A New York college student who started a blog on self-acceptance in order to help other young women deal with body image taunts has become a viral hero to many for her frank and powerful online discussion about her weight.
"My body must be a revolution," she wrote along with the photo, which she captioned, "Picture might be considered obscene because subject is not thin. And we all know that only skinny people can show their stomachs and celebrate themselves. I am not going to stand for that. This is my body, not yours. MINE."
"I think people are cruel because they are uncomfortable seeing an image of people who are not thin," Boonshoft said in an interview on Tuesday's Today show. "I found that after years of struggling with my body image that really there was no way to justify the bullying as a child and as a teen."
And her cause became a cyberspace hit with more than 2.4 million views on Facebook. In addition, more than 80,000 people shared her photo from her Tumblr page.
But she got even more exposure thanks to Brandon Stanton, who appeared with Boonshoft on Today. He created the Humans of New York project, a collection of street portraits in the city, and he initially took his own photo of Boonshoft fully clothed but later made a decision to use Boonshoft's own bikini shot, which she says mortified her – at first.
After a while, she decided it was the right choice as she continued to work on her project on sizeism.
"It took a lot of years of soul searching to decide this isn't right," she said on Today. "I finally came to a place where I was really happy with the way that I looked. I wanted to leave a message to the bullies who tormented me."