Here’s Stella’s story from Humans Of New York’s Facebook page:
“Today I met an NYU student named Stella. I took a photo of her. Afterwards, she told me about a self-portrait she recently posted on Tumblr. So, instead of the photo I took, here is her self-portrait. Along with the words she wrote:
WARNING: Picture might be considered obscene because subject is not thin. And we all know that only skinny people can show their stomachs and celebrate themselves. Well I’m not going to stand for that. This is my body. Not yours. MINE. Meaning the choices I make about it, are none of your fucking business. Meaning my size, IS NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS.
If my big belly and fat arms and stretch marks and thick thighs offend you, then that’s okay. I’m not going to hide my body and my being to benefit your delicate sensitivities.
This picture is for the strange man at my nanny’s church who told me my belly was too big when I was five.
This picture is for my horseback riding trainer telling me I was too fat when I was nine.
This picture is for the girl from summer camp who told me I’d be really pretty if I just lost a few pounds
This picture is for all the fucking stupid advertising agents who are selling us cream to get rid of our stretch marks, a perfectly normal thing most people have (I got mine during puberty)
This picture is for the boy at the party who told me I looked like a beached whale.
This picture is for Emily from middle school, who bullied me incessantly, made mocking videos about me, sent me nasty emails, and called me “lard”. She made me feel like I didn’t deserve to exist. Just because I happened to be bigger than her. I was 12. And she continued to bully me via social media into high school.
MOST OF ALL, this picture is for me. For the girl who hated her body so much she took extreme measures to try to change it. Who cried for hours over the fact she would never be thin. Who was teased and tormented and hurt just for being who she was.
I’m so over that.
THIS IS MY BODY, DEAL WITH IT.”
If you visit Stella’s blog, here’s her side of the story:
“On getting exactly what I wanted and feeling terrified
I saw Brandon from HONY just down the block from where I live.
I was super excited, and approached him asking if I could get a picture of him. He was so nice, and agreed readily. I snapped him taking a picture of a young man in a wheelchair. He then asked me if he could take my picture. OF COURSE I agreed, anyone who knows me knows I love I having my picture taken.
After he took a few shots, he asked me “So what’s your story?”
I told him about my sizeism project, my blog, and the picture on tumblr that got a lot more attention than I thought it would. He said he was really interested, wanted to put me up on the blog, and to email him as soon as I got home with all my info. I did just that.
I expected him to post the CLOTHED picture of me, and link to my blog, so anyone who was interested could check it out.
So needless to say I was a little surprised when I saw my half-naked self on Facebook, getting thousands of likes every minute.
My first instinct was to burst into tears. It’s what I do when I’m too overwhelmed and don’t know how to feel. A million thoughts raced through my brain – but the most prominent one was
“This is exactly the exposure you wanted to spread the message of size acceptance. This is the perfect venue for you to share your story, and you should be honored.”
Then why did I feel like utter shit?
I knew that thousands of people were looking at my body. I knew thousands were judging me.
Still, I knew more were supporting me, sharing kind words, and getting something from what I wrote.
IT’S WAYYYYY EASIER, however, to focus on the smaller percentage of negative assholes rather than the overwhelming love.
I panicked. I emailed Brandon, asking him to please post the other picture with a little more of what I had to say, as I thought maybe that would stop some of the trolls. I didn’t know how to feel. Here I was, this woman speaking about loving yourself and accepting who you are, suddenly absolutely devastated because some random people I don’t know were saying nasty things about me on the internet.
Brandon was amazing. He offered advice, his support, and told me if I ever changed my mind he would delete the picture.
I took a few hours with myself to sit and think and absorb what was happening. Should I tell him to delete it? Should I delete my blog? Should I persevere and leave it up?
Finally, I decided to leave it. I know what I am trying to do, which is help young women struggling with their body image and expose the hypocrisy and cruelty that is sizeism, is SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT whatever feelings I may have about myself.
I didn’t do this for attention or sympathy. I have people in my real life who help me with anything I need, I don’t need to look to strangers for that.
I am doing what I’m doing in the hopes I can make a difference in a world that has so much cruelty.
But also know that I am human. I have my bad days. Maybe I will change my mind and decide I don’t want to be in the public eye, and everyone will forget about me in about 2 seconds.
But I hope I continue to gain strength from this experience, and get the chance to tell my story at a widespread level.
And I hope you know that to all who have been supportive, I love you.
You can see Stella’s blog here: http://thebodyloveblog.tumblr.com/