A Vancouver model who was devastated to find her image had been stolen and digitally altered for a body-shaming site is speaking out against the online bullying.
Ruby Roxx, whose real name is Jen Palsenbarg, said she was miserable when she discovered that a photo from one of her lingerie shoots had been appropriated for a Facebook page called Project Harpoon.
Contributors edit photos of plus-sized celebrities, models, and regular men and women to make them look much thinner. An apparent creator behind the project told Buzzfeed that it's intended to promote "a healthy lifestyle and simply showing how great people could look if they trimmed a few pounds."
Roxx's image was posted as the online harassment campaign's profile picture last month.(Click to slide the arrow below to see the before/after photo.)
The model only found out about the Facebook group — and her stolen photo — when a fan sent her the link.
"I couldn't believe that someone would have that much time on their hands," Roxx, 31, told The Huffington Post B.C. in a phone interview Tuesday.
Normally, the model would have brushed off the criticism, but not this time.
On her blog, Roxx wrote an open letter titled, "Dear Project Harpoon":
First, what I really want to say is F*** YOU….but I don’t want to start my letter off with even more hate. You’ve already put enough of that out into the world, so instead, I will say THANK YOU. Thank you for showing me that I have the drive and determination to fight bullies like you ... I am a strong, confident, plus model, who is PROUD of her body. It has gotten me through 31 years, of health, sickness, pain, freedom, love and adventure. My body and I have been through a lot together, and I will not let online bullies such as you make me feel bad about loving myself."
The group's Facebook, Twitter, Instagram accounts have been suspended — but Roxx's photo has already popped up again on other Project Harpoon posts on social media.
Roxx said that she won't be pursuing any legal action. But she will be focusing her energy on transforming something so hateful into something inspiring.
She explained that she struggles with anxiety and depression, and the photo left an impression.
"For a couple days, it was in the back of my head. It really threw me for a loop. But it wasn't just my picture that bothered me — it was pictures of everybody else," she said.
Roxx, who has been modelling for seven years, received messages from girls in tears who saw her as a role model and were hurt by the page.
"That upset me, and affected me more than seeing my picture in the first place," she told HuffPost B.C.
"We are no less valuable at 200 pounds [than] we are at 120 pounds... We have just as much potential as a size 14 as we do as a size two.
"I want them to think of the things they love about themselves rather than what some guy is saying behind a screen," Roxx added. "I hope people can understand that they are more."
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