A Kiwi woman has achieved hero status (in our eyes at least) for shaming the bullies who laughed at her bikini body at the beach.
Shelly Proebstel, from Waipa, has set up a Facebook page, Bald and Beautiful, to change people's perceptions about beauty and body image.
"Let's change societies [sic] view that beauty is in our appearance and remind the world that is comes from within!", she encourages on her page.
And so when she took her sarong off at the beach in Mt Maunganui, to be met with laughter by a group of nearby men, she saw red.
"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," she said on her Facebook page. "I just want to say (excuse my language but) F... 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.
"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."
She continued, "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."
In her post she urged parents to teach their children "that there is no one body shape", but instead "a rainbow of beautiful bodies"; to look people in the eye, rather than stare at them, and to show acceptance and kindness to all.
"As a father to 2 pre-teen daughters I'm stoked to read what you've done, and more importantly, how you feel," commented one person on Shelly's Facebook page. "As I watch my daughters grow and see their influences coming from everywhere (friends, music, social media) I'm acutely aware of the challenges they'll face growing up in a world that is quite different to what it was 20 years ago... a lot more self-centered and judgemental. It's women like you that show self-worth, confidence and positivity doesn't come from trying to reach society's 'standards' but from within. I always try to remind my girls 'those who mind don't really matter, and those who really matter won't mind'. You need to be championed for empowering others, well done. Keep it up!"
Said another, "Good for you girl! I was just saying to my husband how come men can parade on the beach with fat beer gut and that be ok, when ladies are too scared if we are not perfect, such a bloody double standard."
"You are awesome, I wish I had your confidence but I'm working on it, 2019 is my time to shine. Power to me," said a third.
And power to you, Shelly! We salute you!
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