THE BLOG

My Sexy, Plus-Size Lingerie Selfies Started an Enlightening Comment Section War

05/01/2015 12:14 pm ET | Updated May 01, 2016

This post originally appeared on Bustle.

When I was young, I used to be shy. Like, really shy. I was one of those kids who stayed in at recess, had only one best friend, and usually kept to myself with my nose stuck in a book of some sort. It didn't help matters much that I also happened to be a fat kid. My size undoubtedly aided in my shyness and isolation, since I always thought that there was something "wrong" with me because I didn't look like the other kids in school. I was the victim of a lot of bullying when I was young, and so I always thought it best to hide from the world as best I could.

Said self-concealment was facilitated by not talking to the other kids (save for the one best friend I had, of course -- we were inseparable loners) and hiding my body shame with baggy clothes several sizes too big for me. Because, you know, no one would be able to tell just how fat I was under that tent-like shirt. As I grew from a young girl into a young teen, not that much changed. Eventually I managed to push myself into participating in the dramatic arts where I finally found a voice, but my clothing still reflected that of a shameful, shy girl who wanted to hide her body from the world. And honestly, I really did.

It wasn't until I was a senior in high school that I started "coming out of my shell," so to speak. Being involved in drama gave me a safe platform to find my inner (and subsequently, my outer) voice, and after a few years of finally starting to feel confident with my own voice, thoughts and opinions (and not being afraid to share them with others), I was ready to tackle my physical confidence. Right, erm ... easier said than done. How was I ever going to do that? When I looked in the mirror, I was still fat. No matter what clothing I decided to wear, I was still going to be fat.

And then it dawned on me -- I was always going to be fat. It wasn't something that I could ignore, and it wasn't something I could hide. It was something that I had to realize, accept and embrace. It was at that point that I set myself out on a mission: underwear. I needed some new underwear to help me see my body as sexy, and I hoped with all my might that this would, in turn, help me to feel sexy, too. I made a very determined trip to my local La Senza, squeezed myself into the largest size they had to offer, came home, tossed out my Wonderbra and granny panties that my grandma bought me from the Women's Department at Sears, and decided from then on out that I loved being in my underwear.

Today, I can say with pride that I have become the woman that my younger self always wanted to be. I am confident in all aspects of my life, and I not only accept my body the way it is, but absolutely love my body the way it is. My body is a unique form of beauty -- it's large, fat, curvy, and deliciously feminine, and as a body positivity activist and model, I am more than happy to show it off to the public with pride. And since I'm someone who struts around the house most days in only my underwear and a crown, I decided that I would post a photo online of myself in underwear every day for a week, just to see what happened.

I decided to use Instagram as my platform for this experiment, just because I can cross-post to my other social media profiles such as Twitter and Facebook from it all at once (maximum online efficiency power!). It also just so happens to be my favorite online space for the sharing of my personal life -- I am, admittedly, a total selfie slut. Hey, I spent years building up this fabulous confidence I have now, and I plan on taking full advantage of it. No shame here. I also have the majority of my followers on Instagram, so I figured the more people I could reach, the better.

The Experiment

For me, the actual "work" involved in this little project was basic, consisting of nothing, really. All I had to do was what I do every day anyway: Do my makeup and my hurrr, grab my trusty selfie-taker -- or my "phone" to those of you who aren't so selfie-inclined -- and snap a quick photo of myself in my underwear. Some days I didn't even do my hair or makeup, and just let my natural beauty shine. The power here lies within the lingerie anyway, and not so much with the makeup and hair (although I'll be the first to admit that feeling totally sexed-up is a confidence booster). I would then take this photo, add whatever fun Instagram edits I wanted to it (usually a filter of some sort, accompanied sometimes by a double-reversed edit of the photo for double the pleasure), and then post the photo publicly to my Instagram account at least once daily for seven days.

The Results

Let me preface this by saying that I ended up with a ton of new followers after doing this experiment -- people apparently love to follow a girl who posts half-naked selfies, who knew? But anyway, one of the things I was watching for when doing this experiment was the different sorts of comments people would leave me. I ended up getting three different types: the creepy comments, the negative comments and the positive comments.

Let's start first with the creepy comments, because those are always so entertaining: I got a plethora of different men wanting to know what my Kik was (yeah guys, it's really that easy -- insert eye roll here), men asking if I'd "ever had a big cock" before, and a lot of "Daaammmmmnns." Things became more intense on the creepy front after I posted a photo of myself in lingerie... from the back. Apparently, a big behind just adds fuel to the fire that was surely burning in many of these guys' loins -- and they made sure I knew all about it:

User: I want 2 do tings 2 dis booty

User: I hope U like dark meat!

User: Marry me

User: mmm mmm i m lovn all tht ass

User: Very secy i wanna kiss ur ass

Now, I know a lot of women get up in arms about how "disgusting" and "disrespectful" these comments are, and I can understand that. I get it, I do -- but for me, these comments aren't remotely a big deal. I'm more inclined to be bothered by the terrible spelling and botched use of the English language (we aren't in the age of T9 anymore people, there is no excuse for keyboard laziness!) rather than the comments themselves. For that's exactly what they are -- comments.

