Curvy model responds to 'vile and humiliating' cyberbullying: 'It's not right'

Many fashion editors remain behind the scenes for their work, seen only in the front row at Fashion Week or at high-profile parties. Not so Glamour fashion features editor Lauren Chan. She’s not only a writer and advocate of fashion for all sizes, but she was once a model, and she was on the catwalk during New York Fashion Week’s Chromat spring-summer ’18 show, looking spectacular in a red swimsuit.

Lauren Chan on the Chromat runway. (Photo: Getty Images)
Lauren Chan on the Chromat runway. (Photo: Getty Images)

“Becca McCharen-Tran the designer [of Chromat] is a dear friend of mine, and for the past few seasons she’s been joking to me, ‘Lauren, you should really consider walking in our show,” Chan tells Yahoo Style. “This time around, I decided to take her up on it. I really felt like this season was pivotal in change for plus-size models and people of different sizes as a whole. I felt like now was the time to practice what I preach.”

But after crossing New York Fashion Week off her bucket list, Glamour features editor Lauren Chan’s big moment was almost ruined by negative personal attacks on Instagram.

“This was the first time that I’d experienced such an intense influx of negativity,” Chan says. “It wasn’t just negativity like, ‘I don’t like your swimsuit and I don’t like the way you look.’ Not to give these words power by repeating them, but they were comments about me, my character, my health. They were really aggressive and vile. They were all from locked profiles, and most of them were men. That particular pattern really jarred me as a feminist.”

While this was going on over the weekend, Chan was also attending theCurvyCon, where she hosted a fireside chat with her friend the model Precious Lee. Lee and several body-positive bloggers Chan spoke to that day said they knew exactly what she was experiencing.

“I have so much more respect for the women that put themselves out there and sacrifice a little bit of their mental health daily to help other women feel better,” Chan said.

In a Facebook post that Chromat later posted on Instagram, she shared what she was going through and responded to the haters. “Women like me are not here for your s***,” Chan wrote. “We are not here to be policed. We are not here to serve as sex objects. We are not here to keep quiet. We are not here to look or behave or talk in a way that makes you feel comfortable.”

Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Leive took to her personal Instagram account when she saw what these haters were writing.

“What got under my skin here was the fact that the subject of criticism wasn’t me (which is annoying but happens all the time) but rather a beloved member of my staff, a woman who puts herself out there on a regular basis and is one of the most phenomenally positive people on the planet to boot,” Lieve tells Yahoo Style via email. “I had maybe a bit of a mama bear reaction to it, in that it really pissed me off that somebody was messing with the psyche and happiness of the women and men who work on our team here. Obviously, we don’t respond to every negative comment, nor should we — nor should anyone! — but in this case, it seems really important to me to establish that my Instagram, and also Glamour‘s, are places for positive, constructive debate.”

What do you see when you look at this picture? I see a talented fashion writer, former varsity athlete, and most of all a HUMAN—@lcchan, my colleague here at @glamourmag. But when I posted a picture of Lauren proudly strutting down the runway at Friday’s @chromat show (swipe to see), I was at first startled and then nauseated by some of the comments—too insulting to legitimize by repeating here, but vile and humiliating; they jeered at and mocked her body. The comments on Lauren’s own Instagram were even worse—all men, she said, all vicious, and most with anonymous profiles. (When she told one to get off her page, he told HER to get off her page and onto a treadmill.) She ended up staying off social media for most of what should have been a triumphant champagne-filled weekend, and that both breaks my heart and pisses me off. To state what should be obvious: Critiquing women’s bodies is not OK. And not just because Lauren is healthy and fit. She is, but that isn’t the point, since I don’t believe these commenters really care about her wellbeing; this is caveman misogyny disguised as medical opinion. And while you’re welcome to say what you want about me on my page (thick skin comes with the job), I won’t let you run down my beautiful colleagues, especially when they’re putting themselves out there to help OTHER women feel gorgeous. Trolls: Women don’t need your permission to look how they want, do what they want, and most certainly they do not need to measure up (or down) to your contrived ideas of how women should appear. If you don’t agree, please leave. And if you DO agree, if you DO believe that all bodies are beautiful and that every one of us has the right to feel freaking amazing in the skin we’re in—well, then, raise a glass with me to Lauren, and to every woman out there willing to be herself on a daily basis. There are a lot of us.

A post shared by Cindi Leive (@cindi_leive) on Sep 12, 2017 at 7:18am PDT

Leive was particularly disturbed by the way the men making these comments spoke about Chan’s medical well-being. “There are other times and places for discussions and debates about weight and its implications for health, but it seemed clear to me that this was basic sexism dressed up as medical opinion,” she told Yahoo. “If you truly care about women’s health and well-being, maybe start by not insulting them on social media. I didn’t want to let that stand and wanted to correct it.”

Since both Leive and Chromat’s McCharen-Tran posted about her on Instagram, Chan says she’s been inundated by supportive messages from friends, people she idolizes, and strangers. She’s been busy this week trying to respond to all of them. Out of so much negativity has come something positive: “I’m happy that this all happened, because now we have this squad: me and Cindi and Becca and Glamour and Chromat,” she says. “And this week our mission was to take a stand for women everywhere who get s*** on the internet, because it’s not right.”

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