This blog was originally published on the Broadening Horizons blog, Tha Outlet.

When you use fashion and art as your form of self expression, it opens you up to both great admiration and extreme hate. Social media allows fashionistas the opportunity to connect with people outside their immediate surroundings and connect with others whose style they admire and become someone who is admired for their style. The downside of this interconnectedness is while the door is open for so much love and positivity; it also stays open for hate and negativity. The best way to combat hate is with love – love for yourself and love for others.

  1.  Stop Hating On Yourself

Recently while scrolling through Instagram, I saw an absolutely stunning photo of a confident plus size woman in a bikini. I immediately liked the photo but then I noticed the caption – in it, she called out the dimples on her thighs. The last thing I noticed while looking at the photo was the dimples, in fact, I had to strain to even see what she was talking about! When I saw the photo, I admired her confidence and how she styled the look but thanks to her caption, I noticed a perceived flaw I never would’ve seen. How often do you see someone apologize for something? I think it’s based in this insecurity that ‘maybe if I call this flaw out, people who see it will know, I see it too.’

I know I’ve personally as a designer felt really insecure about wearing flip flops. It sounds really silly but I’ve felt self-conscious about not wearing fashionable footwear; however, with wider than average flat feet, flip flops are more comfortable than most of the summer shoes I wear which give me blisters on the bottoms and sides of my feet. One day this summer, I stopped by a friends’ place and she wanted to take photos of me in her garments. I hadn’t planned on taking the photos so I was wearing flip flops. She took the photos and when I went to post them, my head raced with different ways to crop out my feet so people didn’t know I was wearing flip flops and when I said that to her that I was going to apologize in my caption for wearing flip flops, she looked at me like I was crazy. She told me I had nothing to apologize for and said there was no need to call attention to it. So I listened to her and she was right.

Shortly after that, I happened to listen to a podcast from Myleik Teele called “Things You Unconsciously Or Subconsciously Do That You Should Stop: Now That You’re Aware! ” and she discussed this concept of hating on yourself by saying: “I see girls post these stunning photos of themselves and then say things like ‘Oh ya know I don’t look that great’ or they post these beautiful photos and they start pointing out their flaws or what they’re not great at. If you’re not going to say something nice about yourself, just post the picture with no caption. Say nothing. We don’t want to hear you talk bad about you and you don’t need that either.”

It is really as simple as that. Don’t apologize for who you are, what you wear, what you look like or what makes you feel comfortable.

  1. Stop Hating on Other People

Every mean comment made underneath someone’s photo, article, blog post or anything else is a form of self hate. Every single time I have posted a photo of myself in a swimsuit, I receive a higher than average amount of likes than any other photo and without fail, an extremely hateful comment. The most recent comment said “I don’t get it… unhealthy lifestyle and obesity don’t have any rights to be promoted. The world is going down.” I didn’t have cell phone service when the comment was made so when I returned, I saw that my followers had went in on her for the comment. But I said nothing. From my experience as a freelance journalist, I know how tempting it is to engage these comments. Our instinct is to defend ourselves but there is strength in silence.

Whenever I see these comments, I choose not to respond. These people feel so bad about themselves that they feel the need to go out of their way to try and make someone else feel bad. I don’t think that form of self-loathing deserves any attention. To me, I would much rather give my energy to someone who comes to me openly and honestly and says they are struggling with loving themselves and being confident. In reality, that is the same feeling being masked by that mean comment. Making a mean comment doesn’t make me any less confident and at the end of the day, it won’t fill up that emptiness they feel within themselves either. If you want to be happy with yourself, look within yourself. Look for support from others by being open and honest about what you’re going through. Instead for looking for flaws in others, look at yourself and what is really causing your own unhappiness. Whether its reading books, listening to podcasts, or seeing a therapist, spend that same energy you use to find people to hate on, to find ways to seek positive inspiration instead.

The long term journey to self love is much more rewarding that the short term satisfaction gained from trying to destroy someone else. Whenever possible, choose love and not hate.

By: Alysse Dalessandro, Owner/Designer, Ready-to-Stare

 This post was originally published on August 12, 2014.