1. When a determined runner flipped the script on her hecklers.
After enduring size-based harassment on a run through her South Yorkshire, England, town, Lindsey Swift penned her heckler a searing, insightful, and ultimately (perhaps undeservedly) forgiving open letter. “Not that I have to justify my body to you, but I have a goal to run 10k, and I will get there,” she says in the post. “Here’s hoping that anyone with a goal, fat or thin, isn’t put off by this kind of thing. I know I haven’t been.”
Since then, Swift’s post has been shared nearly 30,000 times, and Swift even covered the November 2015 issue of Women’s Running magazine.
2. When a Victoria’s Secret model made it clear she was not here to perpetuate the media’s twisted narrative.
When TMZ asked model Magdalena Frackowiak what she was excited about eating after walking in the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, she didn’t take the bait. “This is stupid,” she responded, instead of discussing how she’d been depriving herself as expected. “Ask more smart questions.”
Do you need some aloe vera, dude? Because it seems to us like YA’BURNT.
3. When “Dancing Man” grooved his way into our hearts.
The odyssey of Sean O’Brien, aka Dancing Man, began when his photo (taken while O’Brien was dancing at a concert) was posted with a cruel caption on social site 4chan — but the post backfired when a group of good samaritans decided to organize an enormous dance party in his honor. Since then, O’Brien has attended a bash thrown for him, which was DJ’ed by Moby and raised $30,000 for charity, and now works with the U.K.’s Anti-Bullying Ambassador program.
4. When a Pretty Little Liar bravely spoke out about her health.
A person’s health is between them and their doctor…unless they decide to inspire hundreds of thousands of fans by going public with their struggles. That’s exactly what PLL’s Sasha Pieterse did back in June, after receiving hateful comments about her changing figure. As an influence to young people facing their own body image and other health issues, Pieterse’s candidness was incredibly inspiring.
“I have been facing a bad hormone imbalance that has thrown my body completely out of whack,” Pieterse disclosed in an Instagram post. “We live in such a judgmental society that puts every kind of flaw, including weight gain, in the same category… YOU and YOUR health are what matters, not anyone else’s opinions and assumptions of you.”
5. When a woman gave her friend — and the rest of us — the best damn parenting advice in the history of the world.
Kara Waite’s response to learning her friend’s 8-year-old daughter was being teased for her weight taught us perhaps the most important squad goal of all: the goal that we should all have someone so inspiring and positive in our (and our daughters’) lives.
“Tell her she is beautiful, but say it half as much as you say that she is kind and generous and hysterically funny and at the top of your list of favorite people,” Waite wrote on Facebook. “Tell her that the people who criticize her body have problems with their own bodies, or, worse, with their hearts and minds.”
6. When Serena Williams didn’t have time to be petty.
Following Williams’s Grand Slam win at Wimbledon this year, multiple public figures somehow thought it would be a good idea to openly express their disapproval of her body. Though Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling famously removed her earrings and prepared to throw down over the issue (and honestly, no shade in that approach either), Williams explained on Good Morning America that she’s too busy being a record-breaking athletic phenomenon to pay the haters any mind.
7. When women whose photos were stolen and altered to make them look thinner responded with pure class.
In August 2015, the since-removed Project Harpoon Facebook page manipulated images of women to look thinner. BuzzFeed News spoke with two of the women whose images were stolen — models Paulina and Ruby Roxx — both of whom responded with the kind of positivity trolls hate and the kind of empathy they realized others might need. Now THAT is beautiful.
8. When Sam Smith’s success said it all.
In January, shock jock Howard Stern paid Sam Smith perhaps the most bullshit backhanded compliment of all time when he said he loved him for being “fat,” “ugly,” and “effeminate,” and that he’d like “get him in [the studio] and congratulate him on beating the odds.” The next month, Smith won four Grammys, delivered a moving acceptance speech about his own struggles with his appearance, and proved he was so much more than Stern’s vile words.
9. When Selena Gomez got by with a little help from her friends.
When photos surfaced in April of then-22-year-old Selena Gomez at a Mexican beach, critics were quick to pick apart her appearance. Selena kept relatively quiet at the time, simply posting on social media, “I love being happy with me.”
First to respond kick-assedly to the shaming was fellow young star Abigail Breslin with an eloquent blog entry. As for Gomez, she ended up coming clean about the shaming’s effects, as well as her battle with lupus, in an October Billboard article.
10. When an X Factor judge stayed woke.
After the death of her father-in-law, singer and X Factor judge Cheryl Fernandez-Versini’s weight understandably fluctuated — but when others wouldn’t lay off and called her “too thin,” she shared a piece of her mind on Instagram.
“When a girl is just that bit too skinny in your eyes, she gets judged,” Fernandez-Versini says in the post. “It isn’t your fault you think like this. The media have told us that this size is too thin and that size is too big.”
Wrapping up her rant by encouraging followers to pursue truly important goals and accomplishments, she said, “There is so, so, so, so much more to life than having the ‘perfect body.’”
11. When a reality star took a stand against BS.
Whitney Way Thore of TLC’s My Big Fat Fabulous Life deals with a constant stream of people’s garbage on the internet and in real life alike. To help combat such negativity, she started No Body Shame (No BS) — an anti-bullying campaign particularly powerful due to its inclusion of so many different kinds of bodies.
