It may be the 21st century, but young women today aren't exempt from the pressures of conforming to society's distorted beauty standards. If anything, the Internet has helped accelerate the media saturation of these images. But some young women are pushing back, and among them is 20-year-old Sara Petty whose body positive selfies on Twitter are becoming a social media sensation.
It began when Petty saw a tweet that said 200-something pound girls shouldn't be wearing bikinis. She scoured the website for more of the same posts. "Unsurprisingly," she told A Plus, "there was a ton!" And while Petty knew she would not be able to stop body shaming from happening, she also thought it would be worth trying to chip away at it.
So Petty decided to take selfies in the apparently "forbidden" clothing and posted them on Twitter with the caption: "Girls, wear whatever the hell you want."
"I was really nervous to post the pictures because obviously, women are a little wary of disclosing their weight and I knew posting semi-revealing photos on top of that was going to open up a chance for shaming and ridicule," Petty said. "But I figured if one woman felt more confident because of a tweet, it was worth it. I have been working out a lot recently and have lost a little bit of weight, so I was feeling very confident and #BodyPosi, so I went for it."
The college student — whose 16,000 strong Twitter following has responded with overwhelming support — said that she herself has struggled to reach this level of confidence with her body, but pointed out how great it feels now that she's there.
"Regardless of if you're chubby with cellulite or toned with a six pack, your body is yours," she said. "It will always be yours, so it is so crucial to love it in all of its forms. I've stumbled a lot on my journey toward body positivity and confidence, but I'm here now and it feels so incredible. Every girl deserves to feel that - every girl deserves to feel like she's absolutely beautiful."
It's not the first time Petty's advocated for body positivity. She's defended herself against criticism of her weight — from grown adults, no less.
Petty told us that she knows her viral Twitter post won't do away with body-shaming, but she hopes it can help others.
"While I hope my tweet has helped end [body-shaming] in some way, I know it will always be there," she said. "What I hope is that people struggling with body image are able to see the tweet and take the body-shaming and take the hate and look past it. I hope that at least some women are able to brush hateful comments to the side and radiate unwavering self-confidence despite it."