Dear Haters: My Response to Body Shaming.

5.3

The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

Views 10
Shares 4.9
Hearts 0.0
Comments 10
Editor's Pick 0.0
Total Ecosystem Rating 5.3
0 Do you love this article? Show the author your support by hearting.
14
9.4k

Kate Eckman's photo for article, not for reuse,

Would you put on a bathing suit, walk into a corporate office, stand under horrific fluorescent lighting, be filmed on a camera phone and broadcast on a major news organization’s Facebook Live feed in front of more than 50,000 viewers?

That’s exactly what I recently did. I work as a “plus-size” model (I’m a size 12) in New York City, and was hired by a swimsuit client to model the latest swim trends for summer alongside a size two swimsuit model. The point was to show different styles on different body types.

Live viewers, of course, were able to ask questions and make comments. Out of about 400 comments, 395 of them were nice, some even extremely kind and body positive—yet I found myself focusing on the few comments that were mean-spirited.

One man said I needed a gym membership.
Another man proclaimed, “No fat chicks.”
Another viewer, also a man, questioned how I was a swimsuit model.
And then there was yet another man who felt the need to refer to me as an animal. He chose to leave a one word comment. Hippopotamus.

Really? Hippopotamus?

I can’t say I was shocked people could be so cruel, but I found it interesting that the only negative comments came from men. Women in the chat were complimentary, some even elated to see someone with their body type modeling swimsuits so they could see what it would actually look like on them, and even told the authors of the rude comments to, “Be nice, and try doing what she’s doing!”

I’m not saying these comments didn’t affect me at all, because for a few hours, I did think about them, and even found myself questioning my weight.

I knew I had a choice. I could choose to internalize these few, isolated hateful comments and feel victimized and horrible about my body, or I could choose to be the victor and speak openly about my experience in the hope of encouraging others to embrace their bodies, whatever the shape or size, and honor it with daily acts of self care like exercise, meditation and clean eating. When I think of everything my body does for me day in and day out, I am filled with such a sense of gratitude and all I can say is, “Thank you.”

The shame of not fitting into society’s itsy-bitsy standard of beauty has been replaced by the grace of self-acceptance, and knowledge that I am so much more than what I look like in a swimsuit, especially in poor lighting.

This body-shaming experience isn’t just about me. I am a grown woman in my 30s who chooses to put myself out there and work as a model. I can handle it.

But what about all the young girls and women in the world who are my size or bigger (which is the majority of the population), who see and hear women’s bodies being criticized in this way? That’s what I have a problem with.

The message is you are not beautiful, worthy or good enough unless you are a size two or look really skinny in a swimsuit. Heck, even size zero supermodels like Chrissy Teigen have spoken publicly about being body-shamed and called “fat.”

Here’s what I know for sure: What people say about you as nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them.

Case in point:

The man who said, “No fat chicks,” weighs no less than 400 pounds.

Yes, I clicked on his comment and looked at his Facebook page. I have compassion for this man. He was talking to himself. His self-hatred is so deep that he took the time to make a mean comment about a woman he does not know. A comment attacking a woman’s body.

I send this man love. He is in pain. He does not know me. He doesn’t know I have “big thighs” because I am built like my 6’5″, athletic father. He doesn’t know I swam competitively for 17 years, tried out for the Olympics and can leg press 245 pounds.

He doesn’t know I recently lost two dear friends to suicide, and sometimes when the pain is too great, I deal with it by over-eating, something it seems he can relate to.

When I went to work that day, I focused on making the suits look lovely and comfortable. When I watch the video, all I see is a woman glowing from the inside out, smiling so bright and having fun. That’s what beauty is to me. Self-confidence and owning who you are and where you are (weight fluctuations and all), is drop-dead gorgeous to me. Nothing is sexier than being kind to others.

While some of the comments weren’t pleasant to read, I saw this as an important opportunity to heal and grow, and acknowledge the times when I have not been kind to myself or my body. The times I used to think my body’s appearance defined my self worth instead of who I am on the inside. The times I compared myself to the size zero models standing next to me, and felt uncomfortable being the “big girl” on set, questioning why I, too, could not have their “perfect” body type. The times I chose to over-indulge with food and alcohol, and then be mad at my body for not looking and performing a certain way. I, too, have been guilty of dishing out some pretty harsh criticism.

My behavior and my thoughts about my body are really the only ones that matter.

