A self-portrait meant to make a statement about natural beauty has exposed a lot of peoples’ ugly side.
NYU student Stella Boonshoft is a plus-sized woman who posted a shot of her bikini-clad body on her Tumblr blog, The Body Love Blog. This weekend, however, the photo got a much larger audience than Boonshoft intended.
After being snapped for street photographer Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York Facebook page, she told him about her sizeism project. She didn’t expect the photographer to pick up her bikini photo instead—for his 631,000 fans to see.
“I expected him to post the CLOTHED picture of me, and link to my blog, so anyone who was interested could check it out,” she wrote. “So needless to say I was a little surprised when I saw my half-naked self on Facebook, getting thousands of likes every minute.”
The original photo shows a smiling Boonshoft in her skivvies with a hefty disclaimer:
“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.”
Unfortunately, even in 2012, the concept that not all women are model-perfect is still a controversial position to take. Hundreds of thousands of people commented on Boonshoft’s photo on Stanton’s Facebook page. And for every “You go girl!” there was also a derogatory comment.
Boonshoft said her first thought was to “burst into tears.” But after talking with Stanton, she decided to leave the photo and her blog up.
“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,” she wrote on Tumblr.
On Sunday evening, Boonshoft wrote the Facebook experience had even inspired her to change the direction of her blog to focus less on her personal experiences, and more on body positivity in general.
“Over the course of the next few weeks, me and my friend Brandon (who you all know from Humans of New York) are reinventing this blog,” she wrote.
Photo by Brandon Staunton/Facebook