After Being Publicly Body-Shamed, Teen Girl Responds in the Most Awesome Way
byKaitlin StanfordJul 09, 2014
Getting over high school taunts isn't easy — especially when you're a teenaged girl, and the digs being hurled your way are about your body. But then again, there's a difference between getting teased in the hallway and having cruel words written about you so the whole town can see — which is unfortunately what one 14-year-old from Wall, N.J., had to endure recently.
It was a friend who first told ninth-grader Carleigh O'Connell about the graffiti. In large letters, scrawled across a cement block along the ocean in her town, were the words "CARLEIGH'S ASS" — spray-painted for all to see.
At first, she was understandably upset. Who wouldn't be? Having your rear-end (or any body part, for that matter) mocked in public is difficult stuff to swallow, at any age. But instead of retreating into her room and walking the school halls in embarrassment, something amazing happened: Carleigh decided to turn the public barb into something good.
So she put on her bathing suit, went down to the ocean, and stood atop the cement block that bore her name. Standing in her bikini, she posed with it — proudly — as a friend snapped her photo. Then she shared it on Instagram.
No one was more moved by Carleigh's reaction to it all than her mother, Daryl, who in turn posted the photo on her Facebook page, urging friends to share it. Her impassioned post has since gone viral, being shared almost 4,000 times.
It reads, in part:
"She decided that she was going to be stronger than hurtful words on the concrete and that she was going to be proud of her figure. She also told me that she feels complete sympathy for the teenagers across the country who face this everyday. She understands and wants all of them to find strength inside to rise above the nastiness and be empowered by who you are, how you are made and what is in your heart."
So for me as the mom ... I type this with tears in my eyes. Not tears of sadness or anger for I will never give anyone that is mean that much power. Tears of joy knowing that my daughter can face negativity with a smile and sense of humor. This will take her far in life. No perfect report card, high test score, athletic race or award could top the pride I have today."
We couldn't agree more.
News of Carleigh's body-positive photo has been sweeping the Web, and racking up tons of supportive comments in the process.
"Carleigh rocks!!! She is awesome and beautiful!" one commenter wrote on her mom's post.
"I thought about Carleigh all day today," another wrote. "I really admire how she's handling this situation. I know you must be very proud of her. Tell Carleigh I think she's booty-ful!"
As for Carleigh, she's overwhelmed by the response to her photo so far.
"I didn't know I could look something in the face like that and conquer it," she told TODAY. "The biggest message I want to get across is just to be strong, and that anyone who is experiencing bullying and anything like that, that they're not alone and there's people there for them — and I'm one of them."