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This Awesome Teenage Girl Turned Body-Shaming Graffiti Into A Message Of Empowerment

Carleigh O’Connell turned bullying into a powerful expression of self-love.

1. Meet Carleigh O’Connell.

2. The 15-year-old Wall, N.J., resident found out that someone had spray-painted lewd graffiti about her body at a local hangout.

3. But rather than feel ashamed or upset, Carleigh took control of the situation.

Carleigh O’Connell

She went down to the graffitied rock to assess the damage herself. “I asked if she wanted me to go with her,” Carleigh’s mom Daryl told BuzzFeed. “But she went alone and when she found it, she had a friend take her photo with it.” At first, said Daryl, Carleigh posed with her face turned away from the camera. But for the second photo, Carleigh turned around and said, “I’m gonna kind of own this.”

4. “I gave it some thought,” she said, “and realized it wasn’t that big of a deal to me. I didn’t give them the power they wanted. I wanted to show whoever wrote this that I was better than that.”

Still, she’s aware that body-shaming is a huge issue for a lot of teenage girls, and she knows that it’s not as easy for most girls her age to just walk away — which is why she felt it was important to tell her story. “I do believe body image is a major issue with girls,” she told BuzzFeed. “I hope that just one person feels better about themselves after they see my story.”

5. Carleigh’s message to other girls who are being body shamed? “Be strong.”

“There are people there for you. You’re not alone,” she told BuzzFeed. “Being bullied is a very hard thing, but you don’t need to cry about it or be upset about it. There’s people out there that are there for you. And I’m one of them.”

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