It is safe to say that social media has created a platform that allows people to obsess over the physical appearance of others. Whether it is a casual OOTD post or a swimsuit selfie, one must have thick skin to endure the public shaming that comes along with being active on social media. Just ask reality TV star and plus size model, Sabrina Servance. Sabrina starred in Lifetime TV’s, “Big Women, Big Love,” a reality show about five plus size women on a quest to find a partner. Since the wrap of the show, Sabrina found love in Addison, a hospitality specialist from Melbourne, Florida. For their six month anniversary, Sabrina posted a photo of her and Addison in their swimsuits followed by a lengthy caption expressing her gratitude for him loving her, despite her size. She wrote,
“Any guy I’ve ever gone on a date with or was interested in said something about my weight. From questioning what I ate to telling me they’d be more attracted to me if I lost weight. I’ve heard it all. But with Addison, it’s so different. He has never ever said anything about my weight,” she gushed. “He never says anything other than, ’You’re beautiful!’ It’s sad but it’s something I had to get used to. In the beginning of our relationship, I waited for the comments but they never came. One day I finally asked him why he never said anything and he said, ‘Why would I ever say anything about your body? It’s YOUR body.’ I’m a lucky girl. He makes me feel safe. He gets it. Any man that tries to strip you of your confidence isn’t worth your time. It’s nice to be with someone who I can wear a swimsuit in front of and not feel judged. #FindYourAddison” she concluded.
The post attracted an overwhelming number of positive comments that praised Sabrina on her infectious confidence. Some people exclaimed that her caption brought tears to their eyes, while others fat-shamed her and accused Addison of being a "chubby chaser" and an enabler.
“I don’t understand why people write that her body is perfect. Ok, she is confident in her own skin and it’s her body. But her body is not perfect. We can’t justify being fat. Being fat is not healthy. Being too think also. We need to find a way between. And stop with the praising fat or too thin bodies,” stated @sofii7339
The fat shaming comments continued, some harsher than others.
Sabrina’s post suggested nothing other than her extreme thankfulness for her boyfriend accepting her the way she is. No mention of her workout regimen or diet was discussed in the post, but the assumption that she doesn’t take care of herself was made clear. Unfortunately, the nature of these comments are not foreign to the plus size model. In a discussion with Sabrina, she stated, “Honestly, it’s been going on for so long, it doesn’t upset me, it’s just annoying. Everyone has this obsession with telling a fat person when they’re confident that they’re trying to push being fat on other people. If you look at other influencers, they get the same comment, ‘you’re glorifying obesity you’re glorifying being unhealthy,’ but all I did was post a photo of my outfit. Am I not supposed to leave the house? Am I supposed to not post a photo until I’m thin? I’m going to portray the real me online. No filters. So if you meet me in person you’re going to meet the same person you see online.”
Sabrina has used her time in the spotlight to educate others on what it means to be body positive. She states, "I post a lot about confidence and what I go through. For mainstream plus size models, confidence equals sexy. I’m not the traditional definition of plus size sexy. I’m a nerd. This is who I am. And you can be happy and you don’t have to be with someone pressuring you to be someone you’re not.”
That's why following her initial post, she responded to the naysayers with this message,
"I'm fat and my boyfriend is white. Get over it. There are far worse things happening on this planet. This constant conversation about health is absurd. What does that have to do with my swimsuit? What does it have to do with how my boyfriend loves me? Absolutely nothing. You look at pictures of me and assume that sit around eating and doing nothing. That's untrue. But what if I did? It is none of your business. The thought of a happy fat person bothers so many people. And it's stupid. I had an eating disorder for many years. I ruined my stomach trying to lose weight. And I lost weight. I was still plus size. People still called me fat. And the people who DID say I "looked amazing" had no idea that I was fainting from being hungry. That I would go home and cry myself to sleep because I couldn't take it anymore. That I wanted to die because I was so depressed. But I "looked amazing". Yet inside I felt like trash. I was doing what people wanted. I lost weight and lost myself. I will NEVER go back to that. I love myself so much now. I fought really hard to become the Sabrina you see today. I'm not the ideal standard of beauty. And I will never be. And I don't ever want to be. I'm my own kind of beautiful. And screw you if you have an issue with my happiness. I lost a lot of time living for others. That I can't get back. But I can keep living for ME. Please live. Please fight. DO YOU!!! #findyouraddison #confidencetakestime"
Sabrina remains unfazed by the backlash but emphasizes the importance of recognizing that words hurt. Instagram trolling has become a popular form of cyberbullying and unfortunately, anyone can become a victim. The truth is, everyone has a story and a struggle. Beyond it being rude, body shaming can fuel low self-esteem, eating disorders and depression. It takes a strong person to stand up against the haters and say, “this is me, take it or leave it, but I love it!”