25 Famous Women on Dealing With Haters

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“The best revenge is success.” —Michelle ObamaPhoto: Getty Images; BFA

If you want to be famous, you need thick skin. No one understands this better than female celebrities — just ask Chrissy Teigen, who made her Twitter account private yesterday, or Leslie Jones, who has been fending off troll armies all year. Nearly every public figure has been unfairly criticized at some point in his or her career, so celebrities are founts of wisdom when it comes to advice on dealing with haters. Read on for advice from women like Anne Hathaway, Michelle Obama, and Tracee Ellis Ross on how they learned to shrug off the negativity from their haters and be their best selves.

Anne Hathaway

“My friends and I had an idea for Funny or Die and we wanted to do something on celebrity pregnancy rumors, so we just Googled pregnancy rumors and the story came up. The title of it was ‘Why Does Everyone Hate Anne Hathaway?’… Well, I listened [to the haters] at first. I couldn’t help it, you know? And you try to shut it off and I couldn’t, and then I realized why I couldn’t was I hadn’t learned to love myself yet. I hadn’t gotten there. And if you don’t love yourself when someone else says horrible things to you, part of you is always going to believe them. So then I was like, ‘Okay, I don’t want to believe these people. I don’t want to agree with them on any level. And I want to figure out who I am. I want to learn who I am. I don’t want to feel like I’m fragile every time I leave the house because I’m so dependent on what other people think about me.’ So, I just took a step back, and as Matthew McConaughey, my co-star in Interstellar, would say, ‘I just kept living.’ And, it’s been a really cool journey. I feel like I arrived in a place where maybe not every minute of every day, but way more than I used to, I have a tremendous amount of love and compassion for everyone else — and best of all I have it for myself, which I never enjoyed before.” The Ellen DeGeneres Show, November 2014

Tracee Ellis Ross

“A lot of what people think of me is none of my business. It kinda doesn’t matter to me. I get to follow my own bliss. I unconsciously set a really clear intention of what I wanted my job and career to be. It was the beginning of who I wanted to be and I made the choice in that moment that I was only going to continue doing acting if it was fun. It has done that.” — Vibe, March 2015

Jennifer Lopez

“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.” — Glamour, August 2010

Jessica Williams

On dealing with hateful comments

“I never get that sort of thing anymore. And if I do, I’m like, LOL. You’re stupid and I don’t care. And I’m kind of happy that you’re angry … [now] it’s less of a racial sentiment and more of an anti-feminist sentiment, and, well, good. If a man’s upset because I said something about catcalling last night, and that’s something that he wants to defend, then I’m glad that he’s upset. I’m so happy he’s upset. Good. I’ve done my job today. I just don’t care anymore.” — Bust, February/March

Miley Cyrus

“I’m just having the best time ever, and everything’s falling into place like it’s supposed to. Even people who want to hate on me, they can’t even shut down the fact that I’m literally what everyone is talking about. I don’t want to say that I’m on top right now — I feel like I’m kind of an underdog in a cool way. It’s almost punk rock to like me because it’s not the right thing to do. Like, society wants to shut me down.” — Cosmopolitan, December 2013

Patti Smith

“I did suffer when I was young was because I was sort of a hick coming into New York City. I was made fun of by a lot of the Factory people. Even Andy Warhol thought I was a hick. I met these people and I had to be strong. I had to either be crushed by these people or chop my hair up like Keith Richards and say, ‘Fuck you.’ But that scrutiny is hurtful, and the rumor mill, the constant bullshit, speculations about your personal life must be very difficult. But in the end, all of that is peripheral. What will remain 20, 30 years from now — all those people and their snarky comments and their projections will be forgotten — but if your work continues to grow and you do great work, that’s what will be remembered. It’s all about work in the end.” — Interview, February 2015

Hillary Rodham Clinton

“People can judge me for what I’ve done. And I think when somebody’s out in the public eye, that’s what they do. So I’m fully comfortable with who I am, what I stand for, and what I’ve always stood for.” — PBS NewsHour, June 2014

Michelle Obama

“Well, when it comes to social media, there are just times I turn off the world, you know. 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.” — The United State of Women Summit, June 2016

Kim Kardashian West

“I don’t do drugs, I hardly drink, I’ve never committed a crime — and yet I’m a bad role model for being proud of my body? I am empowered by my body. I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin. It’s 2016. The body-shaming and slut-shaming — it’s like, enough is enough. I will not live my life dictated by the issues you have with my sexuality. You be you and let me be me.” — KimKardashianWest.com, March 2016

Constance Wu

“Defying stereotype for the sake of bucking against stereotype and not for the sake of the story … well, that is just another form of cowering to the haters. We didn’t get into this to please the haters. We got into this to tell our stories because they matter and because honestly, these fucking haters probably made us feel shame for these same stories when we were younger, but now we are older and have a firmer stance on this earth and in our own voices. Those very same fucking people who made fun of our parents’ accents contributed to us feeling embarrassed by our parents when really, we shouldn’t have been embarrassed because our parents know two languages. That’s actually a cool thing! They know a language that is both phonetic, like English is, and one that is ideographic, like Chinese is, and tonal. Do you know how hard that is? But when we were kids in a majority-non-Asian schoolyard — which is a uniquely Asian American experience, not a mainland-Chinese experience — we were shamed about that.” — Lenny Letter, October 2015

Gwyneth Paltrow

“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?” — Code Conference 2014, May 2014

