When Lexie Manion, a body-positive activist, received “several hundred” hurtful comments on one of her Instagram posts, a number of thoughts ran through her head. And it’s her reaction that has us applauding her for taking the high road.
In an article she wrote for Cosmopolitan, Manion wrote how she had recently shared a side-by-side photo of herself in one photo wearing a sheer top and in the other photo wearing a sweater. In both photos she labelled herself as confident. But after reading through some of the comments on her post she felt anything but confident.
Manion’s post centered around confidence, but some trolls focused on her health.
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.
She wrote that what felt like “an endless surge of hate” left her questioning why so many seemed to hate her. And although there were plenty of comments that agreed with her caption and complimented her, there were still comments that stung.
“It’s not called just your body anymore, it’s called obesity and that is definitely not the way you want to live,” one user wrote. “I recommend letting that sink in, but anyways stay confident and beautiful.”
The body-positive activist considered making her profile private, but felt that in doing so she’d isolate herself from the body-positive community. She tried blocking some of the trolls, but after reading a particularly rude comment—”I’m confident that your death is around the corner”—she pursued a different plan.
Blocking or responding in a sarcastic way only made her feel good for so long.
Manion responded to several comments attempting to explain her situation, but eventually she realized it was useless and she was spending too much time reading the comments.
Then she noticed her photo was being shared on other Instagram accounts and those photos were also receiving hateful comments.
“Although I was glad my message resonated enough to be regrammed, I couldn’t monitor comments on other people’s pages, or delete them, and it left me feeling powerless,” she wrote on Cosmopolitan.
She had an idea, spread kindness rather than hate.
"So many hearts around the world breaking If I only got one chance, I'll take it Let my voice be a trumpet that can say that Someone gotta be the hope and someone gotta be the love ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Too much light to be living in the dark Where are we going? We ain't getting very far Why waste time? We only got one life ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ And don't you know it starts today? And baby, no, it's not too late It begins with you and I Together we can be the change" ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Be The Change by Britt Nicole | sweatshirt by @shopbrittnicole + @itsbrittnicole
Manion shifted through her comments and chose roughly 30 of the worst ones and privately messaged or left a public “genuine compliment” for each person.
“Though I had low expectations, I hoped the people I complimented 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.
She said that though she only received a handful of replies, two people apologized and none of the accounts left any more rude comments.
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. Even more importantly, this final approach helped me feel empowered, when ignoring or engaging in debates over my health and fitness habits didn’t do the trick. Changing the conversation on my own terms helped me regain the pride I felt when posting the photos in the first place.
Although we can’t control the haters, we can control how we react, and Manion’s way of responding to her critics is one way to spread the love that the world so desperately needs.
It is so easy to look at things with rose colored glasses on and say everything is peachy and fine when we're not directly dealing with drama and girl on girl hate. I encourage you to take off the glasses and look around. There may always be girl drama and hate because there will always be people who refuse to listen when they are approached with respectful debate themselves (but happen to dish out some hate disguised as debate quite well themselves), but I stand by the phrase "eliminate girl hate" because we can all do our part here. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Not everyone will do their part, but if enough of us choose to stand up and stick together, good things will come from it. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We are better together. And while I am here for us supporting one another, I encourage you to also steer clear of those who are trying to drag you down. There is no sense in trying to help someone understand when they don't care to see how their negative words and actions affect others. And that's okay. Let them be. Focus on us girls rooting you on and loving you for who you are and not for superficial things like what influence you've got on social media. You are as valuable at 10 followers as you are at 100,000 followers. Also know that not every popular account on here is going to be cliquey or hateful. (I try to see it as the hateful accounts just happen to be popular and that they're not popular because they're hateful; they just got lucky.) But if you see the warning signs in certain ones, be cautious. You matter just as much as they do. We are on the same level. We are on the same team. Choose love over hate. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ // top by @bloodynorapam ❤️