Concern Trolling

Seemingly “nice” behaviour that is actually a sign of subtle manipulation


In this article, I am going to talk about subtle manipulation and how many people use it as a weapon to prevent others from outshining them, or keep their ego in check. I’ll start out by writing about a few instances where my friends tried to lower my self-confidence by pretending to be “concerned” about me. Then, I will discuss what exactly is concern trolling and how we can protect ourselves from getting squashed under it.

“Hi, I’m ready. Let’s go.”

“Okay — umm — are you sure you want to wear that?”

I look down at the ash-coloured gown I had chosen for the night. It looked alright to me. “Umm, yes? Why, what’s wrong?”

“Well, don’t you think it is a little too tight?”

“Umm, no. I think it’s okay.”

“Well, you know, you’re a little — chubby — so, you don’t want to come across as screaming for attention with that tight dress.”

“No, I am perfectly okay wearing this. Let’s go.”

“But are you sure? You could easily wear something that is looser and doesn’t leave so little to the imagination?”

“I’ll wear this. Thanks.”

“You see, you have just had a break-up. You don’t want the world to think you are desperate for some attention by wearing clothes like that, do you?”

“Look, I am comfortable wearing this and I do not think it is too tight or attention-seeking in any way. Also, since when did my clothes start giving off the message that I am desperate for a man?”

“I didn’t mean that. It’s just that — I am worried about you and I want you to feel safe and comfortable, no matter what.”

“Do you think I am screaming for attention by wearing this dress?”

“No no, of course not. I just thought you should know, that’s it.”

“Are you going to eat all that rice by yourself?”

“Yes. Is there anything wrong?”

“No, I mean, it is rice, after all.”

“Yeah, so?”

“You know rice contains a lot of carbohydrates. It can make you gain a lot of weight. And let’s face it, you don’t need any more fattening.”

“Are you calling me fat?”

“No no, I’m not. I am just saying you probably shouldn’t eat that much rice. I am only worried about you, so I thought I should be honest.”

What is concern trolling?

This camouflaged way of manipulating others into questioning their life choices is very common, especially among women when it comes to eating, clothing, or their dating choices. The internet has even coined a term for this subtle form of shaming: Concern Trolling.

How can you know someone is concern trolling you?

Concern trolling is incredibly common in discussions of obesity when critics use health concerns to shame plus-size individuals. “You think you’re doing the ‘right thing’ … But you’re just perpetuating a negative stereotype and an uneducated view,” Bustle’s Courtney Mina wrote in an open letter to Internet trolls. It’s also frequently used as a form of slut-shaming. For example, a concern troll could claim they’re sex-positive, but they would use worries about STIs and the possibility of sexual assault as a way to look down on someone who is sexually active. Of course, these are just a few common examples — a concern troll’s possibilities are endless.

How to deal with it?

The best way out is to ignore the trollers. Or better still, smile and agree to whatever they were saying, then continue doing your thing anyway. Nothing infuriates a troller more than the knowledge that they don’t have the power to hurt you.

PS: This is the dress I was wearing which my friend thought was “too tight” and “screaming for attention”.

I think it is perfectly okay, break-up or not, don’t you?

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3x Author, Engineer, 2x Quora Top Writer. I make videos about self-improvement, body positivity & feminism on YT & IG. | IG: anangsha_

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