In April, plus size model, kick-ass blogger, total girl boss and all round hero of mine, Callie Thorpe ended up in Vogue. The photo of her in a bikini was put into an article alongside the likes of Kendall Jenner and Ashely Graham.
Not long afterwards, in a move so sassy our heart’s swelled for her, Callie shared the article on Twitter with the caption: “To all the people that called me fat and ugly growing up, catch me on Vogue with your WCW.” It. Was. Awesome. And, as is often the case with blogging, the immediate response was sensational, we were so damn proud of her.
For years we women have wished for a body like Callie’s, for a body like our own, to appear in Vogue and then suddenly, there it was. A great day, made all the better by the fact that this couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. A role model in the Blogosphere already, Twitter was just so happy for Callie. Not just because she delivered the news with the sass that most of us can only dream of, but because Callie, whether she knew it or not, was paving the way for women everywhere. She was the proof of change in the fashion industry, she was exactly what we needed.
And then, something unthinkable happened.
Callie became a target.
Once her tweet had been picked up by news outlets all around the world (which in itself considering Callie is a plus size model, a WOMAN no less who is being un-ashadmedly proud of herself, is remarkable), people began trolling her. Except, I don’t want to use that word anymore. What happened to Callie wasn’t just ‘trolling’, a stupid word implying that these comments have come from oversized green monsters incapable holding an independent thought, what happened to Callie was abuse. People started abusing her.
This was nothing new to her; in an article published in Vogue this week Callie said “for as long as I’ve been blogging (five years this summer), I have endured mean comments about my weight, my size, my health…”
— British Vogue (@BritishVogue) August 8, 2017
Being trolled, sorry, abused, was something that she had come to expect and she’s not alone with that. Many of us will tell you, myself included, that after a while it starts to feel like part and parcel of daring to be different on a public platform in this day and age, but in Callie’s words, the comments in response to this were “a lot deeper” than they had been in the past.
I saw it for myself on Twitter, what Callie went through this summer was hell. She was sent death threats, truly abusive and violent messages, by the thousand, simply because of her weight.
Three weeks ago though, she decided that she would not take this lying down and she made a beautifully honest response video, which she uploaded to her YouTube channel and that has since been viewed over 85,000 times.
She describes herself at the beginning as a ‘normal’ girl, which in lots of ways she is. She doesn’t see herself as famous, she’s down-to-earth and hard working. Of course what she is too modest to say is that she is so NOT normal, due to her amazing strength and positivity, but whatever, she’s mostly right in her description; she didn’t ask for this, she is pretty normal.
It’s a hard video to watch. Callie cried, I cried, you’ll probably cry too.
She addresses the ‘vile’ and ‘abusive’ comments of which there were 900 on one article alone: “I want people to see the level of abuse that I receive and understand that it isn’t just me that receives it, it’s women on the internet…”
She then shared some of the comments that were made about her. They call her fat, they call her obese, the say she’s a ‘cow’, that she’s making them ‘puke’. One guys even goes so far as to say that “even fat men” wouldn’t find her “the least bit appealing” (oh hey hypocrisy).
She says “I’m fat, yes I am.” She then asks if that makes her less of a human being.
She addresses the lack of diversity, particularly regarding fat women, in the media and acknowledges that she was the ‘token’ in Vogue. She’s so honest and so real about this.
She finishes by saying: “realistically we can’t just pretend that it’s not happening. We do need to highlight the level of abuse that women are experiencing.”
“It’s absolutely okay to be who you are. No matter what body type you are, whether you’re fat, whether you’re thin, whatever colour you are, whatever background, what race, what culture, you do not deserve abuse.”
“I will not be silenced by people.”
Watch the video and I bet you any money that you can’t get to the end without an overwhelming urge to beat your chest and yell out your support in a Braveheart-esque battle cry.
And true to her word, Callie Thrope has not been silenced. She has continued to speak out about this, to show off her body, to run her blog, to love her husband, to get on with her life, all the while being a bloody inspiration. Her article in Vogue this week was just the beginning for her and I cannot wait to see what comes next.
Because I need Callie Thorpe.
In lots of ways she isn’t doing what she is doing for me. I am riddled with privilege. I am white and I am slim. Of course I am a woman with a voice so I am far from exempt when it comes to my fair share of abuse online, but where my body is concerned, I have it ‘easy’, or ‘easier’ anyway. I have never been told that I am going to die because of my weight or been aggressive and violently threatened because of my size. Sure, I’ve been called fat, it’s 2017, who hasn’t, but I’m not fat and that does, on paper, make everything easier for me.
But the lack of diversity in the media affects me too. Despite being a size ten, there aren’t an awful lot of women out there who look like me. Not when they sit down and their stomach rolls spill over their waistbands anyway. I’m not trying to compare myself in anyway to Callie, it’s so different, I am so lucky. But I do want it to be acknowledged that Callie is not just helping plus-size women, she is there for ALL women.
Whatever size you are, the lack of diversity in the media and the body-shaming culture that we find ourselves in, makes being a woman so hard. We are ALL under-represented. We are not supported. Despite my privilege, I have spent a very long time, very unhappy in my body and that has been made all the harder by having absolutely no one in my corner. There was nothing like this, no one like Callie when I was growing up and, as I fluctuated between a size eight and a size fourteen due, in the most part to an overwhelming unhappiness throughout my teen years, I was all too aware of a lack of support. Support that, after all of this time, is finally here.
I will never understand the extent of what Callie has been through and my hope is, nor will most of us.
But from me, a girl who has been in such dark places because of her weight, to her, a girl who is shining the brightest light on these issues, I need to thank Callie Thorpe, for everything.