If you look on the Instagram accounts of models, it seems like every other comment involves some kind of body-shaming. Models of all sizes face a particularly extreme amount of scrutiny when it comes to their bodies—whether they’re being called too thin or too curvy.
The thing is, body shaming anyone, no matter who they are, is never justified, and it’s never OK. And that’s exactly the message 19-year-old Australian model Sjana Earp sent today on Instagram, after being inundated with negative comments about her body.
“I am so much more than a body – I know that. I am not defined by numbers OR by other peoples [sic] opinions of me,” Earp, who has an astonishing 997,000 followers, wrote on her Instagram feed. “And the body I have, as imperfect or ‘skinny’ or ‘gross’ as people may think it is, is MY imperfect body. And I am happy with it despite their irrelevant opinions.”
Earp’s account is full of beautiful beach views from exotic locations, with her in and out of the frame. (Her feed is seriously addicting if you check it out — just be prepared to have a sudden urge to book a trip to Hawaii.) And, as one does while relaxing on the beach, she’s often in bathing suits or striking a yoga pose (ok, not all of us do that.) But if her life seems ideal from her Instagram feed, there’s a darker side to being a social media sensation. And it can be witnessed in the comments section, where haters flock—before being promptly deleted.
“It is probably sad, but I have become so used to peoples [sic] comments on my external appearance that they no longer bother me,” Earp said. “I simply block any user and delete their comments if they are critical of me OR anyone else OR if they swear because I want this space (my profile) to be a place of love, empowerment, and positivity.”
Earp continues, her images aren’t meant to be “thinspiration” or a goal for girls to achieve.
“I have never and will never suggest that other people should aspire to have my body,” Earp continued. “In fact, it’s the opposite. Me posting an image which has my body in it is about celebrating the human form DESPITE the way it does or doesn’t meet social expectations and standards. It’s about saying, ‘hey world. This is me. And despite what you think of me, I am comfortable in my own skin. Not because I think I look good or am ‘perfect,’ but because I understand that my value is not defined by other peoples [sic] opinions of me.”
It’s a remarkably classy response to the low blow that is Internet trash talk. After all, defending yourself endlessly is exhausting, but leaving the negativity there for you to revisit — and for other people to see and be affected by — is allowing the hate to spread.
“We don’t look at a landscape and criticise [sic] the shape of a valley or the size of a mountain do we?” Earp questions. “So why are we so quick to judge other natural things like the human figure?”
It’s time we stop hating on women’s bodies, and instead embrace the beauty that every person possesses. It’s especially important online, a place where so many young girls are witnessing these comments and learning how to expect to be treated by the world. That’s why when it comes to banning negative words or deleting hateful comments, we’re 100% on board.