In another incident of body-shamed women clapping back at haters, Melissa Gibson is speaking out after trolls flooded the comments of her New Year's Eve photo.
This time, the shamers weren't just giving her a hard time for daring to exist in her very curvy body. They took it even further.
They were slamming her and her slender boyfriend -- claiming that she's "too heavy" to be dating him.
Melissa Gibson is a law student. She's also a defiantly, proudly body-positive Instagrammer.
She knows that any time that she posts a photo, she's going to have haters trolling the comments.
Some will pretend to be concerned for her "health."
Others will just be straight-up hateful.
Why? Ultimately, they probably hope to make her feel bad in order to feel powerful. Which is profoundly sad
Like other body-positive women on the internet, Melissa knows this. She sadly expects these comments.
But when she posted photos of herself and her boyfriend, Johnathan, ringing in 2018 together, she got a different kind of criticism and hate.
She was told by haters that she was too large to be with her boyfriend, who is smaller than she is.
That's a horrible thing to say. Or think.
(And we'd wager that fewer of these haters would have said anything if it had been a smaller woman beside a larger boyfriend)
Speaking to People, Melissa Gibson spoke about the response that she received.
"As a fat woman on the internet, comments about my weight and health are very common."
That's terrible on its own.
"But these were especially disturbing because they were in reference to my relationship on a post that was about us celebrating the New Year together."
And, as she points out, it wasn't even a post in which she was drawing attention to her size. She was literally just standing beside her boyfriend, fully dressed.
"The post was innocent, nothing about our bodies -- but simply being visible with my thin boyfriend became an opportunity for strangers to express their opinions about fatness, my body and our relationship."
Melissa waited a couple of days after receiving the negative comments, and posted another photo with her boyfriend.
This time, her caption was prepared for this particular strain of haters.
"When taking a picture in a sparkly dress next to the man you love makes people comment about your body, question your relationship, make judgments about him for loving you."
It's a sort of fat-shaming by proximity, where people assume that there's something wrong with her partner that "explains" why he's with her.
Her caption continues: "Our relationship is political. Even though we both know how natural and right it feels."
"And if the world won’t just let us be, we will keep fighting for our love, for our space, for our right to be seen, accepted without question, and celebrated."
So many people have to do that, still, in 2018. It's so sad.
"In all honesty it’s silly to think it bothers people so much, but privileged people base their value on attraction and relationships."
"It results in the plethora of relationships that look like mine being erased and delegitimized. Like somehow I don’t deserve him or our love isn’t real."
That's a little complex, but basically, sometimes people feel threatened by people who don't look like they do, and by relationships that don't look like their own.
"We are exactly what each other wants, and guess what, our bodies are a part of that. It’s not a abnormal or a fetish."
"It’s simply natural. So while you insist on yelling your insecurities and bigotry at me, realize I’m not playing the game you play any longer."
Speaking to People about that follow-up post after her story went viral for all the wrong (and right) reasons, Melissa writes:
"I wrote that post not to the people who made judgments about our relationship, but for every person who has ever felt like they did not fit into the mold of what our society believes relationships look like."
"I wanted to give a voice to the normality and naturalness of my relationship and other’s that look like mine."
Plus size women, women of color, disabled women, and trans women can all have to deal with people called chasers. People who fetishize them for the same qualities that make bigots loathe them.
Some of these haters assume that Johnathan must be one such chaser.
But that's not what Melissa Gibson describes. She's just in a loving relationship that is, frankly, none of anyone's business.