After experiencing multiple health issues as a child, body-confidence coach Michelle Elman gained a bunch of weight and developed a scar on her stomach. By the time she reached her preteen years, she'd begun to feel like the "fat friend," Cosmopolitan reports.
Most of us are familiar with this stereotype. In movies and on TV, she's often the sidekick there for comic relief but rarely the protagonist. And she seldom gets a love story. As a consequence of these media portrayals, plus-size women often get pigeonholed this way in real life. But Elman refused to be.
"There's a stereotype around being the 'fat girl' in a friendship group," she observed in an Instagram post. "She's the one who sits on the sidelines and never joins in. She's the one perpetually single [who] sits silently while all her friends discuss their love life because god forbid, if she actually finds a boyfriend, she would never be comfortable naked or in the bedroom. She's the insecure one, the one constantly complaining about her body and talking about diets. I couldn't call bullshit more on this stereotype. Since the age of 11, I have always been the 'fat' friend but I have never been THAT girl."
Despite knowing this, one last fear lingered with Elman for years: wearing a bikini. But around two years ago, she broke through that barrier, and she now has no second thoughts about showing her skin — and participating in everything "fat friends" are supposedly excluded from.
"Once it was on, it was one of the most liberating feelings to know that I wasn’t letting two pieces of material stop me from being comfortable in my own body," she wrote in another post. "My belief is that no one should have to feel ashamed of their body, whether you have stretch marks or a C-section scar so... THIS summer, let’s stand up and be proud of our scars and what they represent — a story!"
Despite what the tabloids tell us about "bikini bodies," everyone deserves the right to swim in whatever outfit they please. And as Elman eloquently points out, everyone deserves to be the protagonist of their own story, no matter their size.
Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?