Instagram influencer Flo opens up about body shaming

Body shaming is a growing concern among young people, but what can be done about it?

Many young people are campaigning against body shaming these days, but ironically it is usually young people who body shame other young people. Florence Grace Matthews is a presenter and self- love advocate who was body shamed while holidaying in Malta this summer.

While at the Lost and Found Festival 2019, Flo was walking around the venue when she overheard a group of boys having a conversation behind her.

“I was wearing a bikini and I had all matching makeup and accessories. I honestly felt [that] I looked the best I’ve ever looked in my life.” Flo explained how she felt incredibly “confident” in herself before she noticed the group of boys behind her. “I was aware of this big group of boys walking behind me and my boyfriend, and then I started hearing comments about being fat and being disgusting.” Flo then explained that one of the boys in the group said “I can’t walk behind that” before the entire group crossed over the road.

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“I was so embarrassed and humiliated. And then the same happened again when we left the pool party.” Flo explained how this time it was a group of boys and girls. “I was really embarrassed and I just wanted to go home, I wanted to book the next flight back from Malta to England. But my boyfriend wouldn’t let me as he didn’t want the nasty people to win.” Flo then spent the rest of the day in her hotel room, sulking over her phone and posting about the ordeal online.

When Flo started sharing her story online, she gained a lot of attention. “It was picked up by Annie Mac, the founder of the festival. She shared it on her [Instagram] stories and then suddenly everything just blew up and from there loads of cool stuff happened. I was interviewed by the Metro and BBC Radio One. I went viral for four days. It was an overwhelming period of time in my life.”

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Pic: Florence Grace Matthews

Flo said that she believes “people who body shame are just really insecure in themselves. They’re projecting their own insecurities and when they see someone who makes them feel insecure, they don’t like it so they bully them and bring them down.”

Although the bullies are clearly responsible for their own actions, the media also plays a role in the ideals and perceptions that people have. “I absolutely think that the media needs to be held accountable, they are 100% responsible and they are constantly pushing these really out of reach ideals onto us and we are constantly striving to meet them.”

Flo has been advocating for self-love and body confidence ever since she fell in love with herself and her body, which was long before the body shaming incident in Malta. “When I saw how much it changed my life, being so confident in my own body that’s when I thought, you know what? I want EVERYONE to feel the way that I feel right now, I want everyone to have this revelation that I’ve had, to feel the way that I do, to have this massive shift in mentality and I thought I’ve just got to start getting people to this place!”

Flo advocates self-love and body confidence through her blog www.lovefromflorencegrace.co.uk, her podcast Blossoming and her Instagram account (@blossominguk) where she posts photos promoting being confident in one’s body. Being body shamed hasn’t stopped Flo from loving herself. In fact, it has made her more determined to help others love themselves.

Flo’s Top 3 tips for becoming more body confident:

CURATE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA “Don’t follow people who make you feel bad about yourself.”

POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS & POST-IT-NOTES “Leave little love notes to yourself in places you don’t expect to find them AND in places that you will look every day. Write things on them that you need to see like ‘I am worthy’ or ‘My body is fabu- lous regardless of its shape or weight”

MAKE SURE YOU PRIORITISE YOURSELF Treat YOU the way you would treat a partner, a best friend or your sister, and if you wouldn’t say it to them or behave that way to them, then don’t with yourself”

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