When 16-year-old Anna Sweetland witnessed a male classmate calling plus-size models “disgusting”, she couldn’t remain silent.
While discussing digital manipulation in the media on an online forum with her class, Sweetland noticed one of the male students had posted a controversial comment.
“There’s no problem with not being ashamed of your body, but it’s an entirely different thing when you’re obese,” he wrote.
Referencing US retailer Target’s recent plus-size campaign, he added: “The problem with campaigns like these is that they encourage obesity, unhealthy habits and they say that you’ll be happy no matter your size. This is wrong and no one wants to look at an obese model.”
— Sam (@SamWettstein) June 27, 2017
Sweetland swiftly hit back with a well-thought-out reply, beginning: “I agree with you that obesity is a bad thing and it is a problem that our world is dealing with right now. However, I do not believe that plus-size models are contributing to this disease.”
She went on to blame things such as fast food restaurants for the obesity problem, adding that we need to “be respectful in remembering that not all those who are obese necessarily did it by choice.”
The teenager concluded by saying why body diversity in the media is a positive thing: “We need to represent every body in the media, because everyone needs to be represented. Everyone needs to be able to look in the media, and find the one person who looks similar to them.”
““Lastly, I would like to inform you that your statement saying: ‘Nobody wants to look at an obese model’ is false. You know who wants to see a plus-size model? The 67% of women in America who are plus-sized, and want to open a magazine and see somebody that looks just as beautiful as they do.”
Teen Vogue spoke to Sweetland about the reaction to her comment. She revealed that she had first posted it in order to educate her classmates but now hopes that others will think before they body-shame.
“I want people to see plus-size models as a stride in the right direction for our society. Instead of seeing plus-size models as promoters of obesity, see them as promoters of confidence,” she commented.
“If I had seen models like Ashley Graham on magazine covers or being displayed positively in TV shows when I was younger, my entire opinion of my body would be different.”
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