12. When Ariana Grande stuck up for herself and for others.
You’d think Ariana Grande wouldn’t pay the haters any mind, but it’s pretty cool in this case that she did. Responding to a comment left on her Instagram that called her body unsexy and a “stick,” Grande wrote:
“We live in a day and age where people make it impossible for women, men, anyone to embrace themselves exactly how they are. [Stop] talking about people’s bodies as if they’re on display asking for your approval/opinion. They are not.”
Modern Family actress Ariel Winter, whose body was also objectified in the original comment, chimed in too, thanking Grande for her inclusive message of empowerment. But then, because no young woman is allowed to exist without absurd ridicule…
13. When Ariel Winter got shamed by her own trolls (and responded flawlessly).
When Winter posted a photo of herself recently wearing a bikini, she wasn’t expecting the creepy comments about how she “knew what she was doing” by posting the picture (um, perhaps trying to capture a cute moment with her nieces ON A BOAT, where swimsuits are generally encouraged?) and how she didn’t look 17 (eew). Being the boss that she is, Winter responded directly to the offender as well as posting a second ‘gram of her own to discuss the intersection of slut-shaming and body-shaming.
“The [length] of a girl’s skirt or whatever she is wearing for that matter, does not imply what she is asking for,” Winter wrote in the post. “You are not asking for anything because of what you are wearing- you are expressing yourself and don’t you ever think you deserve the negativity as the consequence to what you are wearing.”
14. When a woman who’d lost 190 pounds showed haters exactly what she was made of.
At 370 pounds, it’s difficult to avoid others’ negative input about your body — but imagine Simone Anderson’s surprise when, after laboring to lose half her body weight, trolls still accused her of faking it all. In response, Anderson did something many people wouldn’t: She revealed the loose skin left over from her weight loss to prove just how much she’d actually been through.
Anderson later spoke to BuzzFeed News about overcoming her feelings of vulnerability around the loose skin photo, saying, “I am proud that by having the guts to show and prove the non-believers wrong, it has actually affected people in a way I never imagined.”
15. When Gabourey Sidibe made a powerful statement about sexual assault WHILE reminding us of her queendom.
Empire actress Sidibe got a lot of flack over a November love scene on the show, which portrayed a (very rarely shown) plus-size woman actually enjoying sex with her boyfriend. Her incredible response was two-tiered: She pointed out to BuzzFeed News how critics seemed “more comfortable with the rape scene in Precious [the 2009 drama for which Sidibe won an Independent Spirit Award] than the love scene in Empire,” making a major statement about the kind of treatment audiences assume women above a certain size, from a sexual standpoint, get or deserve; and she penned a classically sassy clapback about the power of love, as well as how her celebrity schedule doesn’t leave her much time to be bothered. Damn, mama.
16. When a YouTube bully got a taste of her own medicine.
Nicole Arbour’s vitriolic video “Dear Fat People” spawned a slew of think pieces as well as response videos from Meghan Tonjes, Whitney Way Thore, Grace Helbig, and others. But perhaps the very best comeback was from filmmaker Pat Mills, who had, until the video’s posting, been in talks with Arbour about hiring her to work on his anti-bullying movie Don’t Talk to Irene.
“Did you even read my script?” Mills asked Arbour in a public statement to Zap2It. “[Don’t Talk to Irene] is a body-positive teen movie. It has a message that is in direct opposition to your cruel and lame YouTube rant. We will not be working together.”
Ooh, sorry, girl. Except, you know, not sorry.
17. When hundreds of women ate #CakeWithCashmerette.
When a troll called her body “disgusting” and advised her to “eat less cake,” Cashmerette blogger Jenny Rushmore responded with a formidably snappy Instagram post. “As you can see from this pic my life is just a sad mess,” she captioned a photo of her smiling, “so I’m glad you’ve helped steer my dietary choices, cheers!”
But her brush-off, as it turned out, was only the beginning. Because that’s when women started posting photos of themselves indulging in whatever the hell they felt like eating, along with the tag #CakeWithCashmerette — something Rushmore proudly dubbed “a definitive UP YOURS to fat-shaming, body-policing anonymous people out there.” To date, the tag has been used on over 400 Instagram posts.
18. When an illustrator turned her negative comments into positive works of art.
The way Oregon artist Rachele Cateyes sees it, there are two ways to deal with garbage people’s words: Let ‘em sink in and hurt, or use them to make something really fucking cool. The latter is exactly what she’s done with internet commenters’ anger and transparent concern trolling, using each sentiment (let’s be honest, there aren’t that many unique ones) as inspiration for her beautiful illustrations. Pretty cool to think you could turn others’ nonsense into a living for yourself, no?
19. When thousands of women chose to #RockTheCrop.
Writer Tamar Anitai was browsing a back issue of O, The Oprah Magazine this summer when she came across some offensive and outdated fashion advice. “If (and only if!) you have a flat stomach, feel free to try [a crop top],” O’s creative director, Adam Glassman, responded to a reader question about “pulling off” the garment. Anitai put a photo of the column on social media, and madness ensued.
Not to be deterred, women of all sizes began flooding Instagram with photos of themselves, marked with #RockTheCrop, absolutely slaying the crop-top trend. O’s eventual apology was underwhelming, but luckily the women in question weren’t waiting around for approval. Since its inception, the tag has spawned nearly 8,000 photos.
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