By Martin Ruffell
TROLLS bombarded this woman with hate and even wished CANCER on her after she shared her semi-nude plus sized pictures online.
Nursing assistant, Ashleigh Atkins (24) from the Blue Mountains, Australia, says that the hate she received after starting a ‘fat positive’ TikTok account was so severe that she decided to quit social media three times this year as the vitriol was quickly ruining her life.
The 16st 7, size 20 model who frequently posts nude or semi-nude images from her photoshoots on Instagram, first got into modelling at the age of 19. Since then she has amassed a following of well over 100K on Instagram.
She says that the majority of her followers are wonderful people who comment on her pictures telling her that she has inspired them to love their own bodies. However, a select few trolls have caused Ashleigh intense stress and anxiety, commenting that she is too fat, damaging her health and that her stomach is disgusting.
But after a few months offline, Ashleigh is keener than ever to show that a person’s size or shape doesn’t determine their value. She says that modelling has allowed her to feel empowered and the anonymous voices of a few mean spirited individuals isn’t going to stop her from doing what she loves.
“Our value as human beings does not decrease with weight gain or increase with weight loss. Regardless of appearance, people deserve basic human respect,” said Ashleigh.
“I think that while I’ve noticed a growing acceptance of bigger models since I started modelling, there is definitely still a way to go.
“I am on the smaller end of ‘plus size’ and I don’t face half the challenges bigger models do.
“I have noticed that even in the smaller range there is the preferred plus size shape, the hourglass.
“I would love to see more women with different body shapes and bigger sizes hired and represented in fashion.
“It’s taken a lot of mental work to accept that your body weight can fluctuate, but that doesn’t mean your worth does too.
“I unfortunately had a rough time on social media recently.
“I started a TikTok to create body positive content and was bombarded with hate comments about my weight, my health, the way my stomach looked.
“It was intense. I had to take a little break from all social media when a troll made their way into my Instagram DMs and wished cancer on me.”
But with the support of her family, friends and her MMA fighter boyfriend Ben of five years, Ashleigh is certain that the future will be a bright one for her.
“In the past with ex partners there have been issues with me being out late for runways or showing my body,” she said.
“I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost five years now and he’s nothing but supportive of modelling and my social media.
“We have a mutual respect for what each other does”
“The only challenge we face is that my partner can’t stand seeing trolls or hate comments on my page.
“But my friends and family have always been so supportive of everything I do and modelling is no exception.
“My friends have even travelled with me to shoots and my parents have attended runways and paid for test shoots when I first started.
“There are so many lovely things that people say to me, however it has to be the comments from people who thank me for helping them improve their self esteem or body image issues.
“Those make every hateful comments and messages worth it.”