Grimes

“You will never hear more people tell you that you’re wrong than when you’re succeeding. After my album Visions came out, I spent a really long time freaking out because people were telling me that in order to take ‘the next step’ in my career, I would have to become a much better ‘musician,’ that I’d need a backing band, etc. I now realize that (a) none of those people have music careers, and (b) I wasted a lot of time trying to do things I was told were ‘important for every professional musician’ to do, without realizing that as a fan, I am far more interested in things that I’ve never seen before. The point is, listening to haters is pointless. People are judgmental about everything — often because they feel threatened. Ignore them. I think this applies to any business or creative thing, because tomorrow’s world will not look like today’s. Doing something different is probably better than doing the same things that other people do.” — ROOKIE YEARBOOK THREE, October 2014

Tina Fey

“If you ever start to feel too good about yourself, they have this thing called the internet. You can find a lot of people there who don’t like you. I’d like to address some of them now. BabsonLacrosse, you can suck it. DianeFan, you can suck it. Cougar Letter, you can really suck it ’cause you’ve been after me all year. And to my husband Jeff, I love you and thank you.” — Golden Globes acceptance speech, January 2009

Margaret Cho

“How do I survive getting torn down every day? My advice is don’t read the online comments. Be emboldened to be yourself and not listen to the hater trolls.” — the Toronto Star, April 2015

Gigi Hadid

“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.” — Vogue, September 2015

Lena Dunham

“Listen, I totally leave room for people to be irritated by me. They were irritated by me from second through 12th grade. I know the feeling dearly. I said to my boyfriend once at a very low moment, ‘This isn’t that different from second grade. People have always been trying to pick on me! Always! But I try not to be that self-pitying. I’ve tried to analyze it, but then I kind of realized that it’s not my job to understand, and it almost wouldn’t be healthy for me to understand. The best thing I can do is be of service to other women and people who are experiencing similar things, and if I can be a guide to other outspoken, creative women, that’s the best thing I can do rather than try and understand the segment of the internet that responds to me negatively.” — The Daily Beast, January 2015

Taylor Swift

“‘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.’” — Billboard, October 2014

Gabby Douglas

“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.” — ESPN, August 2016

Cheryl Strayed

“Sometimes I’m asked how I deal with the haters. I don’t deal with them. I pity them. I don’t expect everyone to love my books. In fact, I frankly expect the opposite. (In the history of books, there isn’t one everyone loves.) But I must say I marvel at the ugliness it takes to gather one’s forces in the direction of what one loathes rather than loves — to go out of one’s way to say to a writer: YOU SUCK. So I send out a little silent non-God-connected prayer to the jackass who felt the need to share his or her jack-assed-ness with me. And then, without comment, I zap them forever from this page.” — Facebook, October 2013

Leslie Jones

“I need everyone to know that I’ve been through enough in my life. Nothing will stop me!! Especially hate! I am a WARRIOR! Don’t forget that!” — Twitter, July 2016

Mindy Kaling

“The most valuable thing I learned from Kim Kardashian is that your arm must never lie flat against your body … I remember hearing her say that when you put your hand on your hip, it makes your arm look thinner and draws attention to your waist. I tried it and I loved it! … I guess I was doing it a lot, because a blogger decided to write about it. This blogger had been semi-regularly writing mean stuff about me, and this snarky post was called ‘Mindy Kaling Sure Likes to Pose with Her Hand on Her Hip.’ The post contained a bunch of photos of me from separate red-carpet events with my hand on my hip. When I first saw it, I felt so bad and embarrassed. What does this observation mean about me? It must mean I’m vapid or, like, really lame or aspirational or something. Then I realized it meant absolutely nothing at all … And then I thought, Wow, this poor sad guy. I pictured all the time he must have spent scouring through photos of me to find the ones where my hand was on my hip … Which brings me to another thing I learned from Kim Kardashian: Haters are just more people paying attention to you.” — Why Not Me?, September 2015

Melissa McCarthy

“All those comments — ‘You’re ruining my childhood!’ I mean, really. Four women doing any movie on earth will destroy your childhood? I have a visual of those people not having a Ben [Falcone, her husband], not having friends, so they’re just sitting there and spewing hate into this fake world of the internet. I just hope they find a friend.” —The Guardian, May 2016

Selena Gomez

“I get picked on by grown adults all the time. It’s grown-ups and I don’t get it. It just baffles me. I wish I could just sit them down and say, ‘What were you doing at 15? What were you doing at 18? What were you doing at 21?’ Because I can guarantee you it’s not half of what I’ve done.’ Trust me, it’s hard. I’ve had my moments where I’ve let them get to me but I refuse to let them win.” — E! Online, October 2014

Beyoncé

“Since Destiny’s Child first came out, we’ve always had criticism … [B’Day] is nothing compared to some of the criticism that we’ve gotten. I’m pretty strong and I’m very confident in what I do … I had had a lot of people love the record, it was very successful. I had a lot of fans and a lot of people loved everything, the videos and the songs, and then of course, everyone’s different, there were people who didn’t like it. There were people who didn’t like my first album, there will be people who won’t like my next album. And that’s just human nature, I can’t expect everyone to love everything that I do.” — The Associated Press, July 2007

Gabourey Sidibe

“To people making mean comments about my GG pics, I mos def cried about it on that private jet on my way to my dream job last night. #JK.” — Twitter, January 2014

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