In early July, 14-year-old Mighty Girl Carleigh O’Connell took a courageous stand against body shaming and taught the kids at her school -- and people around the world -- an inspiring lesson about the power of self-confidence. When Carleigh heard from kids at her school that someone had written a body shaming slur across a large cement barrier at a beach in her New Jersey hometown, she decided to pose proudly for a picture with the graffiti in plain view.
After our Facebook post about Carleigh reached four million people and her story went viral, Carleigh wanted to share more about her story and offer advice to other teens who might also experience body shaming or bullying. Her guest blog post, as well as a selection of resource books and organizations for young people seeking advice or help, is below.
By Carleigh O’Connell, Guest Blogger
Carleigh in front of the graffiti
How does a 14-year-old girl stand up on a graffiti-covered rock that makes fun of her body, take a picture, and then have the picture go viral on the internet reaching over 4 million people? Well, it happened, and it happened to me.
I am not really sure what made me step up on the rock that day. I do know that I didn't hesitate to do it. I knew it my heart it was right, and looking back, I would make the same decision if I had it to do over again. This entire experience has been a whirlwind, and I have learned so much. One of the most valuable lessons I've learn is that sometimes you have to stand up for yourself when no one else will, and do what people don't expect you to do.
The way I saw it, I had a choice. I could have just walked away, cried in my room or tried to ignore it altogether, but that wasn't an option for me. I knew the moment I saw the graffiti that I had to respond, and that's exactly what I did. I responded back to someone's hurtful behavior instead of becoming the victim and letting them get away with it.
Some call this bullying; I just call it "mean." Whoever wrote this wanted to bring attention to themselves. I can only assume that they were trying to be funny or cool around their friends at my expense. So, I turned the tables and highlighted the fact that it wasn't about them, it was about me, and I am not okay with being someone's target or springboard for popularity. Continue reading Continue reading