Chelle left the project after the Huffington Post article activated all the trolls and haters around her. And she isn't even in the article!!!
My heart is breaking. And not because she left.
But because I know she is a very strong person and if she left, that means shit really hit the fan!
Chelle has been the most heavily trolled person on this project. People take her weight very personally and showered me and her with self rages attacks.
This is her farewell statement.
"I did what I came to do. I put myself out there to challenge preconceptions and to inspire others and to challenge my own views on my body and beauty.
But my time is done for now. While I am so glad the project is gaining national recognition, I am starting to get negative reactions personally that go beyond strangers trolling and harsh words. My job and career is now unfortunately at stake with the ever growing exposure and I have decided to pull my photos out of the project.
Thank you for giving me a space to be seen and heard. Thank you for the work you do. It is so important and I'm honored I got to be a part of it."
This is her original statement.
"How do I start? There is so much that has happened in my relatively short 35 years that has led me to where I am now. I could fill novels about my relationship with my own mind and body. Most of it negative and unbalanced. Most of it shameful, hateful and rageful. I started my ‘dieting’ when I was only ten, when I should’ve been worried about piano lessons, and sleepovers. When all I should’ve cared about was my dog, my homework and my blossoming love of music. Instead, I started to hate my body. You can see the shift in pictures at that age. I went from happy and free, smiling like there wasn’t a care in the world, to withdrawn and sad. People didn’t know then(and a lot probably still don’t) but I had already started on the dangerous path of an eating disorder. I became obsessed with food. Feeling shame for every god-damned calorie I put in my mouth. Starving myself for the sake of “health” even though I hadn’t even finished growing yet. And then in the haze of starvation, spiraling into depression where I didn’t care anymore and would binge behind closed doors until I couldn’t move. This cycle happened for close to 23 years. In and out of severity and taking different shapes, but still happening until only a couple years ago.
At 16, when I was sad I didn’t have a date to prom, the words “You have such a pretty face, if only you’d lose some weight you could have any guy you wanted” were spoken to me. Those words still haunt me. They made things worse. I started to become suicidal. I gained weight, and gained weight and gained weight. I now know that it was the combined result of an undiagnosed thyroid disorder, disordered eating from familial and peer pressure and the simple fact that it was genetic. But it was my fault. I was unlovable and gross and it was all MY fault. Because I couldn’t “control” myself. At least that was what I was led to believe.
At 23, I married my best friend. He’s the most supportive, most amazing person I could’ve ever hoped for. But for so long, in the back of my head, I just couldn’t understand what he saw in me. I was fatter than I had been at 16 and if I couldn’t get a guy then, why should I be able to now? It had to be some long running practical joke right? There had to be some ulterior motive. Right? Maybe something was wrong with HIM! (BTW we have now been married for 12 years and he loves me more than ever :))
At 24 I first hurt my back. Very badly. A ruptured disc that has since been diagnosed as Degenerative Disc Disease. And I now have one fully ruptured disc, and two other herniated ones. It has derailed my life. My plans. Everything. The spiral started all over again. More weight gain. More pain. More sorrow. More suicidal thoughts. I was fat AND broken...what good was I now?
I have been in and out of therapy and treatment programs and I’m happy to say I believe I’m now truly on my way to recovery. There’s been a shift in my thinking. It’s not going to stop overnight. It probably will never fully go away and I’m learning to accept that. 2/3rds of my life hating myself is a lot to undo. My back is still an issue but I’m not confined to a wheelchair yet and I can dance again. I’ve started to love my body. To nourish it because it does so much for me, to gently work out my muscles with yoga, and to dance to the music in my soul. But here’s the thing. I’m not in it to lose weight anymore. To try to achieve that unattainable standard of beauty that is thrust on us is just that...unattainable. The statistics of people with eating disorders is frightening. If I get thinner, fine, if not, fine. My goal now is a journey of self love. My body is worth loving, and worth respect. Just the way it is. No matter how able or broken, thin or fat, well or sick. It deserves love no matter what. I will do my best to take care of it from now on and listen to it. It will find it’s own rhythm if I can help provide the beat.
Do not judge me as you do not know me and have not walked my path. Do not shame me for things that you know nothing of and are none of your concern. My journey is my own. But I hope that my own journey will inspire others. If I can help just one person reach inside and help derail the toxic thought patterns that society has thrust upon us, then my pain and vulnerability is worth it.
I bare my whole self and let my light shine, so that others may catch fire and burn brighter."