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/ Source: TODAY
By Lindsay Lowe

Gillette is defending a recent Twitter post featuring a plus-sized model after it ignited controversy online.

The shaving brand recently posted a bikini photo of Anna O'Brien, a model and style blogger with more than 320,000 Instagram followers.

Before long, the post had sparked a heated discussion in the comments, with some online trolls making cruel comments about her weight and appearance.

Some people also criticized Gillette for promoting an “unhealthy” body type.

Soon, Gillette weighed in and defended its decision to post the photo.

“Venus is committed to representing beautiful women of all shapes, sizes, and skin types because ALL types of beautiful skin deserve to be shown,” the razor brand said in a tweet. “We love Anna because she lives out loud and loves her skin no matter how the ‘rules’ say she should display it.”

In a statement to TODAY Style, the brand clarified that this photo was not part of an ad campaign for Gillette; they simply shared O'Brien's photo as part of their mission to celebrate women of all shapes and sizes.

"Anna O'Brien is a body positive advocate and influencer and has an inspiring platform of self-love," said My Anh Nghiem, a spokesperson for Gillette's parent company, Procter & Gamble. "She is not a paid partner of Venus nor was the image created at the brand’s request. We simply asked to share this photo of her as part of our efforts to represent more women and their stories on our platform."

O'Brien often posts body-positive photos and empowering essays about loving herself just as she is on social media. She hasn’t commented directly on the photo used by Gillette, but she alluded to the controversy in a recent Instagram post.

“So much has happened in the last 5 days,” she wrote. “The only thing I have to say is, I’m ok.”

While her recent photo sparked some negative comments, there were plenty of supportive messages, too.

One Twitter user defended O’Brien and said that all the concern about the model’s health was really just body shaming in disguise, writing, "Health has NOTHING to do with it. Don't pretend that you actually "care about health" when you're stigmatising."

Fans also flooded O’Brien’s Instagram page with positive messages.

“Love the suit, love the pic, love you!” one person wrote.

"You inspire so many to be happy with themselves," another fan commented. "Don’t let the insecurities of those who say awful things control you or enter your psyche."

Reached by TODAY Style, O’Brien said she did not want to comment on the controversy surrounding Gillette's tweet.

But she recently posted another photo on Instagram and shared the body-positive philosophy that inspired her to pose for the bikini pic in the first place.

“Don’t wait for anyone else’s permission to live and experience all you can in your body,” O'Brien wrote. “We don’t remember the number on our jeans of the shape of our hips and stomach on a beach … We remember how we laughed and forgot for an instant everything we should be. We just were. Joy comes from the experience, not from the size of the body we live in.”