Connie Hackett has no time for trolls.
In 2015, when blogger and YouTuber Connie Hackett from Abbottsford, B.C. first joined the leagues of Instagrammers, there were already troves of Instagrammers screaming into the void with highly-stylized photographs of luxurious lifestyles, extreme adventure activities, and risqué boudoir shots that lean heavy on sexy. “I don’t play that way. I think there’s a way to come across as confident without showing every inch of skin,” Hackett says, so she began her own plus size model account with some selfies and urban exploring photos which focussed on her curvy shape, body positivity, her natural eye for photography, and her infectious smile. To her surprise, she found that her audience—that was used to barely-there attire and come-hither looks—responded positively. “I remember having to take a deep breath before I hit ‘share.’ How sad is that? […]I did it and the world didn’t completely end,” she explains. “I felt a HUGE sigh of relief and immediately felt like an idiot for being scared in the first place. I was the only person who was critiquing myself, and when I chose not to do that, it became a whole new, more positive, world […] I felt this overwhelming sense of confidence and pride about the body I had and that I should be happy in the skin I’m in.”
Now, the 27-year old—who has already been featured in a Vancouver Sun spread—is hoping to be one of the next generation of Instagram models to turn their body-positive photos into a real career. “I wasn’t entirely comfortable in my own skin before social media came around,” Hackett says, and those early swimsuit pics helped her realize how uplifting body positivity could be for her and her audience. “It’s not always going to be possible to be considered perfect, and why on Earth should we make ourselves miserable with who we are when it’s completely unnecessary?”
Her Instagram offers a snippet of all the joys in her life—a warm mug of apple cider, trying on her favorite new bikini, and her most recent travels across England. On any given day, you’ll see her standing on the cliffs of Dover, visiting ancient castles, or appreciating a wealth of visual art all while sporting red lipstick and perfectly sculpted brows. It all feels very light and airy, but, as she tells me, Instagram is not immune to trolls, and having the audacity to be happy when you’re a bigger shape can often lead to obscene comments. “You’re still going to get the odd troll who has nothing better to do with their time and who will go on a comment rampage through your account.”
One such troll was knocked on their ass quite swiftly. After posting one such swimsuit pic—wearing a cute bikini with yellow highlights as she stands on a rock face—she received body-shaming hate from a troll via a now-deactivated account, calling her unhealthy and telling her to lose weight. Hackett took to Instagram with a sermon of love and tolerance—and a healthy dose of take-a-damn-seat for good measure: “Your world is filled with hatred and self-loathing,” she wrote directly to the troll, “so you feel the need to distract yourself by trying to put down others who are only wanting to spread positivity. You need someone to love you and if that has to be me, so be it. I'm making the choice to love you because you haven't made that choice for yourself […]. I love you and don't you ever forget it. ” Because body positivity is at the core of her message and her ethos, the troll’s comments were removed. She says she posted her response to the troll directly to her feed as a warning to other body-shamers who think they can mess with her. That incident and others like it could have made her lose a step in her stride, but she refuses to let it. Haters be damned. She continues to post photographs of her curvy body—and of her eating ice cream and doughnuts with aplomb—and she continues to be simultaneously happy and fat, no matter how much that infuriates body-shamers. Don’t let that cute face fool you. She could still fuck a bitch up (metaphorically speaking of course, but hey, I wouldn’t test her).
For someone with self-worth, self-confidence and self-esteem to spare, there are lots of opportunities in the plus-size industry, and as Hackett points out, they aren’t “being dictated by the traditional fashion industry…advertising is changing.” She also believes that personal Instagram reviews can influence consumer purchases in a big way. “I’m more likely to purchase an article of clothing that has been modelled by a woman who looks like me,” she says. Case in point, Hackett notes how often she is seeing women her size gracing the campaigns of haute couture. “I was just leafing through the latest issue of Vogue and I came across an ad that included a plus-size model in with the traditional models, and I had to do a double take,” she tells me. “Was I really seeing this in Vogue?! It’s a pretty powerful thing to see.”
Vogue, meet Connie Hackett. Your move.
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