An average person spends 53 minutes a day on Instagram. That’s eight months out of someone's entire lifetime spent checking for likes, follows or reading potentially hateful comments. SI Swimsuit model and entrepreneur Natalie Mariduena has built a career based off of social media engagement and has seen firsthand the harmful effects online culture can have saying, “People are sitting behind a screen and they can say whatever they want to say without consequence,” she says. “In some instances that’s great and in some instances it’s not. It’s just negative hate and I definitely go through that on a daily basis.”
Women in the public eye have long experienced excessive criticism online. Remember when Kate Upton opened up about being called "fat" after gracing the cover of SI Swimsuit? Or when Camille Kostek publicly addressed one of her body shaming trolls?
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Mariduena has learned to deal with that negativity by shifting her focus to what really matters to her. “I don’t know that person, that person does not know me, and that sucks for them because I'm really awesome and cool and amazing,” she says. “And it’s really just knowing that, literally just being confident. I have friends and family who love me and that’s what matters,” she adds. “And all these other people that don’t understand that and appreciate that, then whatever.”
Shifting her relationship to online commenters in this way allows Mariduena to continue a career that has grown in large part on social media while maintaining a strong sense of self by remembering all of her support day-to-day offline. Whether your career is built on social media or not, it’s a lesson we can all benefit from.