Fitness blogger and personal trainer Cassey Ho's poignant, heartfelt video created in response to 'body shaming' has gone viral and inspired thousands of young girls to love themselves just the way they are.
The 28-year-old creator of the YouTube workout channel Blogilates is known worldwide for her short, fun workout videos and positive perspective on fitness.
However, Ho revealed that while she receives many encouraging comments from fans, she is often berated with vicious comments about her weight and appearance. Despite understanding that the mean comments come from a negative place, Ho explained that they affect her far more than the positive words from fans.
"It's hard to talk about...It's something that's been eating away at me for a while now," she said in a video about body shaming last week. "The hatred and the mean comments that have been swirling around lately, I can't shake it off."
The fitness star added that some of the words were so cruel they had made her cry and feel like "a piece of meat."
Instead of wallowing in her discouragement, however, Ho decided to fight back by making a video about how it felt for her to see what she would look like with the "perfect" body.
"In this video, you will experience what it feels like to be constantly bombarded with outrageous negativity," Ho wrote in a blog post introducing the video. "You will see what it looks like to have your self-esteem stripped away. You will read real comments left by real people. You will see me struggle with my own appearance."
In the video, titled "The Perfect Body," Ho "makes changes" to herself, including slimming her waist and legs, increasing her bust and bottom, and changing the color of her eyes.
After Ho has virtually edited herself, she looks in the mirror, but remains upset with how she looks, insinuating that changing yourself for other people will not make you happy.
"So what if I changed?" Ho wrote. "What if I had a slimmer waist and a bigger butt? Would everyone be happy then? What if I lived in a world where I could photoshop my body in real life? Would I be happy then?"
Within just a few days, the video was viewed by over 1.2 million people, with many fans and commenters praising Ho for sharing her body image struggle and revealing how the video had inspired them.
"Cassey, thank you for making this video. I was bullied throughout elementary and middle school because of my weight. I'm in highschool now, and your encouragement and promotion of body positivity has helped me love myself the way I am. Thank you!" wrote one fan.
"This is quite possibly the most beautiful thing I've seen online recently....I hope this video gets a lot of attention and more people start feeling ashamed OF SHAMING other people for ANY reason. We're all here for a short time and spending time trying to hurt someone else for the way they are... is a waste of time. Cassey Ho, you are beautiful inside and out," added another.
"This is actually pretty amazing," wrote another commenter. "There are lots of things I would change. But it took me years to know the changes I want to make are based on health, self respect, and self love. I don't want perfection. Nor do I want the societal standard of beauty. I just want to be healthy. I already love myself."
However, not all reactions have been positive. After posting an edited snapshot of her "perfect" body on her Instagram, Ho said she was shocked to discover that many of the comments were either still extremely negative or else praising her "amazing" physique.
"I wanted to post again because there was a weird phenomenon that happened when I posted this Photoshopped picture," the fitness star wrote on her Instagram. "On the very same photo, I got some people praising me and others degrading me. What worries me is this: 1. That some people think this is real and that it should be 'goals.' 2. That some people still think it's not good enough."
She continued, "It's tough knowing what's real and what's not when magazine covers and music videos are Photoshopped (yes, music videos), Instagram pics are Photoshopped, and so many women are getting surgery. How are we to know what kind of beauty can be naturally achieved when everything around us is so deceiving?"