This model had the perfect response to a troll who called her 'ghetto'
Salem Mitchell, a model from New York, was recently featured on Vogue's Instagram page - but not every user was as supportive as you would hope.
The photo, which showed Mitchell on the beach in a red one-piece suit, received many positive responses, with comments such as "You're radiant!" and "Freckles on point".
However, it was soured a little by a number of less-than-positive replies, including one user who referred to her as "ghetto". Posting to her Instagram Stories, Salem screenshot the comment and posted the perfect response:
“The reason black women/poc fight so hard for representation, diversity, and over cultural appropriation is because of this!
"Everything about what I look like is considered ‘trendy’ in the media and in fashion right now. The freckles, the braids, the big lips, etc. But on a black woman it’s ghetto for NO reason and we’re tired of it.”
So, why was this the response she decided to reply to, rather than the other trolls who harshly criticised her appearance?
Speaking to Teen Vogue earlier this week, Mitchell explained her motivations between calling this particular commenter out:
“I wanted to speak out on this particular comment because it was completely discriminatory [and] completely racist. It wasn’t, ‘I think she’s ugly’ or ‘I don’t like this photo.’ It was, ‘By looking at this woman the first way I can describe her is by calling her a ghetto person.’
"Calling me ghetto or any black woman ghetto based on a photo is so dismissive of who we are as people, what we’ve accomplished, and how we carry ourselves.”
Beyond this, she spoke about the issue of cultural appropriation, and its importance considering the frequency with which black and brown people are demonised for their characteristics.
“Another thing people don’t understand is cultural appropriation is not about not wanting to share things with others — it’s not about wanting to take ownership over certain styles and deciding who gets to wear what," the model explained. "It’s about black and brown people not receiving the same human respect simply because of their appearance when white people are praised for it.”
In the interview, Mitchell explained how conversations about serious issues can often spark off things spread online. With a platform of over 200,000 followers, she has the chance to fight the stereotypes and start a conversation that will "move closer to progress".
Mitchell does think that we should all stand up for what we believe in, but that doesn't mean responding to every troll who feels the need to get nasty:
“My advice for speaking up for yourself on social media is to be extremely careful and sure of what situations deserve your time and energy. If someone is calling me ugly or they don’t like my photos, I ignore things like that.
"Everyone has opinions — whether they’re negative or positive — and we’re all ugly to somebody so situations like those aren’t really worthy of my time.”
At the end of the day, for Salem, some issues can't be ignored - especially when they affect a large group of people:
“It’s really important to speak up when the issues are probably affecting more than just me.
"When people make negative comments about freckles, I speak up because although I’m confident, other young girls with freckles might see those nasty comments and feel bad about their own skin. When people say ignorant things like the ‘ghetto’ comment, I speak up because I know other girls are hearing [it] in their own lives too.
"Overall it’s best to save your energy and speak up when you know it’ll benefit more than just your own ego.”
Aside from being great at her job, Salem has managed to use her platform to stand up for what she believes in. In addition to that, her nuanced take on how to respond to trolls online is respectable too, and worth us all taking to heart.