In a city where lingerie-clad women pout down at us from every other billboard, one more mostly-naked lady shouldn’t make such a difference. But New Yorker Stella Boonshoft has, whether she meant to or not.
Stella, as she’s now known to millions, is an 18-year old Tumblr member who posted a picture of herself in her underwear, baring her body with a flirtatious head tilt and proud smile. Her photo got picked up by Humans of New York when she met its photographer, and has now been seen by over 4 million (and counting) viewers.
The picture wasn’t just another self-involved teenager’s social media upload. Instead, Stella posted the picture with a very clear intention: To show her former bullies and anyone else who might see the picture that despite all the crap she’s gotten in her life for not being thin, she’s proud of her body. Oh right, did we mention that Stella is a size 12, and proud? And that her Tumblr page is called The Body Love Blog?
Stella might not have intended for her picture to reach the sizable audience that it has, but her message is certainly spreading. Strangers from all over have been sending Stella support in the form of Facebook comments ever since the photo was posted. Not all the comments have been supportive, of course, as there are in the world too many “negative assholes” (as Stella puts it on her blog) to be avoided, but the majority have been positive.
Though Stella has a medical condition that makes it difficult for her to lose weight, that doesn’t stop her from struggling with her body image, or others from making her feel bad about her body. But because of this, she says, “My goal is to go back to my middle school, where all my body image issues began, and work with young girls on the issues of self-esteem, body image, sizeism, and bullying.”
It’s an impressive dream from an even more impressive young lady.