Lesley Miller, a student at Rice University in Houston, Texas, posted this bikini photo on Facebook that went viral in days, but not for the reason you might expect.
Lesley Miller is in her mid-20s and has struggled with body image issues all her life. Like many women, she was constantly unhappy with her own body and only saw beauty in the seemingly perfect women she saw in the magazines, on the runways, and on TV.
ABC News brought Lesley Miller’s story to light after the bikini photo went viral online and sparked quite the conversation about body positivity and body dismorphia.
Summer is here, and women everywhere are scurrying to jump on extreme diets, exercise, and other methods to quickly lose weight and be “bikini body ready.”
Miller discusses being bullied about her bigger-than-average weight as a child.
“It’s hard not to let them bother me, but I know that a stranger on the internet is far from an expert on life, and they likely have their own personal reasons for spewing hatred.”
Lesley’s image issues worsened when her insecurities led to self-harming and eating disorders. She told ABC News that her severe insecurity with herself has prevented her from ever buying a bikini, let alone being photographed in one. Uploading a bikini photo to Facebook is the absolute last thing Lesley would have seen herself doing a year ago.
Lesley began her brave Facebook post by saying that she was no longer going to allow herself to feel ashamed of who she is. She finally went out and purchased the itsy bitsy, colorful bikini of her dreams.
She captioned the beautiful shot to explain the reasoning behind the bikini photo to all of her Facebook friends.
“I’ve spent the past 18 years of my life waiting. I kept my body covered up and hidden away. I told myself that one day I would finally let myself be seen; I would finally do all of the things I dreamed of when I was enough.
“Thin enough, happy enough, confident enough. When my body looked the way it was ‘supposed to.’ I fought my body every step of the way, continually ashamed and silent.
“When I was three my classmates asked why I was so much bigger than them. Why I didn’t wear the same smock as them. When I was seven, I lied to the lady at Weight Watchers, desperate to sit in on meetings full of middle aged women trying to shed a few pounds.
“When I was nine I went to weight loss camp and stood in a line the first week to take my ‘before’ photo. When I was eleven the surgeon cut into my stomach, and he told me how happy I would finally be. I was the youngest person to have weight loss surgery.
“When I was fifteen, I started cutting into my own skin. I thought I deserved it. When I was twenty, I lost half my body weight in nine months, my worth for the day solely determined by the number on the scale being lower than the day before. And then I got tired of waiting.
“So now I’m twenty one and I bought my first bikini. EVER.
“You can see it all. Weird bulges and rolls of fat. Hanging excess skin. Stretch marks, cellulite, surgical and self-harm scars. Awkward protrusion on my abdomen from my lap band.
“I want to learn to love all of myself, not just the parts I’ve been told are ‘acceptable.’ Because the secret is, I was always enough. And you are too :)”
Miller’s post was shared by thousands on Facebook and spread across the internet like wildfire. Women around the world can all sympathize with her. We have all felt bad about ourselves, felt insecure, or not good enough. Growing up in a society filled with impossible expectations of women is extremely challenging for the average woman.
The average woman does not have a thigh gap, perfect perky breasts, and washboard abs. We have parts we want to suck in, tuck in, and hide to prevent anyone else from seeing them. But what Miller says is absolutely right — women need to stop hiding and being ashamed of their bodies. This is who we are. This is a real woman. Deal with it.
Lesley’s Facebook post was eloquently written and touched many hearts around the world. The post has shared tens of thousands of times. Love and support have been pouring out for Lesley’s giant, progressive step in the “Body Positivity” movement.
Enough is enough. Magazines, runways, and media do not portray what a real woman looks like in our world today. Their attributes are unattainable. Half of the reason most of them look the way they do is because they have loads of money to cosmetically perfect themselves. There’s also professional photo-shoppers.
The scale does not determine your worth. You do, and you are worthy. There is no type of body that is “right” or “normal.”
“I am continually working toward being at peace with my body and loving myself unconditionally. But I want people in the depths of body image or eating struggles to know that it gets better.”
Lesley waited 21 years to buy her first bikini because she did not feel her body was good enough. Good enough for who? Don’t let society shame you into thinking you are not bikini ready!
Your body is bikini ready right now. Your body is amazing/flawless/sexy enough just the way it is. Flaunt what your mama gave you, love yourself, love your body, and go take a beautiful, beachy bikini photo!
You go, Lesley! To support the body positivity movement, I will parade around the office in my bikini tomorrow and treat myself to a fat burrito.
[Photo by Dennis Rowe/BIPs/Getty Images]