An Australian woman has hit back after being bombarded by trolls online over her semi-nude modelling shots.
Nursing assistant, Ashleigh Atkins, from the Blue Mountains in NSW, says that the hate she received after starting her body positive TikTok account was so severe that she has already quit social media three times this year.
The 24-year-old size 20 model, who frequently posts nude or semi-nude images from her photoshoots on Instagram, first got into modelling at the age of 19. Since then she has amassed a following of well over 117K on Instagram.
She says that the majority of her followers are wonderful people who comment on her pictures telling her that she has inspired them to love their own bodies.
However, a select few trolls have caused Ashleigh hurt, posting nasty comments about her ‘damaging her health.’
Ashleigh says modelling has allowed her to feel empowered and the anonymous voices of a few mean-spirited individuals isn’t going to stop her from doing what she loves.
“Our value as human beings does not decrease with weight gain or increase with weight loss. Regardless of appearance, people deserve basic human respect,” Ashleigh said.
“I think that while I’ve noticed a growing acceptance of bigger models since I started modelling, there is definitely still a way to go.
“I am on the smaller end of ‘plus size’ and I don’t face half the challenges bigger models do.
“I have noticed that even in the smaller range there is the preferred plus size shape, the hourglass.
“I would love to see more women with different body shapes and bigger sizes hired and represented in fashion.”
Ashleigh went on to say that she has endured a “rough time” on social media recently after starting a TikTok account, where trolls nastily commented on her weight, her health and how her stomach looked.
“It was intense. I had to take a little break from all social media when a troll made their way into my Instagram DMs and wished cancer on me,” she said.
But with the support of her family, friends and her MMA fighter boyfriend of five years, Ben, Ashleigh is certain that the future will be a bright one for her.
“I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost five years now and he’s nothing but supportive of modelling and my social media,” she said.
“We have a mutual respect for what each other does”
“The only challenge we face is that my partner can’t stand seeing trolls or hate comments on my page. “
Ashleigh said it makes it all worth it when she realises her online presence has made a difference in her fans’ lives.
“There are so many lovely things that people say to me, however it has to be the comments from people who thank me for helping them improve their self-esteem or body image issues,” she said.
“Those make every hateful comments and messages worth it.”
Reporting by Australscope