ColumnWhat’s the best way to fight back against body-shaming bullies? Put your ass into it!
The fastest way to make a girl feel bad is to make fun of her body.
Forty-seven percent of girls in 5th-12th grade say they want to lose weight because of magazine pictures, according to The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Related Disorders.
You can veto women’s magazines from your home, but short of forcing your daughter to live under a rock, it’s impossible to keep girls from absorbing societal messages about what they are “supposed to look like.” And, with added pressure from classmates, it’s easy to understand why so many people (20 million women and 10 million men) have eating disorders.
Carleigh O’Connell, an awesome 14-year-old from New Jersey, found that some of her classmates spray-painted a rock with: “Carleigh’s ass.”
The message Carleigh was supposed to receive, internalize and—possibly—struggle with for decades to come is that her butt is too big. Instead, she posed with the graffiti wearing a bikini, showing off her tush and smiling.
Then, she posted the photo of herself on Instagram and asked her mom to put it on Facebook. Her mom posted it with this note (you can read her whole post here): “My daughter heard that her “rear end” “figure” “body shape” ….you can see the description for yourself in the photo ….was made fun of on a big rock at the beach. Well….it was true. She found it and knew it was hers since her name has a very distinct spelling. Many kids at school told her about it. We talked about it. And while she was upset, she told me she was going to make something good out of it.”
Cheers to Carleigh and her mom for taking control of the situation and turning it into something positive. With mean girls firmly entrenched in most schools, #thinspiration everywhere and oh-so coveted thigh gaps being photoshopped in so often that it’s easy to forget that not everyone has one, it’s hard out there for a girl.
Carleigh’s reaction and willingness to share her photo shows that one person can shift the conversation.
“I wanted to show whoever decided to write that that I was stronger than that,” she told TODAY.com. “It didn’t impact me at all. I didn’t put my head down, I didn’t cry about it. I didn’t give the kids the power they wanted.”
“It felt very empowering,” she added.
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