FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (WEAR) — It was an anonymous attack designed to twist the knife in a woman's self-esteem. She decided to fight back against a body shaming bully.
As the owner of Integrity Weight Loss Center in Fort Walton Beach, Dr. Sarah Leatherman's mission is to help people feel good in their bodies. She felt anything but good when she got an anonymous text message asking why she wasn't on her own diet.
Leatherman, who minored in women's studies in college, said remarks like that are more destructive than they look on the surface.
She continued, "And that's the first thing we do, when we see a successful woman, the first thing we want to do to try to take her down, is to criticize her looks and her weight."
Three days later, another text came, talking about her "bloat."
Leatherman said, "And that one stung, that one felt a little personal."
A third text said she should be ashamed and that the weight loss plan was certainly not working for her.
"It felt shameful," she said.
Leatherman called law enforcement, but the texts had not escalated to a level they could act on. She decided not to let it go.
"I'm not going to let this affect me one more day. I'm not going to let this affect my family life one more day, so, I'm going to share this story, I'm going to take it and I'm going to turn it around and how can I share my story to help others," she said.
Leatherman posted the texts on Facebook, along with a photo of herself. Her message: Don't let a cyber bully make you think like a victim.
She continued, "So I think about these young girls in particular, their bodies are growing and developing, they're in high school, and they're having these bullies that are doing this to them, and that's really hurtful, and those things can get really locked in, and that's what I see a lot in my clinic here."
Dozens of supportive comments and shares felt good, but the big win was taking back her power.
Leatherman said, "I always say if you can shine a light on those bullies and on that dark corner of shame, that's also where cockroaches live, you shine a light of vulnerability on it and all of a sudden, they scramble."