Real Life

Changing my IG Handle

Seems silly right. Why is this such a big deal? Truth is, I started getting HORRIBLE messages starting 6 months ago about my Instagram handle. I was so confused why people were being rude about the name. I was in shock & clueless. Initially I decided to ignore the haters. Then about 3 months ago, it became a weekly thing. Some messages were awful, some sincere. My initial response was to be defensive. I mean this was my brand after all. It was something I poured my life into. One day I randomly checked my business Facebook page and it was flooded with nasty comments. I hadn’t responded to any of them, yet people were arguing back and forth on my post. Worst of all, it was a paid campaign that a brand was running an ad for. I was mortified. I also felt like I was being attacked and was sick to my stomach over the whole thing. I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

A few of the comments:

“Just because cool white people think it’s not racist, that doesn’t make it not racist. Please educate yourself. – a thankful Romani person”

“Can I please stop seeing these ads? Like so many other people have said, gypsy is an ethnic slur. I won’t buy this product.”

“Gypsy is now considered an ethnic slur. Maybe consider a rebrand, darling. I had to do it, too. Tragic but the Roma are a people who have been marginalized for millennia. Don’t perpetuate.”

I’m reading some of the rougher comments now, and my anxiety is skyrocketing. All the sudden a hurtful word I had no clue about, was giving people an excuse to hurt me. Hurt people, hurt people, right? Even though I was devastated at the time, it gave me empathy for how hurtful this word could be to people. Also just a gentle reminder that we can always choose to be kind, especially when teaching others.

Seems silly right. Why is this such a big deal? Truth is, I started getting HORRIBLE messages starting 6 months ago about my Instagram handle. I was so confused why people were being rude about the name. I was in shock & clueless. Initially I decided to ignore the haters. Then about 3 months ago, it became a weekly thing. Some messages were awful, some sincere. My initial response was to be defensive. I mean this was my brand after all. It was something I poured my life into. One day I randomly checked my business Facebook page and it was flooded with nasty comments. I hadn’t responded to any of them, yet people were arguing back and forth on my post. Worst of all, it was a paid campaign that a brand was running an ad for. I was mortified. I also felt like I was being attacked and was sick to my stomach over the whole thing. I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

A few of the comments (some nice, some not so nice):

“Just because cool white people think it’s not racist, that doesn’t make it not racist. Please educate yourself. – a thankful Romani person”

“Can I please stop seeing these ads? Like so many other people have said, gypsy is an ethnic slur. I won’t buy this product.”

“Gypsy is now considered an ethnic slur. Maybe consider a rebrand, darling. I had to do it, too. Tragic but the Roma are a people who have been marginalized for millennia. Don’t perpetuate.”

I’m reading some of the rougher comments now, and my anxiety is skyrocketing. All the sudden a hurtful word I had no clue about, was giving people an excuse to hurt me. Hurt people, hurt people, right? Even though I was devastated at the time, it gave me empathy for how hurtful this word could be to people. Also just a gentle reminder that we can always choose to be kind, especially when teaching others.

Here’s a few personal reasons why I’m changing my name from @gypsykait to @kaitgmiller (my blog will now be called “With Love, Kait”). BTW these are in NO particular order.

  1. My mental health. I’m saving myself the hassle of defending myself and having anxiety over hateful comments. Even the anxiety of wondering if I’m right or wrong. I also do not want to offend anyone. I know people get overly offended these days, but I believe that this really could be hurtful. Changing my name means freedom to move forward without fear or doubt.
  2. It’s easier to change than to be right or wrong or constantly fight about something. I always want to be open to learning. I love this quote I stumbled on recently, “People will say, ‘You’ve changed.’ And that’s supposed to be derogatory. But you are supposed to change all the time.” -Miley Cyrus. I really believe you can’t change without being open.
  3. Know better, do better. I’m growing, learning, and making the best decisions I can. I want to spread positivity. Even though my intentions were innocent, words have power. I was using gypsy to represent travel & style, which is what Western culture did to the name. Gypsy technically isn’t a style, but a word of Romani people- people that were killed by Hitler. Again- mind blown. This article written by a Romani girl completely changed perspective. A bit extreme, but I get her point.
  4. If I can make people feel safer and included, why not take the opportunity. #WWJD. Especially as a white female in society, it’s important that I recognize that I can’t pick and choose what words hurt or don’t hurt people. This word was used against a group of people, but not people like me. I just want to respect their pain over my comfort. Social change is about listening, not being defensive. I love this message someone sent me on Instagram “We need to listen to those we hurt, believe them, make change, and ask others who look like us and have our level of privilege to change.”
  5. Partnerships with brands

I get both sides. Truly I do. We can’t shame people for something they don’t know. I understand, but at the end of the day, it’s a simple fix for me and one that puts something controversial to rest.

If you want to read about the word “gypsy“, here’s the article. I also want so apologize for anyone that I offended or hurt. I am so sorry- this was never what I intended, and I want you to know I hear you.

Thanks for your love, support and letting me be so honest. I really appreciate all the messages and the conversations from yesterday. I am beyond thankful for this community.

With love,

Kait

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