Alicia McCarvell responded with grace and empathy to commenters who remarked on her and her husband's bodies and put forward absurd theories about their relationship.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on July 7, 2022. It has since been updated.
Alicia McCarvell, a self-love advocate with more than 5.4 million followers on TikTok, recently ignited an important discussion about the damage beauty standards cause all of us. It all began when she shared an endearing transition video with her husband, Scott. The pair have been together for 16 years. In the video—which went viral with more than 40 million views—the high school sweethearts show off their wedding attire by changing from towels to evening glam looks, in what is a fairly popular video trend on social media. However, unlike all the other videos, McCarvell's 12-second clip was met with a disturbing number of commenters remarking on her and her husband's bodies and putting forward absurd theories about their relationship.
After nearly 70,000 people weighed in on the clip—with some expressing support for the couple and praising their gorgeous looks for the evening and others expressing far too much concern about someone else's relationship and bodies—McCarvell responded to the obnoxious comments with grace and empathy in another video. "I posted a simple transition video of me and my husband going from towels to dressed up together," she says in the video that's been viewed more than 22 million times. "This is not unlike what all kinds of different couples do on this app. My video went viral, and I think we all know why. It's because, by beauty standards, we don't make sense."
"The world looks at us and immediately values Scott more than me, and since we don't 'add up,' people try to add things to my side of the equation to 'make it make sense' by saying things like, 'Oh, she must not have been fat when they met' or 'She's got to be rich,'" McCarvell continued. "Or they try to decrease his side of the equation by saying things like, 'He must be gay' or 'He fetishes fat women.' We've been made to believe that somebody who is physically fit like Scott could never in a million years be in love with or compatible with a fat woman. And that's solely because the world has literally taught us that we have to value our worth [based] on our bodies."
The 32-year-old went on to reveal that after she posted the first video, an unnamed woman reached out to Scott to tell him that he should be with someone who is thin like her. "Here's the thing, though," McCarvell says in the clip. "Me telling myself for the majority of our relationship that I'm not worthy of his love because of my body is the exact same thing as this thin woman telling him that she is worthy of him because of her body. I'm under-valuing myself, and she is overvaluing herself. We have both been made to believe that our value lies in our body."
"When people slide into his DMs, they're leading with their body first. And on the scale of what my husband values, how well my body fits into the beauty standard is not at the top of his list. He values my humor and my commitment and my love and my caring heart—and none of these things he values about me changes when my body changes," she continued. "So when someone slides into his DMs leading with their body first, he's asking, 'But what else?' Because he, like I, know that people's values don't lie in how well their bodies fit into society's trash beauty standards. And I get it. If this is the way you think, it's the way you've been taught. However, it is your responsibility to unlearn it."
Speaking to BuzzFeed about the whole episode, McCarvell explained that she considers incidents like these opportunities to teach about self-love. "My platform is about self-love, and I have worked hard to get myself to where I am," she said. "I have worked hard to unlearn all of the fatphobic things that were in my comment section. I believe that we've all been taught the same things about being fat and about these beauty standards; however, I was motivated to unlearn them because I am fat, and because I do not fit the mold of these ridiculous standards."
"When someone leaves a comment like the ones on my video, it is because they've been made to believe the same things I was, that our value lies in our bodies, and not WHO we are, and I think it's important to talk about it because these beauty standards impact EVERYONE, including those living inside of them," McCarvell continued. "On the other side, people who do fall into these beauty standards, [may] never learn their true value [by] allowing people to exploit their bodies [and] making them feel like they have only accomplished what they have because of [their bodies]."
"Our bodies are the LEAST consistent things about us," she said. "They are not the same today as they will be next week, or as they were when we were 15, or as they will be when we are 60. How you value someone should always have to do with the things about them that are consistent. Their kindness, their values, their love, their work ethic, their humor, what type of friend they are; these are the things that add value to this world, not where they fall on society's standards of beauty."