While trying to break into the modeling industry, Jennifer Atilemile was told that she needed to lose weight, despite the fact that her “bones were protruding.” And that harsh criticism of her body, she revealed in a recent Instagram post, has had a lasting impact on her health and how she sees herself.
In a side-by-side photo of what she looked like at 16 next to herself now 10 years later, Atilemile detailed the time in her life when she felt pressure to do as the agencies suggested like eat more salad and drop two dress sizes.
“The girl on the left wasn’t healthy. She might look ‘healthy’ to those who judge health by size. But she did no exercise, she counted calories, and then would purge the ones she did eat. Her food consumption was an obsession, her view of herself was so negative, and she thought she was too big still,” she wrote.
“Flash forward to 2017, after finding this photo; I was shocked at how my mind had played tricks on me. Now, I have a different view of how I should look- like myself. I’ve accepted my body, my shape, and the little things I used to think were flaws (especially my cellulite),” she continued. “I am now happier, healthier, and more confident than I was then. It is possible to love your body. Nobody is the same, and everyone’s bopo [body positive] journey is different. Just know that whatever stage of your journey that you’re on, you’re all beautiful as you are and worthy of so so much.”
Atilemile tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she’d been planning on sharing the post for a while but couldn’t find the right moment. “I just thought, let’s do it, it’s now or never,” she explains. “I wanted to just spread my message that size doesn’t necessarily determine health. Also coming into the holiday season when women are made to feel guilty about their food consumption, I just wanted to reiterate that there is no one size that determines a woman’s beauty.”
After dropping her straight-size modeling dream, she’s now sought after in the curvy market and has been working full time for two years. For her second shot at a career as a model, she says she’s not letting the pressures get to her.
“Looking back I realize I was at an age that was so impressionable, so I can now see why my mom stepped in and stopped this from happening. I’m so grateful,” she says.
She is overwhelmed by the support of her candid post. “The number of women that sent me messages saying that they had gone through the same thing was just astounding. To be honest, even though I had a few haters my message reached 320,000 people,” she says.
On what she wants others to know, Atilemile says, “Don’t judge a person’s health by their size. You can be fit, healthy and be a size 14-16. You can be fit, healthy at a size 6-8 too, all women are different, and unique and need to be celebrated.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
- Body-positive blogger explains why you shouldn’t call disabled people ‘an inspiration’
- This sexy photo shoot proves once and for all that size doesn’t define someone
- Plus-size model who gained weight: ‘There may be “more” of me now, but there is also more happiness’