NEWS
09/02/2015 09:53 EDT | Updated 09/02/2016 01:12 EDT

Plus-sized model takes on online bullies who used her image

A plus-size model who was the target of online harassment says the online attacks won't change her.

Ruby Roxx is a Vancouver model and editor of Beauty Mark Magazine. Recently, a fan told her that she had been victimized by Project Harpoon — an internet group which takes photos of plus-size models, actresses and even everyday people, and Photoshops them into a size and shape they consider more appealing.

The victims also often end up as the target of hurtful comments posted online.

Those behind Project Harpoon took a modelling photo Roxx had posted and created an unrealistically thin version of her.

"The first thing I noticed was how badly the Photoshopping was done," she said. "They've really transformed these women into idealized forms of beauty. They've made their waists much smaller and their arms much smaller and their legs much smaller, but their curves are still exactly the same, conveniently."

"It's completely unnatural."

Roxx says groups like Project Harpoon perpetuate unrealistic beauty standards for women, and contribute to the spread of eating disorders. She wrote in a blog post that being shamed on the Project Harpoon Facebook page worsened her anxiety and depression, and she was concerned about what it was doing to women who were less confident than herself.

Decides to take on bullies

At first, Roxx tried to ignore the bullies and what they were doing to women like herself. However, she eventually decided to act after receiving messages from women who were being shamed on the page or looked like the women being shamed.

In a widely shared blog post, she wrote about moving past the bullying and encouraged women to not let the cyberbullies get them down.

"I wanted to turn a negative into a positive," she said. "Cyberbullying is not going away, but I think we need to help those affected by cyberbullying."

"I just wanted everyone to know that what we look like on the outside does not define us as people. We're no less valuable at 200 pounds as we are at 100 pounds."

Eventually, Roxx and others were able to get the Project Harpoon page taken down from Facebook, but now the harassers have decentralized, sharing images on social media.

Roxx says for now, she's just keeping her eyes out for further unauthorized uses of her photos and reporting when she sees them.

To hear the full interview, click the audio labelled: Vancouver plus-sized model and beauty editor takes on trolls