Stella Boonshoft, an 18-year-old student and New York University, has become an Internet sensation. She wasn't trying to get attention when she approached photographer Brandon Stanton, asking to take his photo. And she thought nothing of it when he asked to take hers. But as the situation would have it, her chance meeting has turned into an extraordinary movement that has resonated with people across the world.
"But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."
1 Samuel 16:7
Boonshoft originally began telling her story on her blog titled, "The Body Love Blog." According to her, it was an attempt to come to terms with body issues that she had struggled with for years.
"I had found on Tumblr that there is a huge body positive, body acceptance movement. I wanted to give a message to the bullies that had tormented me and show them that it didn't work," Boonshift explained during an interview on the Today Show.
In one blog post, Boonshoft decided that she would upload a photo of herself in her undergarments, attached with the following caption:
"WARNING: 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. Well I'm not going to stand for that," the blog read.
Although the blog was public, Boonshoft did not expect for many people to see it. All of that changed however, after photographer Brandon Stanton uploaded the picture to his own blog, called Humans of New York. It was seen by over 2.4 million people.
As a result, Stanton and Boonshoft have decided to work together to re-establish Boonshoft's blog into something that will inspire others to feel better about their body.
"I found that after years of struggling with my body image that really there was no way to justify the bullying and the torment I endured as a child and as a teen," Boonshoft said during the interview. "It took a lot of years of self searching to understand that this isn't right."
"We don't have the authority to judge other people's beauty. We don't have the authority to make assumptions about other people's health based on the way that people look," she continued.
"I finally came to a place where I was really happy with the way I looked," Boonshoft said.