Never read the comments is real way of life for many people — especially those who are constantly body shamed on the internet, specifically social media. 26-year-old plus-size model and influencer Denise Mercedes is often told she is too fat, that she needs to lose weight, and that she's promoting obesity. But she only has one thing to say to her hates: "because it’s my body."
Last year, Mercedes turned the hashtag #becauseitsmybody into a size inclusive campaign she dubbed "Phase 1," when she realized everyone faces criticism no matter what size they are. “When I did the first photo shoot [for the campaign], I only had women. It was just me and four other girls,” Mercedes tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “We were all wearing lingerie, and there’s no Photoshop. I had the photographer make sure that he captured cellulite, every stretch mark, and I went ahead and I had him zoom in on all of our flaws."
Mercedes took her campaign a step further on Tuesday when she launched Phase 2, a call-to-action to stop making a distinction between straight-size and plus-size models, specifically when it comes to who is championed in the body positivity movement. She noticed mostly plus women are being represented as movers and shakers on the body positivity front, so she decided to get everyone — regardless of size — involved with her message of self-acceptance.
“Everyone gets criticized,” Mercedes continued. “It’s not just a plus-size body positive campaign, it’s just a body-positive campaign — that’s it. And everyone’s included.” She’s asking for readers to submit their own stories to the campaign’s website: “I actually want to be able to make it a community because I don’t want anyone to feel left out,” she shares. “If you feel like you can relate, then you’re also a part of it.”