Unfortunately, many of the body positivity stories in the media revolve around influencers and models clapping back at fat shamers. 

While it's empowering to see women and men standing up to trolls, it's sad to see members of the body positivity community become targets for hate. Literally, people are attacked (and censored) simply for posting photos of themselves in swimsuits and shorts. A selfie can expose you to a barrage of disgusting hate and accusations of "glorifying obesity."  

Here, six influencers explain what it's like to deal with harassment and cyber-bullying daily.

"Strangers hate me because I don't hate myself." — Jessica Torres

My life's mission is to be the plus-size role model I needed when I was younger — and online abuse goes hand-in-hand with my career.

A few months ago, I was notified of a Facebook group created for the sole purpose of ridiculing and harassing me.

As much as I tried to ignore it, the negativity became excessive and started to affect me. At times I felt like I had to hide from social media, to dodge hurtful memes, to ignore my friends and family tagging me in the comments, "Have you seen this?"

Tired of blocking people, I'd shut down my Facebook media for weeks. I reported the abuse to Facebook multiple times but was told that the harassment wasn't violent and threatening enough to constitute action. Apparently, breaking someone down slow and steady is no big deal to Facebook, they only step in at the point of emergency... or afterward.

I eventually took it upon myself to either ignore, block, or contact my harassers' moms and employers. I energized myself by focusing on all the positive messages and vibes, which far outweighed the bad. 

At the end of the day, if I help one person, it's all worth it. 

"When I'm in the street, people stare at me, laugh at me, talk about me while I'm standing one foot away." — Gabriella Lascasno

Online, I don't feel it as much, but when I'm on the subway or train, I feel like everyone is looking at me and I constantly have to put my guard up. I think that's why online harassment doesn't hurt me, because I have people literally laugh at me in the street and that's more upsetting than a troll on Instagram. 

I get so many messages from women, teenagers (male and female), and people younger and older than me who have been completely changed by the inspiration they have gotten from me. To me, that's way more significant than any "mean" comment.

I use YouTube and Instagram's "comment filter/comment blocker" — this ensures that negative comments are immediately deleted and I never see them or I'm able to delete them without others seeing them. This tool really helps me keep those negative thoughts out of my head! Just knowing I am doing what God's purpose is for my life keeps me positive and helps me feel confident.

"I've received messages telling me to kill myself ... and I've received overtly sexual messaged that made me feel dehumanized and unsafe." —  Alysse Dalessandro

I've been getting harassment online for as long as I've been posting pictures of myself online. I categorize this hate in two ways: either I'm the manifestation of someone's hate of fat bodies, or I represent desire of fat bodies. In both cases, I'm treated as an object. 
These trolls act as if my body exists only for them to either hate or sexualize. The entitlement that people feel to my fat body is terrifying to me.

I've had my images stolen and used for countless fat-phobic and anti-feminist memes. My image was stolen and used on Breitbart by Milo Yiannopoulos. These are the experiences that stand out to me, but honestly, harassment is a part of my daily life. I block anyone that makes me feel unsafe, which is still not enough in some cases and I know that.

I think the only thing that will create change is society treating fat people like human beings. Our society sends the message that being fat is bad in so many ways. Social media platforms don't consider the harassment of fat people to be bullying. That shows you how far we have to go.

"Being bullied as a teen prepared me for the harassment I get online." — Sabrina Servance

For many people, seeing a plus-size person live a happy life is just confusing. I think the idea of a fat woman being happy really bothers the trolls. As much as they say they are so "concerned" about our health, the idea of someone not actively (according to our internet presence) pursuing weight loss blows their mind. How can I enjoy life AND be fat!?

Regardless of what I wear and what I say, someone will ALWAYS have an opinion. So there is no point in worrying about what anyone thinks. I strive to be the person I needed when I was younger. And that person is strong. That person knows that I deserve a space where I can wear and say what I want despite the negativity thrown my way. I've worked very hard to be the woman I am today. Those nasty words mean nothing to me.

"It’s perfectly normal for hurtful things people say or do to be painful, but you are allowed to bounce back from it and rise above. You’re worth it." — Natalie Hage

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I think fat-phobia is so rampant because society has allowed it to be.

Right and left we’re inundated with images, articles, and billboards advertising products and services designed to make you feel unworthy if you fall outside of the ideal. The self-love industry isn’t a multi-billion dollar industry — the diet and beauty industry is. If everyone decided that they loved themselves apart from all of these gimmicks, business would fail. It’s profitable for them to keep you doubting yourself. Your self-hatred is a paycheck to them.

I am being 100% honest when I say that, especially since I went viral for [being fat shamed on an American Airlines flight], things have gotten to me more than ever. I’ve really had to do some work on myself and remember what I tell other people — that people who hurt you are not happy with themselves and their hateful opinion of you/your body says more about them than it does about you.

"I don't know exactly why people online bully, but I think a lot of it comes from wanting to hurt other people because maybe they've been hurt." — Callie Thorpe

Online bullying gives people the opportunity to say things that perhaps they wouldn't say to a person's face in real life. I think being behind a screen helps add a level of protection, and a lot of people get determined opinions and they go the next level and try to abuse you online for living a life that they don't perhaps agree with. 

By practice I avoid reading the comment section; I try and delete comments as they come in straight away. I also try and humanize what they say. I don't really want to keep referring to people as trolls because the reality is that behind that person is a human being and they probably have a life and job, maybe they even have children, and they are obviously setting up these accounts to target specifically women and say some really cruel things. I just try to cling on to the idea that they've been hurt in the past and this is why they are saying such hurtful things. 

The best way to protect myself is to avoid seeing it, which is very difficult when people target you. The only way to keep sane is it not look at it, but it does play around in your mind and reading things about yourself can be really hurtful. Self-preservation is key.