National Eating Disorders Association

The Positive Power of the Web

Sarah Haviland

Note: This article was originally written for and published on the Proud2Bme site.

The Internet has a bad reputation. With the click of a button, we can easily hurt one another, whether it be in regards to race, sex, religion, or appearance.

However, the Internet also posesses potential for good. One such example is Rachel Taylor’s Facebook post about an incident at Old Navy.

Rachel witnessed a mother and daughter joke about how big a plus-sized tank top was. Their remarks hurt Rachel, as she fit into that demographic. Despite her sadness, though, Rachel purchased the shirt, and posted a picture of herself wearing the shirt on Facebook. She reminded others to be conscious of the implications of what they said and told the victims that they should not let such occurrences ruin their lives.

The Internet is a community. It helps band many people together. Sentiments conveyed on the Internet can reach thousands, if not millions, of people. Rachel was able to take her pain and channel it in a positive manner. She did not let anybody else’s words damage her spirit. As a person in recovery from an eating disorder, I wish that I had Rachel’s confidence.

People can learn from Rachel that they should be judicious in their choice of words. I am ashamed to admit that I myself am guilty of the same action that the mother and daughter performed. It is easy to speak without thinking and not consider what one’s words mean.

People who viewed Rachel’s Facebook post may have been able to realize that they do not have to let other people’s beliefs hold them back. Rachel could have continued to feel miserable. Instead, though, she decided that a stranger’s opinion about her looks was less valid than her own feelings about herself.

Others besides Rachel have taken on the subject of body image. Twitter and Instagram also provide outlets for positive expression about body image. A Bust article highlights some Instagram accounts that support self-love, such as one from Danielle Vanier, a plus-sized fashion blogger.

Danielle posts pictures of herself from her daily life, in which she looks fabulous. Not only are her clothes enviable, but her personality is too. Happiness radiates from her page as she does not try to hide any part of whom she is, and encourages others to follow suit. Another example is @plumpbabydoll, who takes pictures of herself in which she uses hashtags such as #effyourbeautystandards and #curvesreign. Twitter has generated such trends as #thickgirlappreciationday, which encouraged women to tweet pictures of themselves loving their bodies for what they are.

There are many horror stories that color the Internet in a negative light. However, the Internet is not solely a land of malice. Rachel and others have tried to show people how they can and should accept themselves in their own skin. The Internet can help inform a broader network of people about how they should treat both themselves and others.

About this blogger: Sarah Haviland will be a freshman at Haverford College in the fall. She intends to major in Biology and minor in Comparative Literature. She loves riding her horse, Ultina. She has also interned in a science lab in the past, which she hopes to continue in the future.