Meet Michelle Thomas.
She was sent a horrible message by a man she went on a Tinder date with last week - but instead of letting the experience destroy her self esteem, she turned it into an opportunity to call out sexist body-shaming and encourage women to celebrate their looks.
The writer and café manager went on an unremarkable date with a guy she met on Tinder. She wasn't bothered about seeing him again, and neither was her date - but instead of cutting it off like an adult, her date decided to let Michelle know in a rambling message the next day that it was because she was too fat to fancy.
The date's message:
Hey Michelle, sorry been super busy at work today hun.
Thanks for a wonderful evening last night. I really enjoyed your company and actually adore you. You're cheeky and funny and just the sort of girl I would love to go out with if only my body and mind would let me. But I fear it won't.
I'm not going to bulls--t you... I f--king adore you Michelle and I think you're the prettiest looking girl I've ever met. But my mind gets turned on my someone slimmer.
Shallow? It's not meant to be. It's the same reaction you get when you read a great author or see an amazing image, or listen to a piece of music you love, it has that instant reaction in you that makes you crave more.
So whilst I am hugely turned on by your mind, your face, your personality (and God...I really, really am), I can't say the same about your figure. So I can sit there and flirt and have the most incredibly fun evening, but I have this awful feeling that when we got undressed my body would let me down. I don't want that to happen baby. I don't want to be lying there next to you, and you asking me why I'm not hard.
There are certain triggers that fire my imagination into life and your wit and intelligence are the beginning of that process which would inevitably end up in the bedroom. With just one result....
I'm so disappointed in myself Michelle because I've genuinely not felt this way about anyone in ages, but I'm trying to be honest with you without sounding like a total knobhead.
We could be amazing friends, we could flirt and joke and adore each other and... f--k me... I would marry you like a shot if you were a slip of a girl because what you have in that mind of yours is utterly unique, and I really really love it.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm trying to avoid bigger pain in the future by telling you now so we don't have to go through that embarrassment. I'm a man... With all the red hot lusts of a man and all the failings of a man and I'm sure of my own body and its needs. Please try and forgive me. I adore you xx
What a keeper.
Michelle said the message made her burst into tears. Her date had been "so flirty and charming and affectionate on the date", she told i100.co.uk. "The message was the polar opposite of that. It really floored me."
A few days later she penned the best possible response in an open letter on her blog, which has been viewed more than 20,000 times since Friday.
Dear Man I Met On Tinder.
I was on another date when I received your message. He returned from the loo to find me in a flood of tears. He was lovely, but baffled, and hasn't been in touch since, funnily enough.
You don't have to fancy me. We all have a good friend who we look at ruefully and think “you're lovely, but you just don't tickle my pickle”. We wish we were attracted to them, but our bodies and our brains don't work like that. And that's fine.
What isn't fine is the fact that, after a few hours in my company, you took the time to write this utterly uncalled-for message. It's nothing short of sadistic. Your tone is saccharine and condescending, but the forensic detail in which you express your disgust at my body is truly grotesque. The only possible objective for writing it is to wound me.
And I'm ashamed to say, for a few moments, it worked. You stirred a dormant fear that every woman who was ever a teenage girl has – that it doesn't matter how funny you are, how clever, how kind, how passionate, how loyal, how determined or adventurous or vibrant – if you're a stone overweight, no one will ever find you desirable.
I like the way I look. I don't look like Charlize Theron, and that's fine - I look like me, and I like myself (I'm sure I'd like Charlize Theron, too if I ever met her. I hear good things).
You may think are all my profile pictures are "FGASs" (That's Fat Girl Angle Shots – pictures from angles that slim and flatter the girl. Because men only ever use candid, brutally-lit, unfiltered pics). But I think they're a fair representation. And I'm pretty upfront about who I am: I describe myself as a woman who loves pizza, and include links to myInstagram page, where I have the #everybodysready bikini shots I took on my 30th birthday. I like to think I come across as a confident, happy woman. But could this be the very reason you have targeted me? Did you see me and think “She has far too high an opinion of herself, she needs bringing down a peg or two”? I have to ask - we all know the internet is a dangerous place to be a woman with opinions (I discovered this first hand when I ventured a response to those obnoxious bloody adverts).
I showed your message to friends who expressed shock, horror, embarrassment on your behalf, and a desire to cause you actual physical harm. One male friend told me I have a lovely bottom “if unmarriageable”. I laughed with them. Then I cried in my Slimming World group. That's right! Slimming World! You see, I already KNOW that I'm overweight. I can tell you exactly how overweight I am – 20 pounds. I've already lost 15, and I've a stone and a half to go. I'm happy with that. I will get rid of it, safely and healthily. Does that mean that I can't love and enjoy my body now? F** no.*
I'll never see or hear from you again (you may feel the need to respond to this blog. Please don't. There's nothing you can say that will make me think that you're not a disgrace to your gender).
What truly concerns me, the real reason I'm responding so publicly, is the fact that you [have a daughter].
I want you to encourage your daughter to love, enjoy, and care for her body. It belongs to her and only her. Praise her intellect, and her creativity. Push her to push herself and to be fearless. Give her the tools to develop a bomb-proof sense of self-esteem so that if (I'll be kind. I'll say “if”.) the time comes that a small, unhappy man attempts to corrode it, she can respond as I do now.
P.S. “Slip of a girl”? CHRIST ALIVE, that's creepy.
P.P.S. You're not 5'11
Now that's a signoff for the ages.
Michelle told i100.co.uk that she made the post public because she felt a sense of duty towards his daughter. "If he can send that message to a woman whom he barely knows so thoughtlessly he obviously hasn't made the connection that somebody could treat his daughter that way," she said.
People from all over the world have sent her messages of support thanking her for writing the letter. "It's not really about shaming this one man anymore," she said. "It's about using this negativity and turning it into a positive message.
We need a frank and honest conversation about body shaming. Society needs to talk about it, and I think humour helps.