We have been ingrained to believe that skinny = beautiful. That harmful assumption leads many to strive for thinness at any cost, sometimes at the expense of mental health or even physical health.
One model and body-positive activist, Khrystyana, is fighting back against the notion that happiness is correlative with thinness by sharing her own emotional journey. She posted a before-and-after photo to Instagram this week (September 13), and unlike most ~inspirational~ weight loss posts, she looks much happier and healthier in the heavier photo.
“In 2013 I thought I wasn’t small enough to be a fashion model and technically i have never been small enough,” she writes. “Even back then with all the dietary suffering and daily long hours at the gym I was at 37.5 hip size, a bit too thick. Was I happy? Absolutely not. I did not care about my happiness nor mental health, it was all about getting the next gig.”
Khrystyana’s struggle to fit into the modeling world took its toll on her.
“I found myself depressed going through identity crisis,” she continued. “I gained more weight, hated myself more and more until I had no more energy left within me to hate anything.”
Fortunately, she was able to use that exhaustion to reexamine the lens with which she was judging herself so harshly. “Why? Why should we ever wreck ourselves? For career? parental approvals? romances? or fame? Why did I? Why would you ever? TRUST the NOWEST you, trust that this is deserving of all your love.”
It’s powerful that she has found a way to regain her identity and to challenge the modeling industry’s restrictive ideals of beauty. Accounts like these are uplifting, but for the most part, uncommon: we live in a society that still idealizes hyper-thin bodies. Actress Lily Collins had a family friend praise her recently for losing weight to play an anorexic character for a movie. A viral tweet on thin privilege demonstrates that thin women who eat cheeseburgers are “sexy,” whereas plus-size women who dare to post any picture of themselves at all are “unhealthy.” We have a long way to go.
Still, to understand the influence of Khrystyana’s words, one needs to go no further than the comment section.
“I’ve really been having a hard time with my dysmorphia today,” one user wrote. “Thank you for this.”