YouTube star Meghan Tonjes is a vocal advocate of body positivity, but there was a time in her life when that concept was totally unfamiliar to her.
“Growing up I didn’t really know what body positivity was. That wasn’t a phrase or term I ever heard,” Tonjes said during the Body Positivity panel at the Marriott Platinum Ballroom at VidCon 2016 on Friday. “It’s become more apart of my life the last few years, but I really view it as a desire to feel comfortable in your body with how it is.”
She continued, “There’s no perfect path to that by any means. It’s not like you just decide one day I’m going to be happy with my body and that just happens.”
The singer-songwriter, who often posts body-positive videos, went on to say that she believes “body positivity is a journey.”
Visit HackHarassment.com to learn more about an initiative to make the internet a safer community.
“It’s making ‘no’ an active choice every day, to feel comfortable exactly how … you are and where you are,” said Tonjes, who sat on the panel with Lyndsay Rae, Nabela Noor and Jessamyn Stanley.
WATCH: Tyler Oakley Opens Up At VidCon 2016 About How Hurtful Internet Trolls Can Be
Tonjes also admitted that she “grew up not feeling very good about myself.”
“My parents sent me to fat camp,” she shared. “I was teased constantly. I pushed through a lot of that to pursue things that I wanted to do, whether it was in music or theater or whatever.”
• WATCH the new famous at INSTANT.me. Join the conversation with the hashtag #INSTANT and experience INSTANT online @instantdotme (Twitter), @instantdotme (Instagram), @instantdotme (Snapchat), Facebook.com/instantdotme (Facebook), and @instantdotme (Musical.ly).
She added, “It wasn’t until I started YouTube and I was putting out music – I think I was 19 or 20 at this point – and I started to get a lot of messages from girls who said, ‘I look like you, I want to do music, I want to do what you do, but I see the comment that you get and I could never do it.’ ”
Tonjes admits, “That absolutely broke [her] heart.”
“I thought, ‘How unfortunate that you’re not going to do something because we’re scared of what people might say,’ ” she shared. “That for me was the turning point, where I realized it’s not enough for me to just sit on this site and do music. Although, that is activism in itself to get up in front of a camera to look the way you do as political as our bodies have become, but also I wanted to empower those people.”