Believe it or not, a swimsuit shot can do a lot. Which is why plus size model and influencer Alexa Phelece posted a split-screen photo on Instagram of herself and another model wearing the strappy one-piece.
“So here we have two girls in the same swimsuit. Let me just point out a few things,” Phelece began her caption. The bathing suit in question is a $40 khaki monokini from Fashion Nova. The suit features a crisscross cutout stretching over the stomach.
“Differences: One girl is in size Sm (I looked online) and one is in 3x- different skin colors – one may be considered privileged- one is more commonly seen as healthy based on size – one is more commonly recognized as beautiful on tv or media,” Phelece, the founder of everybodydeserveslove.org, continued.
“Similarities: Both are models – both are wearing the same swimsuit – LETS NOT FORGET: BOTH are beautiful – BOTH should be treated equally – both should be able to love their bodies – BOTH should be judged on the content of their character NOT their skin color and definitely NOT their size – Both women are equally capable and worthy. Let’s not forget that. Don’t let the news, the media, the fashion industry, your family, or anyone else tell you other wise. Diversity is what makes this world beautiful. Embrace it,” she concluded powerfully.
Clearly, seeing the side-by-side doesn’t shake her confidence. “I thought about how Photoshopped she was.” In fact, it made her more angry than anything. “I thought about how deceiving that photo is. I also thought about how so many women who purchased this bathing suit look nothing like the model in the photo, and that does not make us wrong, it makes us human,” she added.
Of course, just like all humans, Phelece has her insecurities. “I wore this bathing suit for an event that I hosted. I was so nervous to put it on because I normally would never put on a suit that is that revealing,” Phelece tells Yahoo Style. “I really had to push the boundaries of my self-confidence in order to go in front of a crowd of people in this bathing suit. I wanted to share my experience of stepping outside of my comfort zone with all of my followers.”
However, the response she’s gotten has surprised her.
“At first I was getting a lot of love and encouragement to continue my self love journey but it quickly got very negative,” she shares. “I received a lot of comments mentioning the status of my health and how I am promoting obesity.” She’s referring to comments like this one: “Girl from the right picture represents- laziness, obesity, and this type of post is just an excuse for fat persons, to continue leaving unhealthy life.”
“I am so heartbroken to see that there are so many people in the world that just spread hate. This whole post was supposed to be breaking the stereotypes that those two individual pictures carry based on our skin color and our sizes. I wanted to prove a point that not everything that you see on the outside reflects your inside and there’s so much more to a person in the physical appearance.” She thinks maybe some people just didn’t read her uplifting caption (because how could anyone who processed her powerful points still feel that negatively?!), “or maybe they did read my caption but they still chose to spread hate and ignorance instead of see the beauty behind my message.”
Phelece looks stunning in this bathing suit, and she knows it. “I thought that I looked really good in that photo. For the first time I was feeling pretty confident about wearing something so scandalous,” she admitted. “I thought it was pretty amazing that I’ve mentally grown to except and love myself even though I don’t look like the model in the photo. Confidence is such a mental skill and when you’re able to see that beauty exist in so many different forms, life gets so much better.”
And believe it or not, modeling is what has helped her gain confidence. “Modeling has really helped me understand that beauty comes in so many different shapes and sizes and it’s OK to be different,” Phelece explained. “Our differences are what make us so incredible as a society but in our world today so many people are judged and hated based off their looks and I really want to end all that.”
Unfortunately for this role model, this is one of the first times that she’s “really been cyberbullied,” she reveals. “It definitely hurts my feelings but more so I am disappointed in our society. I see all the women that are commenting on my photo and it makes me sad to think that they don’t want to stick together. I would think that us women should stick together and build each other not tear each other down!” she exclaims. “This can make it really difficult to stay positive sometimes. It really opens my eyes to see how terrible people can be.” Don’t get her wrong, the comments can’t get to her, but she’s worried about the people they can get to. “I am pretty confident and I don’t let people’s words get to me but imagine all the kids and young women and young men who are still working on their self-confidence, they can experience hate like this as well and it’s going to affect them so much more. That’s who I really worry about.”
While the responses have been difficult to endure, the photo has over 8,000 likes so far. “I think this picture got so much attention because I am pointing out a serious issue that needs to be addressed,” Phelece suggested. “There is so much hate in the world today that is purely based on our outer appearance and it is unacceptable. In my caption I mentioned the similarities and differences that are obvious to the basic eye but despite our similarities and our differences, we are still both beautiful women that need to be taken seriously and treated equally. I was trying to address issues of racism, anti-feminism, lack of confidence in women due to images like this, and the discrimination in the fashion industry. I think my honesty really got people thinking and made some noise on Instagram.”
Despite the hateful comments, Phelece is determined to “continue to post things like this and spread these important messages that our outer appearances do not define us and we should not be judged based on them.”
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