’t mean perfection in the sense that it once did to me, it means that I am perfect just as I am, flaws included.” —Jamie McKillop
For more information, visit www.theblondevegan.com
(Right Photo: Jordan Younger via The Balance Blonde)
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