These words can't touch me or hurt me, and in fact, although these may be online versions of cat calls, what they also stand for is the sexualization of a plus-size woman. And that's important here, for the entire purpose of posting photos in just my lingerie was to show off my confidence and sexiness, after all. Plus-size women are sexual beings, and we are finally being seen and recognized (positively!) for that. As far as I'm concerned, these comments suggest a positive outcome to the photos posted, and support plus-size women being seen in a positive, sexual light. And really, at the end of the day, they can make for a really good laugh sometimes. Not surprisingly, the photo of me in lingerie from behind got the most likes as well. That's the power of the big booty, I suppose.

Next came the negative comments. These were few and far between, but they did pop up here and there. I mostly noticed them after one fat-hating user would tag a few friends so that they could all see and laugh at my photo together.

User: U fat whale ur disgusting

User : *laughing emoticon*

User: @tag @tag @tag Ud hit that hahahaha

Added to that delightful mix was your average "concern troll" who would take it upon themselves to pretend to be concerned for my health while telling me how dangerous my body was -- how unhealthy -- and listing several different diseases I could possibly have or get (note: I don't have any). These people use their "concern for my health" to try and mask what's really going on -- and that's plain and simple sizeism.

I'm going to take this opportunity to remind people that your health is not always determined by your size. You can be fat and unhealthy, and you can be thin and unhealthy -- just as you can be fat and healthy, or thin and healthy. Diseases and health hazards effect all bodies, not just fat ones. And aside from the whole "health" argument, your health does not determine your self worth as a person. No one can tell you that you shouldn't love yourself because they are uncomfortable with your body. Shut them down immediately, if not sooner.

As we've established, I'm not one who gets bothered -- at all -- by negative comments. There is nothing that anyone can say that I haven't already heard, and fat haters are notoriously unoriginal when it comes to insults. There are people who think I'm disgusting, just because I'm fat? I actually end up feeling profoundly sorry for these people, because I know deep down that they are very confused, insecure, and full of hate. Something I am definitely not, and so every time someone posts a negative comment and I shrug it off without a second thought, I feel extremely triumphant and on top of the world. Those haters have a long way to go before they can reach my high level, where they can never, ever touch me.

What really surprised me, though, were the amount of people who follow me who would jump in to defend me anytime anyone left a hateful comment, and sometimes it grew into a legit war. I'm usually a fan of the "Do Not Feed The Trolls" notion and a huge fan of the "Delete" button (the easiest way to deal with trolls, in my opinion), but it was actually really comforting and empowering to see these people fire up in defense. What that said to me was that we are a strong community that stands together. We defend each other. We lift each other up. And we are a force to be reckoned with.

For every negative comment I received, there were 100 positive ones. These comments were the best, and the only ones that I let have any weight or power at the end of the day when it came to effecting me. They were from all different sorts of people, men and women both, but the majority of the comments were from fellow females:

User: I wish I had your confidence!

User: You are my girl crush!

User: You are so inspiring, and you help me to look in the mirror and love myself, something I never thought I'd be able to do. Thank you.

THIS THOUGH. This is what I do this for -- to inspire other women to break out of hiding and to learn to love their bodies and be confident and proud. Because if you can look at me and think I am beautiful, then you can surely look at yourself and think the exact same thing. People's perceptions starts to change, and sometimes all you need is that push from someone before your whole world opens up in front of your very eyes. There were honestly so many positive comments on all the photos I posted and it's overwhelmingly flattering. I appreciated each and every one of them. But aside from appealing to my obvious vanity, these comments held so much power, being the very fuel to the body-positive movement fire. People were loving and supporting not only me, but what I was doing.

Conclusions

Posting photos of myself in lingerie is pretty second-nature to me, not only because I spend most of my days lounging around lavishly in it like a plus-size sex goddess, but because I've been happily and proudly posting photos of myself in lingerie, bikinis and any other "taboo" outfits that fat people typically "shouldn't wear," let alone post, for many years now. It's sort of been my huge "eff you" to society, sure, but more importantly it has been my huge "YES you" to the plus-size community and my fellow fat babes.

I want people of all shapes and sizes to know that If I can do this and feel this happy and confident with myself, you can, too. No one has to hide anymore. And that's really the important thing to remember here. I may be comfortable posting half-naked photos of myself online for the public to see, but there are still so many who just haven't gotten there yet. If this experiment has shown anything, it's that plus-size women are seen as positively sexual beings by many, that haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate (but you just shake 'em off) and that plus-size women can be loved, adored, supported, admired and celebrated.

There is such a powerful and grand community of love and support when it comes to size acceptance and the body positive movement, and it needs to be known that everyone is their own unique version of beauty. Don't let your fear of random people's disapproval stop you from loving yourself and showing it. There are so many more people out there who are evolving along with society's beauty standards who will lift you up, support you, push you, defend you and illuminate you. So shed those clothes, ladies -- and show me your underwear!

Images: Instagram/khaleesidelrey; Giphy

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