How do you turn a crude act of bullying into a powerful stand for self confidence and body positivity?
Take a cue from 14 year-old New Jersey resident and our newest ReachOut.com Youth Ambassador Carleigh O'Connell, who learned of an unkind act of graffiti directed towards her and decided not take it lying down. Instead, upon finding the wall where someone had spray painted the words “Carleigh’s ass”, she chose to climb up and strike a proud pose. The shot (shown here) was posted to her Instagram and later by her mom on Facebook with the following note on Carleigh's behalf:
"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."
The photo, along with these touching words, went on to be shared over 16,000 times by people of all ages across the world. "I didn't realize I was taking a public stand at the time," Carleigh told ReachOut.com of the courageous act that not only landed her on the radar of the Today Show, Teen Vogue and "Wonder Woman" Lynda Carter, but also inspired many personal notes from teens as far away as Chile and Australia.
Carleigh was so moved by the outpouring of support from young people who faced similar adversity that she sought out ReachOut.com as a resource she could share with those in need. "Sites like ReachOut.com, and Aboutface.org have a really positive message and were created for teens to have someone to talk to whenever they need it, day or night. Through amazing places like this, I’m happy knowing that no one has to suffer through this alone."
ReachOut is proud to stand with Carleigh in her campaign against bullying and body shaming, and we hope her bravery inspires others to speak out, seek help and discover the tools they need in the ReachOut Forums to conquer their own walls of negativity.
In Carleigh's own words to ReachOut readers: "Be strong. Be happy with who you are. There is help, guidance and support with places like reachout.com. It's ok to talk about things that hurt. I know. My experience hurt but I was determined to make a positive out of the negative."
For more information around body image and bullying