On New Year’s Eve, Melissa Gibson posted a celebratory photo of herself and her boyfriend all dressed up for the holiday. But she was disappointed to see the comment section fill up with negative posts about their bodies.
Gibson, a law student and body positive Instagrammer, was told that she was too heavy to be with her “thin” boyfriend.
“As a fat woman on the internet, comments about my weight and health are very common,” Gibson, 29, tells PEOPLE. “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. 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.”
“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,” she says. “I wanted to give a voice to the normality and naturalness of my relationship and other’s that look like mine.”
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Gibson thinks that part of the problem is the lack of visibility for “mixed-size couples” like herself and her boyfriend, Johnathan.
“There is very little representation of couples that look like Johnathan and I in our society,” she says. “Where there is, those relationships are presented as invalid or fetishistic for one reason or another.”
“The reality is that attraction comes in so many forms yet its only celebrated when its between two thin, conventionally attractive people, erasing and invalidating the many other beautiful couples that are in loving relationships.”
Gibson wants her post to change people’s perspectives.
“I hope it shows people that love comes in all shapes and sizes,” she says. That the reality is that thin or fit people have fat partners all the time. This is not abnormal, just under-represented and devalued.”