Kelley Markland couldn’t believe what she was reading. What she thought might be a letter from a friend turned out to be an anonymous note mocking her for wearing leggings. But that’s where the letter writer failed. Because instead of feeling ashamed or embarrassed, Markland is thanking the stranger who sent it.
According to Babble, the 36-year-old mom of two knows what it’s like to grow up hearing comments about her weight. A plus-sized woman, Markland says that she spent years hiding in her clothes. In fact, it was only recently that she had begun to feel comfortable enough to wear bright colored leggings. She tells Babble:
“As a plus-sized woman, your options are limited. The more I wore [leggings], the more I wanted to keep wearing them because I felt pretty and good in them. My wardrobe turned from black because I tried to hide and not stand out, to blues and pinks.”
Then, one mean-spirited letter tried to undo all of her newly-won confidence. In mid-November, the substitute teacher came home from a family birthday celebration to find a letter waiting in her mailbox.
Inside was an unflattering picture of a woman in leggings (not Markland), an image reading, “Your pants say yoga, but your butt says McDonald’s,” and a hand-printed note:
“Women who weigh 300 pounds should not wear yoga pants!!”
Markland tells Babble that she was “numb,” and “froze” when she read the letter. Her husband began to throw it away, but she stopped him.
After deciding to show the writer what she thought by taking it public, Markland shared the anonymous letter on Facebook, writing:
“Apparently, I weigh 300 pounds and I shouldn’t wear leggings anymore. … Wearing my “fun” leggings gave me a tad bit of confidence in not looking sloppy all the time. I’m sorry that some of you may not like it, but I’m not dressing for you.”
Markland didn’t try to hide how much the note stung, marveling that she could still be the target of such comments as a grown woman. After asking that the mysterious sender come forward, Markland wrote:
“All the hate in this world, and you have to pick on me for this?! … A wonderful night with my family had to end like this…..so unbelievably disappointed in people.”
The response was beyond anything Markland expected. Though she tells Independent Journal Review that she only intended to vent to her friends, Markland inadvertently started a movement. Her post was shared widely, and commenters were vocal in their support of wearing what you want and loving yourself.
Many posted photos of their own leggings, and Beyond Yoga and a LulaRoe consultant gave Markland some new leggings to show off. A photographer even donated a photo shoot so she could pose with her leggings in style.
The next day, Markland made it clear that she isn’t about to give up her colorful pants. In a Facebook video, she showed off a pair of unicorn leggings and let it be known that she wasn’t going to let the nasty note get her down.
In the video, Markland says she’s thankful to the person who sent the letter because she has been able to turn it into an important lesson for her children, who wanted to know why she was crying:
“It’s one thing to talk about bullying, but when you see the after-effects of it actually happening, that’s a real-life image and a real-life picture for them to see.”
What’s more, there’s another reason to say, “thank you.” The letter-writer’s goal was to bring her down, but in the end, the note had the opposite effect. She tells Independent Journal Review:
“I really do think that the writer’s purpose was to make me feel bad and perhaps stop wearing leggings. Instead, I have become stronger, a little more confident, and a lot more determined!”
Finally, Markland says that the experience has given her some perspective on how much she has changed and grown as a person. As she says in her Facebook video:
“I’ve gone through a lot. At the end of the day, if this person can only make fun of me for my leggings, I’m doing pretty good in life.”