When a stranger insults you at the grocery store within earshot, I'm pretty sure the last thing you expect is that the exchange is going to result in both you and loads of other people actually feeling positively about your bodies. Well, that's basically what we're seeing when it comes to the social media campaign #WildAboutYou, launched by Wet 'n' Wild cosmetics in collaboration with the recipient of said insults: Joey Schleicher. Last December, Joey was shopping in her local supermarket when the woman in a pair of shoppers beside her began making comments about her weight. In her open letter "To The Fit Woman At Marketplace Foods," Joey writes, "You told your friend that it is sad that I am the size I am. Who is it sad for? You told your friend it was nice to see someone like me buy vegetables 'for a change.'" She also adds that the woman's slights about her health were extra-ironic, since she happened to have just returned from a workout.
Although a bit shaken by the fact that the nameless woman felt entitled enough to make such comments, Joey wasn't shaken. "Although I was irritated with your remarks, you didn't succeed in pissing me off. Although you really tried to fat shame me to the point humiliation, I cannot say you truly succeeded," she wrote. So here's where Wet 'n' Wild comes in: They were so touched by Joey's story that they decided to help counteract all of the negative comments that get uttered day-to-day and help spread some love on social media! They're encouraging women to share photos under the tag #WildAboutYou and Joey (hopefully along with other social media users, as well) will post individualized compliments to anyone who wants to be involved.
When I first read about the concept, I felt a bit ambivalent. The truth is that sizeism doesn't exist because we don't give enough compliments — it's because society values thinness and therefore fatness is both hated and feared, leading to the discrimination and marginalization of many people. But all people's bodies are policed, really. So can you imagine how awesome it would be if we could just end racism or sexism by giving Indigenous people, people of color, and women in general more compliments? It's not going to go down like that, but hey, a girl can dream. Ending stigma and oppression is going to take decades of hard work.
But then I clicked through the tag on Instagram. There were so many gorgeous women, bravely putting themselves out there for the world to see — and other women building them up. While the hashtag isn't going to end fat phobia or unrealistic beauty standards tomorrow, I do believe that we can't lose sight of the need to take care of each other. There needs to be room for both small acts of kindness now, and overarching work in the future, that have an endgame in sight. So yes, maybe this social media campaign isn't going to change the world: But it might change someone's day. If all we can do is send one kind message to someone else when they'd normally be bombarded with messages saying they're "not enough," then it's better than remaining silent.
Images: Wet 'n' Wild; Giphy