A 13-year-old girl’s pictures have gone viral after she faced her ‘biggest fear’ of wearing a swimsuit in public.
Year nine pupil Paris Harvey, from Gillingham, Kent, shared a series of photographs of herself enjoying a sunny day at the beach in a one-piece costume to her Twitter account, and the post soon took off, receiving a staggering 46,000 retweets so far.
The majority of responses to Paris’ pictures have been overwhelmingly positive, with many hailing her as ‘an inspiration’.
‘You’re beautiful!! You’ve inspired me so much that I’m going to start going out in my shorts which I’ve never done before 💕💕,’ one of her followers wrote, whilst another added: ‘I know why it was one of your fears…you’re literally the cutest person on the beach and you were scared that everybody would get jealous’.
‘girl you look beautiful, do whatever you want and be proud of who u are’ a third agreed.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Paris revealed that she sufferers from a metabolic condition, which means she gains weight quickly and struggles to lose it, and as a result of being born with hip dysplasia, she has one leg shorter than the other which causes her to walk with a limp – both factors that had made her the target of bullies in the past.
‘I became really insecure about how I looked,’ she admitted. ‘I can be eating the same food as the next person but I gain weight. It’s not like I’m sitting at home all day eating crisps.
‘It’s also hard for me to get around because of my hips and it is harder for me to make changes than it is for other people. But I felt like I shouldn’t have to explain myself.’
She explained that she’d initially felt nervous about being so exposed, and worried that she might get stares or comments, but said that to her surprise, ‘people were just acting as they did before.’
‘I stayed like it for a few hours and I started to feel comfortable in my own skin. I was proud afterwards. It was quite an achievement.’
Paris has also chosen to ignore the handful of negative comments that she’s received, some of which suggest that she’s ‘promoting obesity’.
‘I thought, “Why am I wasting my time on those?”” she concluded.
‘I chose to focus on the support because hate is nothing compared to love. I feel like we should embrace who we are. You shouldn’t have to change yourself to make others feel comfortable around you. Focus on yourself.
‘I’m not making myself a model but I wanted to show people that it doesn’t matter what size you are – you are born into that body.’