Meet Stella Boonshoft, Cosmo’s new heroine. A curvaceous wonder of a woman, she’s also a fabulous example of how to embrace your body, even when you’re not 100% confident in your skin.
Although we all strive to love our bodies – to be happy with who we are and not give a second thought to our less-than-perfect (and downright imperfect) bits – it’s a lot easier said than done.
Whether you want more curves or less, would like certain bits of you to be bigger or smaller, or simply don’t feel like skipping down the beach when clad only in a bikini, few of us can say with honesty, ‘Yup. I’m totally happy with what I’ve got.’
And Stella is no exception – when she realised that photographer Brandon Stanton had posted a photo of her in a bikini on his Facebook page, Humans Of New York, she admits her first reaction was to burst into tears and consider asking him to take it down.
But then, she realised that this was her chance to challenge people’s perception of size – and decided it could stay.
The picture had originally been posted on her Tumblr site, The Body Love Blog, with the caption, “WARNING: Picture might be considered obscene because subject is not thin.” Stella goes on to write:
“This picture is for my horseback riding trainer telling me I was too fat when I was nine. This picture is for the girl from summer camp who told me I’d be really pretty if I just lost a few pounds...This picture is for the boy at the party who told me I looked like a beached whale...”
The response to the photo has been phenomenal – to date, it’s received 486,742 ‘Likes’ (and counting) on Facebook, and has been shared and written about across the world.
The 57,760 comments include, ‘That is true beauty, right there,’ ‘It is awesome to see so much confidence in a beautiful girl who probably got bullied coz she’s not a twig,’ and ‘We need more strong girls like you.’
Of course, in an ideal world, a photo of an overweight but attractive woman in a bikini, stretch marks bared for all to see, wouldn’t be comment-worthy. At all. After all, most of us see a reflection more similar to hers than to a catwalk model’s when we look in the mirror.
This kind of photo makes people react – sometimes with disgust. But that didn’t stop Stella putting herself out there, on behalf of all of us who have body hang-ups, to say, ‘screw you, I can be confident too.’
Really appreciating our bodies is something some of us learn too late. In her column for The Times, Melanie Reid, who broke her neck and back in a horse-riding accident, recently wrote about her jealousy of the able-bodied – especially those who don’t appreciate what they have. She yearns to shout at them, "Smile. Because you are blessed with a body. And if you don't enjoy it you are wasting your life."
Because it comes down to this: if your body is healthy, how it looks is just the icing on the cake. And it’s women like Stella who remind us that whatever hang-ups we have, our bodies – large, small, wonky, whatever – are pretty wonderful.
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