The pressure to be a certain size or to look a certain way is hard enough in today's world, without considering what it must be like for models in the fashion industry. But one former model, Liza Golden-Bhojwani, has shared an inspiring before and after photo to illustrate just how much her body changed after she stopped "fighting" it to fit the industry's ideals, and how much happier she is now because of it.
Writing on Instagram, Liza shared the image showing her on the left-hand side "at the start of the peak of [her] career" versus her "right now, [her] body as it is."
Having been in the fashion industry since she was 17, Liza explained that her career as a model initially gave her "a serious adrenaline rush," but that all began to change "after fainting one night in [her] apartment while preparing one of [her] very low cal meals."
Following that, Liza decided to "call it quits with the diet and workout regimen I was put on and... do it on [her] own."
But after abandoning the restrictive plan designed to keep her the size she needed to be to walk in fashion week shows all over the world, Liza began "craving every single food you could imagine," which eventually led to "a full-blown binge."
Although she managed to keep her weight gain subtle for the following few weeks, by the time Milan Fashion Week came around and she had gained an extra inch around her hips, the negative comments started, with people saying her thighs looked fat.
"Paris Fashion Week came about, and I found it impossible to resist those chocolate croissants," continued Liza in her Instagram post. She described feeling less and less engaged with the industry and the unattainable standards it forced upon her. "I had seriously just given up on my short lived high fashion career, because I just simply could not hack it," she said.
But the prospect of a glittering modeling career soon got to Liza again, and in 2014, two years after she'd given up the 500-calorie-a-day diet that was slowly starving her, she began watching what she ate again.
"In 2014 I got a kick, a rev of my engine, I wanted to get in shape again, I was over giving up. I wanted in again, but in a much healthier way," she recalled. "And I did just that, I worked my a** off day in and day out in the gym. I was strict about my diet, but I wasn’t fully starving myself like I had two years ago, I was eating more but I still kept a diary of exactly what I ate everyday and I would tally up the calories at the end of the day."
"In 2012 I was having about 500 calories a day, and in 2014, I was having about 800-1200, depending on my mood and hunger patterns. I was the fittest I ever was in my entire career at this point, I had sixpack abs, but still I wasn’t fit enough for the likes of Victoria’s Secret or other brands."
Liza took a trip to India around that time, where she met the man she would marry, and she eventually decided to leave New York and the modeling career she had battled so fiercely with.
"I relocated my dogs and myself to India. 2016 was the first time in three years where I finally picked myself up and said, 'You know what, f*** this sh** I am going to get back to work no matter what.'"
And that's when Liza really decided to address the way she felt about her body.
"I was struggling to lose weight again, and one day I just thought, 'Why am I fighting against my body? Why don't I just go in the same direction? Stop forcing my own agenda and just listen to my body. And that's what I did, slowly, I was coming into my true body form. My natural self, not my forced self," she said.
And what's come with that is a seriously empowering attitude; one we could perhaps all learn from.
"The picture to the right [as seen above] is me as of right now, my body as it is. Not perfect, not show-ready or Victoria's Secret ready, but it is mine and my soul is happy. I work out five days a week, but there are times when I don’t due to injuries, or travels. And you know what? That's just fine with me. I do it solely for myself, not for my job anymore. I eat what I want and I feel no guilt. And for me that's a good feeling. Maybe I wasn't made to be on the covers of magazines and shooting the biggest and best brands, but I was made for a reason. I do deserve to be happy and feel fulfilled. We all do. Maybe I was made to share this story and spread the message of body love to all the women out there struggling."
What an amazing woman. Perhaps this could be just the boost you need to embrace what you were born with, and to start making the most of your natural state rather than enduring the constant struggle of exercise you don't want to do and food you don't want to eat.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.