When it comes to swimsuit-season-related body positivity, we love to hear from everyone about their experiences. However, it’s often plus-size women and femmes whose stories really resonate, as there’s a lot of size discrimination coming at them from all over. There are brands who only offer clothing in smaller sizes, and there are people out there who say only folks of certain body types should wear the clothing they want. But there are powerful messages combating this negativity, too. This past weekend, for example, 13-year-old Paris Harvey tweeted photos of herself on the beach in a swimsuit, saying she had faced her “biggest fear” and adding a ray of body-positive sunshine to our timelines.
In an interview with Yahoo, Harvey said that she gets bullied a lot for how she looks. “I hadn’t been to the beach in ages because of the anxiety I feel when I go,” she said. When she made it to the beach this past Friday, she initially had shorts on over her swimsuit. “I love swimming,” she told Yahoo. “As we went in and out of the water I decided to take the shorts off.” That’s when the photos were snapped, and she decided to post them.
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Harvey told Yahoo she’d previously stayed covered up on the beach to avoid the same bullying she experiences at school. However, she said that after she took off her shorts to swim on Friday, “People at the beach were minding their own business. I should’ve done it a long time ago.” Body-shaming in schools is a real problem, and one that obviously has effects outside school walls. One 2010 survey of nearly 12,000 students grades five through 12 found that bullied kids were targeted most often their looks and then for their body shape — which is sad but not shocking, given the pressure we put on people to live up to narrow beauty standards.
Harvey’s photos have gone viral, so it’s clear her message is resonant with many others. As Harvey told Yahoo, “I only see thin people posting beach selfies in a bikini. I think it’s nice to see something different. I feel there’s a stigma against people who want to feel comfortable who are bigger.” It’s nice to see anyone enjoying themselves on the beach — and even more poignant when they confronted body-shaming to get there.