"You look so pretty for a girl your size!" "Wow, you don't even look fat in these clothes." "You'd be soooo hot if you were thinner."
Maya says her drawings have been directly inspired by her life. And this particular comic strip is no exception.
After repeatedly being told she "looks pretty for her size" and is "too cute" to be fat, Kern was sick of this delicately disguised fat shaming and decided it's time to address the issue the best way she knows how — through the power of her art.
Maya starts her comic by showcasing the common remarks plus-size women hear from strangers, friends, even family.
Wait, what kind of compliment is this?
Maya acknowledges that most of these comments are not malicious. But even then they are not doing any good.
"Body shaming is one of the stupidest things our culture does, but most people don't even realize it's happening, or that it's weird and wrong," Kern told A Plus.
"We're being told we are disgusting and that it can only be resolved if we buy certain foods, certain gym memberships, certain clothing and diet supplements. It's a never-ending spiral. "
"We've essentially been hoodwinked into this very narrow and incorrect idea of what 'healthy' is for the sake of selling products," she explains.
Maya hopes that her comic will inspire women and girls to question our culture's ideas of health, beauty, and happiness.
Because at the end of the day, the only person who needs to decide what's good for you is YOU.
When asked about what makes her feel better and more self-confident, Kern says it's two things — treating yourself well and spending time "unlearning" what media and society teach about body image.
"It's really hard because it involves something we are not taught to do: questioning things. Taking care of yourself is (for me) a very vulnerable and emotional process; questioning things allows me to be more analytical and to back up my vulnerability with fact," Kern told A Plus.
Maya's "treat yo self" theory perfectly reflects in one of the comics she drew after a heavily depressing period in her life.
"I'd been down for a multitude of reasons, not just weight-related, and I'd been awfully mean to myself. For some reason that day, I decided to put on my favorite set of cute underwear. I felt so overwhelmingly good and positive about myself that my whole day changed!" Kern recalls.
Check out her empowering comic below:
Think (Body) Positive is an A Plus original series featuring body positive advocates and thought leaders. Their goal? Encouraging you to love the skin you're in.