Health & Fit: What Happened When A Woman Complimented The Trolls Who Body-Shamed Her - - PressFrom - US
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Health & Fit What Happened When A Woman Complimented The Trolls Who Body-Shamed Her

00:13  01 november  2017
00:13  01 november  2017 Source:   huffingtonpost.com

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There are plenty of ways to handle trolls who leave hateful comments on the internet. Some people choose to ignore and some block, while others retaliate.

Lexie Manion, a New Jersey-based body positivity activist, took a road less traveled: She decided to compliment people who left hateful comments on a recent photo.

The 22-year-old received a slew of nasty comments and messages about her body and weight after she shared a side-by-side photo of herself on October 6, she wrote at Cosmo UK.

As a woman, I feel so much pressure to look put together and well-dressed every single day. As a plus size woman, I feel that pressure even more so than when I was a straight size. I think part of that is because there are plus size women out there who have hid their bodies under baggy clothes for long periods of time - whether it be because we were ashamed to show our bodies or because we didn't have access to clothes we like that fit. Another part of this reasoning is because people judge. I already have a strike against me for going out in public as a fat person; I'm looked down upon and shamed. And I get another strike if I'm not dressed well. This world cares so much about image, so sometimes we have to conform to the pressures. Because as a woman, if I'm not wearing makeup, I'm told I look 'sick' and 'tired', and maybe even 'ugly'. As a woman, if I'm wearing a simple and comfy outfit, I'm not 'trying hard enough'. As a plus size woman, if I'm wearing comfy clothes, I'm seen as 'not trying hard enough' too, but even more so because I'm fat. In many people's eyes, fat equals lazy/unhealthy/gross. So it's another strike of judgment when I'm not putting all my effort into that day's look. And especially now that I have embraced my body as a fat person, people also expect me to ALWAYS be wearing risqué clothing. I'm here to tell you to eff the rules. If you want to wear something baggy (I do for comfort or on days I don't want to stand out), you are no less confident or worthy. You don't HAVE to always look like a 10. What matters is that you feel like a 10, or that you are working towards that number (because you deserve to feel good about yourself!). We may have days we don't want to wear makeup, or form fitting clothing, or more risqué outfits. That doesn't mean that we hate ourselves or that we were faking being confident all along. It just means whatever because it simply doesn't matter. You don't have to wear sheer clothing, less clothing or tight clothing (unless you want to!) to prove you are confident or body positive. Confidence isn't just how we look; it can also be seen in how we speak, and in how we treat ourselves and others.

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Responding to the misguided notion that plus-size women must only be truly comfortable with their bodies if they wear revealing clothing, she posted photos of herself in a sheer top and a regular top, noting she felt confident in both outfits.

I used to shy away from the "you're glorifying obesity" argument. Those words made me feel ashamed because they made me question what I was doing. "Am I sharing a message I'm proud of?" "Am I doing the right thing?" And ultimately, "Am I glorifying obesity?" I see now that I am glorifying obesity. And I say that with pride now rather than hiding my face out of shame. And if this offends you, I want you to consider this: I'm unhealthy, but what does that have to do with my worth as a human being? It might take some time to unlearn what you've been taught, or maybe your willfulness will make that impossible, but to me, one's weight has absolutely nothing to do with their worth. I am a relatively good person, I don't intentionally hurt others and if I do, I apologize, I spread love and kindness, I am working hard to be healthier mentally and physically, I'm a good friend, I'm compassionate, and I also happen to be fat. Why does my appearance matter so much to you - a stranger on the internet who doesn't know me or care about my well-being beyond my social media profile - that all these good qualities about myself are demolished once you know what I look like? To me, if you're a relatively good person, you have worth and you are worthy of good things. I also believe that me showing up and living freely despite what critics say is revolutionary. Standing out in a fat body in this day and age is brave. Because we live in a society that shames and dehumanizes those who are deemed "too fat". We are constantly seen as unworthy and useless, so us taking back the power and realizing our own worth is everything. Challenging beauty standards and the systems that have been put in place that prevent fat people from living freely is a revolution. I hope one day it's not; I hope one day we can all just let people be and focus on ourselves. But, today, it is. So here I am. I glorify obesity. I also glorify getting physically and mentally healthier as I have been working on my fitness, and doing hard work in therapy. And I am proud to be glorifying love, rather than hate.

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When some commenters responded with hateful words, she first contemplated making her account private, blocked the trolls and responded to each one. But she wrote that she was still left feeling frustrated and “powerless,” so she began directly messaging them with “genuine” compliments about things like their smile or outfit.

“Though I had low expectations, I hoped the people would be forced to acknowledge they’d trolled a real and compassionate person, then be inspired to think twice in the future before bullying me or another stranger,” she wrote.

Manion said she only got “a handful” of responses to her compliments, but those who did write back again were no longer hateful.

“This made me feel like I had made some sort of an impact, while helping me cope in a way that felt authentic to me,” she wrote.

