A Facebook post about one woman’s experience at Mt. Maunganui Beach in New Zealand went viral for its strong reaction to misogynistic men who mocked a woman’s sartorial choices during her day at the beach.
Shelley decided to wear a bikini, as one does when it is hot and you are at a beach. Some men also at the beach teased her for it.
Bless her, she said: aw hell no, and refused to be knocked down by the demeaning comments they made.
Instead, Shelley posted on Facebook in a long rant about why her body is her body and they have no right to tell her how they feel about it.
“It’s because of people like you that women especially don’t feel safe or confident or comfortable to go out in society in something like a bikini, or a crop top (they probably aren’t even called that anymore!) or a short dress, or with their midriff showing. It’s because of people like you that people starve themselves and make themselves sick in an attempt to maintain a ‘model-like figure’. It’s because of people like you that people wear long sleeves all-year-round because they are scared to show their arms. It’s because people like you that people become anorexic, obese, bulimic, self-harm, commit suicide…”
Shelley warns those who make fun of anyone who is outside the “acceptable” range of human weight; she explains that people of all shapes live with self-loathing every day and that an unkind word from a stranger may be that push that sends them over an edge.
“So next time you see someone like me on the beach in a bikini or in a situation similar, before you laugh and point, take a moment to think about the damage you may just do, because not every person, young or old, male or female, will have learned to have the thick skin, or the resilience, or the self-confidence, that I do to brush it off. I won’t lie, there was a split second that I almost quickly covered up again, and then I reminded myself of all I have learned on this journey, and I held my head high and stuck my belly out and wore that bikini with pride.”
People applauded Shelley’s post. It went viral on Facebook and she took the opportunity to remind parents to teach kids to love their bodies.
“Parents, I urge you to teach your children that there is no one body shape, but instead that there is a rainbow of beautiful bodies. I urge you to teach them not to stare directly at a bigger stomach than they might be accustomed to seeing on TV or in society, but instead, to look at a persons face and into their eyes. I urge you to teach them to be kind to all types of people, regardless of their outer appearance. I urge you to teach your children to accept people for exactly who they are on the inside. And I urge you to teach your children to be role models to those around them who aren’t being taught this, and to be the positive change we need to see in the world, so that in 5 or 10 or 20 years time, no more people are pointed at and laughed at by the way they look when they wear a bikini on the beach.”
According to ThriveGlobal, 91 percent of women are unhappy with their bodies and put themselves on diets. Even more horrific, 81 percent of ten year olds are afraid of being fat; they were more afraid of being fat than cancer, war, or losing their parents. And adolescents with negative body images are more likely to have depression, anxiety, and an increased risk of suicide.