A couple weeks ago, 20-year-old La'Shaunae Steward from Charleston, South Carolina, posted a series of photos of herself to her Instagram.
Steward told BuzzFeed News that she shared the photos as she was super proud of the skirt — which she'd hand-frayed — and her T-shirt, which is printed with the logo of the skateboarding magazine Thrasher.
Shortly after Steward shared the photos, they were taken by people who turned them into a hurtful meme.
Steward said the meme and subsequent mean comments made her feel extremely anxious. She was hurt to be targeted just because of her body and the brand of clothing she chose to wear.
"I've been wanting to learn how to skate for such a long time — since I was a teenager — and I've always been scared of being 'too fat,'" she said. "I was bullied from elementary to high school, so this is what this situation felt like all over again."
People quickly rushed to defend Steward.
The trolling was highlighted by model Reece King, who retweeted the meme but praised Steward instead.
Soon her Instagram was full of positive and supportive comments from people who were angered by the meme.
Another Twitter user, @cheesethedog, drew "the iconic" Steward in tribute to her. The drawing also went viral.
Steward said she loved the artwork and it was "a huge fuck-you" to her trolls. It's inspired her to keep pushing to achieve her dreams.
"This entire situation has made me realize even more about myself. I'm a super strong girl," she said. "A lot of them have been telling me that I'm too fat to get paid from modeling and made a lot of assumptions about me, but I'm not going to quit."
Ultimately, Steward said she has risen above her haters, and pities those "looking lame and only getting attention from harassing people who aren't bothering you."
"So it will always be better to just respect people, and to just be a nice person, instead of being so disgusted by fat people that you have to steal their photos to harass them on another platform," she said. "It will never be cool and it just makes you a dick."
Rachael Krishna is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Rachael Krishna at email@example.com.
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