Internet virality for championing the body positive movement is usually, well, a positive form of notoriety that’s well-deserved. However, for one Texas mother-to-be, she says her workplace fired her for her internet fame.
In September, engaged couple Stephanie and Arryn from Overton, Texas, went viral for a beautiful photo shoot. The couple had responded to an open call for boudoir photos from Bria Terry, the photographer behind the company Wolf & Rose Photography, who said the photos were originally for a HuffPost article on boudoir shoots from the couple’s perspective.
Taking their tops off for the intimate lakeside shoot, the couple walked away with 15 stunning snapshots that left Stephanie shocked and stunned.
“I honestly have never felt more attractive,” she told HuffPost at the time. “I was so nervous to see the final result. I didn’t know what to expect. But when I saw the album, I was shocked. I look so in love and confident. Every person should be able to see themselves in that light. It is really eye-opening.”
Viewers surely felt the same way about the couple’s chemistry, leaving more than 68,000 reactions to their photo album on Terry’s company Facebook page.
“I wish I was this comfortable with my body to be able to do something like this…Good for her and him and beautiful photos!” one woman commented.
“Absolutely breathtaking beautiful pictures!! I want love like these two share… you can truly see that through their eyes as they look at each other,” another commenter waxed.
The shoot had struck a chord with Stephanie herself, who told HuffPost about her negative feelings about her body from middle school, wondering why she didn’t look the way society told her she was “supposed to.” She is proud of her body now and wears clothing that pushes her out of her comfort zone and makes her feel shameless, and says Arryn has never made her feel self-conscious about herself.
“We have been able to inspire society to believe that who they are and what they look like is enough to be truly loved,” Stephanie said.
However, despite the positive message and feedback the couple garnered with their photos, not everyone appeared to agree with Stephanie’s choices—namely, her place of work.
According to BuzzFeed, Stephanie’s employer, Austin Bank Texas N.A., told her the toplessness of the shoot was inappropriate for their “family-oriented company,” and that they were concerned over how many people saw the photos and how the shoot would reflect on the company.
As a result, Stephanie said she was let go from the company. She said she found their decision disheartening, as she felt she was a fast-moving, model employee. She also refuted the company’s issue with her “toplessness,” saying she had worn a strapless stick-on top in the shoot.
“There was no defending myself, they had made their decision,” she told Buzzfeed. “I gave over a year to a company that I worked really hard for and then to have them turn on me for doing something so positive, something that I was so proud of—to help myself as a woman—it was hurtful. People were pulling out their phones at work and showing the pictures and that was blamed on me.”
On her Facebook page, Terry, the photographer, mentioned that Stephanie is more than 20 weeks pregnant with her and Arryn’s first child, and said she wonders how a company that upholds “family values” terminates a pregnant employee.
According to Yahoo, a bank representative declined to comment on personnel matters per their human resources policy. Texas, meanwhile, is an employment-at-will state, which allows employers to terminate an employee at any time, for any reason, without warning or explanation.
Despite losing her job, however, Stephanie says she’s still proud of her and Arryn’s photos.
“He knows it puts out a good message and helps me in my self-confidence, and how I feel about myself. He’s all about it,” she said.