For the record, I do have a gym membership, two of them actually. I train three to four times a week, and my trainer tells me I’m far and away his strongest female client.

No, I’m not the skinniest girl at the gym or on set, but I’m fit, healthy, and most importantly, I’m kind-hearted, supportive of others and happy.

 

Author: Kate Eckman

Image: Courtesy of the Author

Editors: Sara Kärpänen; Catherine Monkman

5.3

The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

Views 10
Shares 4.9
Hearts 0.0
Comments 10
Editor's Pick 0.0
Total Ecosystem Rating 5.3
0 Do you love this article? Show the author your support by hearting.
14
9.4k

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

Alicia Cronkite Jun 28, 2016 3:06pm

Great article, I am always happy to receive a gentle reminder to be kind whenever I possibly can!

Kate Eckman Jun 26, 2016 7:02pm

I see you. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Hugs!!!

Cathy Maxwell Jun 26, 2016 6:01pm

I saw the Dalai Lama this week and he talked about the importance of inner beauty. I have struggled with my body image my entire life, fielding rude comments in my 20's as an exotic dancer in NYC, and I noticed it was often a beer-bellied, balding guy who felt the need to call me names. I am still working on healthy and happy as the key to inner (and outer) beauty, and ignoring the haters. Now that I'm older, I'm mostly invisible anyway :) - Alexa Maxwell

Kate Eckman Jun 26, 2016 3:24am

Thank you so much!:)

Kate Eckman Jun 26, 2016 3:23am

Thanks so much!:)

Eric DeDoes Jun 25, 2016 4:26pm

Fantastic article written by a beautiful strong woman. Thank you!

Adèle Durand Jun 25, 2016 2:48pm

Thanks for this inspiring post. Negativity should always be transformed into something more productive, no time to waste in bad thoughts :D

Kate Eckman Jun 25, 2016 2:24am

Thank you so much! XO

Kate Eckman Jun 25, 2016 2:24am

Thank you so much! Xo

Maria Radovanov Jun 25, 2016 1:34am

You are beautiful from the inside out. I am a mother to 4 children, 2 are girls and I am so sad to see the pressure they feel. Keep up the good work! Your images and voice make a huge impact!

Sarah Bartlett Jun 24, 2016 9:49pm

A truly beautiful and inspiring message, thank-you for sharing

Kate Eckman Jun 24, 2016 8:24pm

Thank you!

Susan Kilgore Jun 24, 2016 7:11pm

You are truly a beautiful young woman and you look gorgeous in that suit!

Kate Eckman Jun 24, 2016 6:49pm

Thank you!

Pam Johnson Taverner Jun 24, 2016 6:47pm

Lovely outside and inside too!

Kate Eckman Jun 24, 2016 5:08pm

Thank you!

Kate Eckman Jun 24, 2016 5:07pm

Thank you!

Kate Eckman Jun 24, 2016 5:07pm

Thank you! You are, too!

Amy Weitzel Jun 24, 2016 4:26pm

You're stunning inside and out. We all have things that is tough to embrace about ourselves: for me, it's aging. Thank you for this insight.

Angela Stevens Jun 24, 2016 3:55pm

Killing it Kate! ♡☆♡

Elna Burger Jun 24, 2016 12:52pm

You are beautiful!

Kris Bloom Jun 24, 2016 12:40pm

Thank you!

Read The Best Articles of March
You voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares.
CLICK TO SEE WHO WON

Kate Eckman

Kate  Eckman is a confidence coach, joy-bringer and personal cheerleader for your spirit. She is the creator of The Full Spirit Workout: A 10-Step System to Shed Your Self-Doubt, Strengthen Your Spiritual Core, and Create a Fun & Fulfilling Life, which is a workout for the spirit that will help you get fit on the inside. It’s a series of daily practices that keep our spirits, minds—and selves— open and available to receive abundance, transformation and enlightenment.

Kate also works as a motivational speaker and is the author of the blog, Love Yourself, Love Your Life, sharing inspirational stories about self-confidence, healthy body image, redefining beauty and success, and creating divine relationships. She is also  a certified Reiki master,  QVC On-Air Beauty Host, and Wilhelmina model.

Kate  attended Penn State University on a swimming scholarship, receiving her degree in advertising and public relations. She went on to earn her master’s degree in broadcast journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, and worked as a TV news anchor and reporter for nearly a decade.

Originally from Cincinnati, she now calls New York City home. You can connect with Kate on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.