Fitness as one person knows it often isn't an ideal of fitness for another. That could be because of differing lifestyles, ability, or even just because the notion of fitness holds another definition to each other. But, regardless of where most people stand with fitness, it often comes with the overwhelming belief that the only goal is weight or fat loss, as opposed to taking care of your body in the state that it is in. The internet is inundated with fitness and wellness accounts - mostly glittered with privileged bodies - and the said inundation shows no sign of slowing down as the wellness sector booms. Body ideals surrounding the sector frequently dictate how people think recognised figures should look, meaning that even some of the most privileged bodies in the social media sphere experience trolling for not being 'enough'.
Chessie King is a British fitness blogger, and recently partnered up with The Cybersmile Foundation, an anti-cyberbullying non-profit, in an effort to highlight the amount of online abuse that takes place across social media, as well as showing its impact on young people. Research conducted by Data and Society Research Institute showed that 47% of internet users have 'personally experienced online harassment or abuse', and King's Instagram became Cybersmile's latest campaign setting.
Despite living in a privileged body, Chessie finds herself putting up with extreme levels of online abuse, more often than not telling her that her body doesn't fit into the fitness industry, amongst hundreds of other comments from trolls. Her trolls soon became an integral part of her campaign, which started with her posting a series of photos and videos onto her Instagram stories for her 330,000 followers. As the trolls piped up, Chessie took the original images and altered them 'in real-time' with the help of post-production apps, all directly responding to the comments left by trolls.
One troll wrote to her saying, 'she so fatty'. Chessie took to her app and digitally shrunk her waist in the image and reposted. Another wrote to her on another post, saying, 'you don't even fill out your sports bra'. Chessie's response? Boom: bigger boobs. As she digitally altered her body according to how the trolls wanted it to look, it didn't take long before her pictures were unrecognisable (and honestly, ridiculous looking).
“I laughed at the image initially,” Chessie told Mashable about her 'before' and 'after' photos from the campaign. “However I then realised how sad it is that some girls feel that they need to change their bodies to be ‘beautiful'.” The blogger said she was “overwhelmed” by the support that the campaign received and hopes that it's opened some eyes to the abusive nature of social media. “I really hope that this helps anyone at any age who could have [any number of followers] to know that they’re not alone and there is help out there,” she added. “I also hope this will inspire people to shut the trolls out and refuse to take horrible messages to heart.”
In this digital age, trolling is more than keyboard warriors. It's dangerous and damaging to those on the receiving end of it. The campaign shows the level of abuse that Chessie receives on a regular basis, which just goes to show how staggering the amount of abuse is that marginalised bodies receive for merely existing in society. (Not only that, but how warped our perceptions of what a body should look like really is.)