The Creators of Brave Body Project Have a Message for Online Body-Shamers
"Stop and remember that there's a person on the other side of your phone, and that person has feelings."
Amber Rees and Lindsey Clayton have built a career out of encouraging women to feel strong, bold, and confident in their own skin. The creators of the Brave Body Project provide free workouts and nutrition tips, as well as plenty of body love, motivation, and inspiration to thousands of women on social media. Still, they're not immune to trolls and body-shaming haters. (Related: Why Body-Shaming Is Such a Big Problem and What You Can Do to Stop It)
"Being on social media as part of the fitness community has been a roller coaster," Rees tells Shape as part of the #MindYourOwnShape campaign, which aims remind everyone that loving your body should never mean hating on someone else's. "It allows other people to express themselves in a positive way but unfortunately in a negative way, too."
Both Clayton and Rees have dealt with a fair share of body-shaming, including being accused of looking "too athletic" and "too bulky." "One comment I received recently said I had tiny legs and big shoulders," says Rees. The commenter continued writing, 'how does she not topple over?'.
"I find these comments unfortunate because we in the fitness community work out because we want to better ourselves, feel more confident, and feel braver," says Rees. "But so many people just end up focusing on the exterior rather than focusing on improving physically, emotionally, and mentally-regardless of what that may look like." (Related: Katie Willcox Wants You to Know That You're So Much More Than What You See In the Mirror)
"People can just hide behind a screen and not realize there's a real person on the other end," adds Clayton. Her message for anyone who has ever been a hater or body-shamer? "Stop and remember that there's a person on the other side of your phone, and that person has feelings. And maybe they love their body just the way it is. Most importantly, their body is none of your business." (Related: How Body-Shaming Someone Else Finally Taught Me to Stop Judging Women's Bodies)
Instead of spreading negativity, Rees is using the Mind Your Shape initiative to encourage social media users to be kind and thoughtful with their words. "You have the opportunity to make an impact on someone's life through the comments you make," she says. "So what kind of a mark are you trying to leave? Who are you helping? It's so important to think about what you're writing and what kind of an imprint it will leave on another person. Positivity is contagious so practice it."
Both Clayton and Rees say they feel that body-shaming as a whole could be brought to an end if people began by readjusting their standards of beauty. "People need to stop thinking that if you don't look a certain way, it's wrong," says Clayton. "Beauty is not one type, shape, color, or size, and the more we can accept that beauty and strength look different on everyone, the more we'll be able to empower each other."
"Loving who you are is what beauty really is," adds Rees. We couldn't agree more.