Plus size model Alexa Phelece routinely uses her Instagram to post body positive shots of herself in swimsuits and curve-hugging fashions.
Through her posts and uplifting messages, Phelece has grown her following to nearly 80K. However, her largely supportive fans weren’t as encouraging when the model posted a picture of herself and a much thinner woman wearing the same swimsuit – a $40 khaki monokini from Fashion Nova.
“So here we have two girls in the same swimsuit. Let me just point out a few things,” Phelece captioned the splitscreen photo.
“One girl is in size Sm (I looked online) and one is in 3x- different skin colors," she continued. "– 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 said.
However, it was the similarities the Instagram influencer listed that whipped her followers into a frenzy.
“Both [women] are models – both are wearing the same swimsuit," Phelece said. "LETS NOT FORGET: BOTH are beauty – 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.”
Her empowering speech is in line with other captions the Every Body Deserves Love founder has posted. This time, though, her fans were not feeling the love.
“At first I was getting a lot of love and encouragement to continue my self love journey but it quickly got very negative,” she told Yahoo Style. “I received a lot of comments mentioning the status of my health and how I am promoting obesity.”
On the photo, which received over 8,000 likes, one woman commented, “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.”
And another person wrote, “’Fat but Fit’ is a myth. There are a myriad of studies out there that all come to the same conclusion. Being overweight, especially obese (yes, she IS obese), increases your risk of heart disease. Love yourself all you want, but you can't deny reality that your weight puts you at risk for an early death. Period.”
Phelece, who told Yahoo Style that she was “heartbroken” to see the amount of hate her photo received, feels that women need to build each other up more rather than attack each other over physical differences.
Still, she is addressing the hate head on in her follow-up posts calling out those who have “fat shamed” and accused her of “promoting obesity,” and posting the ways she stays healthy like exercising and embracing her curves.