A woman who was pointed and laughed at when she took off her sarong at the beach has shared an important message on social media: that a bikini body is just a body with a bikini on.
Shelley Proebstel was visiting Mount Maunganui Beach in New Zealand with her friend last week, when she received some unsolicited attention from a group of men.
After she was mocked for her physique, Shelley refused to be shamed into covering up, instead she used the incident to promote body positivity.
Taking to her blog and Facebook page, Bald and Beautiful, she asserted:
"To the guys who pointed and laughed when I took my sarong off today at Mt Maunganui Beach, bearing my soul (my bikini body) to the world, I just want to say (excuse my language but) F*CK YOU."
It’s because of dickheads like you that people are so incredibly insecure about their body image. It’s because of people like you that women especially don’t feel safe or confident or comfortable to go out in society in something like a bikini, or a crop top (they probably aren’t even called that anymore!) or a short dress, or with their midriff showing," she continued.
"It’s because of people like you that people starve themselves and make themselves sick in an attempt to maintain a ‘model-like figure'."
"It’s because of people like you that people wear long sleeves all year round because they are scared to show their arms. It’s because people like you that people become anorexic, obese, bulimic, self harm, commit suicide...I could go on... No, you are not responsible for the entirety. But YES, you have to take some responsibility."
"So next time you see someone like me on the beach in a bikini or in a situation similar, before you laugh and point, take a moment to think about the damage you may just do, because not every person, young or old, male or female, will have learnt to have the thick skin, or the resilience, or the self confidence, that I do to brush it off.
I won’t lie, there was a split second that I almost quickly covered up again, and then I reminded myself of all I have learnt on this journey, and I held my head high and stuck my belly out and wore that bikini with pride.
Parents, I urge you to teach your children that there is no one body shape, but instead that there is a rainbow of beautiful bodies. I urge you to teach them not to stare directly at a bigger stomach than they might be accustomed to seeing on tv or in society, but instead, to look at a persons face and into their eyes. I urge you to teach them to be kind to all types of people, regardless of their outer appearance. I urge you to teach your children to accept people for exactly who they are on the inside. And I urge you to teach your children to be role models to those around them who aren’t being taught this, and to be the positive change we need to see in the world, so that in 5 or 10 or 20 years time, no more people are pointed at and laughed at by the way they look when they wear a bikini on the beach."
The post caused quite a stir with Shelley's followers. It has since garnered over 33,000 likes on Facebook, and people were quick to express their admiration for her commitment to normalising all kinds of body types.