Manion told HuffPost that giving out the compliments was a challenge at first, but got easier over time. One exchange was especially eye-opening.

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“I messaged a girl who had commented to me, ‘Gross. Still gross,’” she said. “I messaged her saying that I loved the spelling of her name, that it was so unique and pretty, and she replied, ‘Aw, thank you! I love yours too!’ I think that interaction was very interesting because it seemed like they didn’t register I was the same person they commented a rude remark to only a few hours ago. I think that interaction goes to show that there is a huge disconnect on social media.

“People think they can say and do what they want, but nothing on the internet is ever anonymous. That girl’s profile had her name attached to it, along with photos of herself, but I believe people tend to think their words and actions don’t have consequences on the internet. It is so easy to type something out and [send] it. It is worlds different from saying something to someone’s face.”

There’s no one best way to handle trolls, but science suggests Manion’s method does have benefits. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Social Psychology tested the impact acts of kindness have on one’s own happiness. Participants were split into three groups for 10 days, with one group engaging in daily acts of kindness, another trying something new each day and the third given no instructions. People in the groups that tried something new or delivered acts of kindness “experienced a significant ― and roughly equal ― boost in happiness,” according to the study, while the third group experienced no change at all.

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Tonight I walked my pups with my mom. Those walks are about a mile long. It's been so incredibly hard to exercise for that long at once but it's an accomplishment for me that even when my lower back starts hurting, and even when I get tired and out of breath, I keep on walking. My goal with that is to do the walk one day with little to no pain and to do it effortlessly. By the way, I was in a very similar out-of-shape place when I was skinny too. So no, skinny didn't equal healthy for me. Skinny does not always equal healthy for everyone. In terms of strength and ability, I was no better physically at a size 10 than I am at a size 24. A n y w a y ... As I'm in recovery from an eating disorder, I'm never going to make a goal around a weight or a size. I have more control over my own life and journey now, which may mean less control over the numbers, but that also means more freedom. I'm basing my health and recovery off of how I feel - mentally, emotionally and physically. After the walk tonight, I got home and cried. I don't really know why I cried. I think it has to do with how I hold in emotions though - that's still something I work hard to unlearn every day. Maybe feeling better physically made my body realize I was holding onto things that were harming me emotionally. Though I don't like crying and I didn't love walking a mile today, after both experiences, I felt better. That's not to say exercise will alleviate depression and negative things for every single person. And that's certainly not to say it will fix everything. Because me getting more in shape will not fix everything. I've got to work hard still in so many aspects in my life. And there will always be things beyond my control in life. However, if I can continue choosing to help myself, reaching out for help, and listening to what my mind and body need, I think it's just another step in the right direction. I don't think it's THE step. But it is a piece to the puzzle. Moral of the story: you don't need to change overnight. And you don't need to change at all. However, you can grow. So keep working towards your goals and keep growing with the support of those who love you. You can do it.

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“The success of kind acts may be due to the potential element of novelty counteracting adaption effects,” wrote study authors Anat Bardi, a senior lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London, and Kathryn E. Buchanan, now a lecturer at the University of Essex. “Indeed, participants who performed five kind acts in one day every week had a larger increase in happiness than those who performed five kind acts over a week, presumably because performing the acts regularly allowed participants to adapt faster.”

Manion, who openly shares her previous struggles with an eating disorder on her account, received an outpouring of love from supporters on social media.  She wrote on Instagram that such support is, in part, what encourages her to keep posting.

Far too many people in the eating disorder recovery community are not represented enough because of their appearance - whether that be because of skin color, gender, age, disability, being overweight etc. The media pretends like we don't exist, except for the few times they use us as "token minorities", but even then we get shamed by those who don't like the attempted inclusive message. Even "body positive" campaigns who claim to be representing ALL types of bodies are too scared to even show fat, scarred and stretch marked bodies like mine. The truth is, I exist. And many, many other bodies that are represented even less than mine exist. We exist. I also may be working on bettering my physical health right now and getting more in shape (because I want to do that for myself and loved ones), but I am still worthy and lovable at this weight. I don't just exist when you want me to be seen or when you deem me "worthy enough". This is #MyRecoveryBody. I'm not ashamed. And I deserve to be seen and heard, along with my fellow recovery warriors who may not fit the "thin, white woman" mold, which we have made out to be the ONLY valid body type who struggle with eating disorders. Eating disorder sufferers do not have a "look". Eating disorders affect ALL different types of people. Therefore, "recovery is for all".

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“This month’s media exposure was as much of a win for me as it is for you," she wrote to her followers. "Because the more we speak up and break down barriers in positive and empowering ways, the more normalized our work becomes, which means that one day we can do even harder work. While incredible, giving a fat person some of the spotlight for a couple days isn’t where the work stops. There is so much more work to be done.”

There is certainly much more work to be done, both to end harmful bullying and, on a larger level, shift the perceptions of beauty in our society. It’s not easy to act with kindness toward people who hurt us, but Manion's approach is a great reminder that love trumps hate.

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