Sadly, the reality of having any kind of online presence in this day and age seems to come hand in hand with receiving negative and abusive comments. It’s unpleasant, upsetting, and sometimes, deeply personal.
A popular British fitness blogger did something rather unusual with the negative Instagram DMs she received after posting shots of herself working out on her Instagram Story. She Photoshopped the images to reflect the abusive comments left by trolls and added them to her Story. And, the results were nothing short of terrifying.
Chessie King worked with anti-cyberbullying non-profit organisation Cybersmile to highlight the harmful effect of online abuse on young people.
King, who has over 330K Instagram followers, posted a series of photos and video of herself on her Instagram Story. Those photos and videos were then “altered in real-time” to reflect the replies she was receiving from trolls.
Trolling is something that’s sadly become part of King’s everyday life as an Instagram blogger. But, research shows that it’s not just bloggers and influencers who receive online abuse. Research conducted by Data and Society Research Institute found that 47 percent of internet users have “personally experienced online harassment or abuse.”
“I always receive some form of trolling,” King told Mashable. She says that the amount of trolling has increased over the past six months since she starting being more open about herself on social media. “I mostly receive messages that I am ’too big to be in the fitness world’, ‘too tall for a girl’ or telling me that my contouring is awful—when the dark patches on my skin are actually from my acne scarring,” says King.
After receiving a reply which read, “She so fatty,” King posted a image of herself where her waist size had been digitally altered. “You don’t even fill out that sports bra,” wrote another troll. King then added an image in which her chest size and waist size were both altered.
As more comments came in, more and more alterations were applied. By the end of the experiment, King was barely recognisable.
King says that when she saw the final Photoshopped version of herself she felt amused at first, and then she felt sad.”I laughed at the image initially however I then realised how sad it is that some girls feel that they need to change their bodies to be ‘beautiful,'” says King. But, she was heartened and “overwhelmed” by the support she received following the campaign.
King hopes the images will resonate with others who’ve experienced online abuse, and to reassure others that they’re not alone in experiencing abuse.
“I really hope that this helps anyone at any age who could have 25 followers to over 2 million followers to know that they’re not alone and there is help out there,” says King. “I also hope this will inspire people to shut the trolls out and refuse to take horrible messages to heart.”