Weight gain has a bad reputation. It’s rarely seen as an improvement when someone puts on extra pounds these days. Yet, not too long ago, the exact opposite was true. Slimming down until your ribs were visible and you hardly looked like an everyday person was a sign of illness or malnutrition. People knew it wasn’t healthy to be extremely plump, but a hefty build wasn’t something to be ashamed of like it is in the fashion world today. Bulky meant you were nourished and strong. It was a positive. Recently, these realistic beliefs about weight and body image came to the forefront thanks to an unconventional campaign by former model Liza Golden-Bhojwani. Tired of the pressures placed on her by casting directors and stylists, Liza quit modeling a few years ago and became a voice for women who were struggling with body image in the fashion world. In March of this year, her message exploded on Instagram, launching her into the national spotlight. Here’s more about her journey to personal understanding and acceptance.
500 CALORIES A DAY
The story behind Liza’s transformation has a frightening beginning. A single glance at these before and after pictures will tell you that. Passionate to make it as a model, the young Liza on the left ate a mere 500 calories a day or less to slim up for shows. It was a deathly diet that resulted in plenty of jobs but left her body ailing and worn. After fainting while preparing one of her daily steamed edamame meals, she decided to call the minuscule diet quits.
MANAGING NEW POUNDS
Initially, Liza’s decision to quit starving herself and eat like a normal person didn’t result in any drastic change in her career. The following spring, she made it through NYFW without major designers realizing much of a change except that her energy level had improved. It was when she auditioned for London Fashion Week a few weeks later that the extra pounds start to catch up with her. One too many New York slices, perhaps? Whatever tipped the scales, it proved the defining moment for Liza. She decided the fashion world wasn’t worth the toll it took on her body and left for good.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SUPPORT
Liza made a bold choice when she turned from a successful career on the runway to pursue other interests. Heroic as her determination is, she’d be the first to say that her personal revolution would not have been possible without the help and support of family and friends. If you’re struggling with body image or issues related to your weight, don’t hesitate to ask those closest to you for help and guidance. Changing how you approach your appearance is hard. No one should have to go through that process alone.
EMBRACING THE NEW YOU
To shatter industry expectations when it comes to weight, you must be comfortable in your own skin. It can be tempting to feel like you just didn’t have enough perseverance or discipline to manage your body effectively. That’s a dangerous myth to toy with. Sure, you could eat 20 pieces of edamame a day until your ribs were showing, but is that worth the toil? Accepting your body is all about respecting what you have naturally. Don’t force yourself to be unnaturally skinny or indulgently large. Find the happy medium where you’re eating tasty food and exercising a good amount. That should be your optimal normal.
JOIN THE MOVEMENT
You don’t have to paint a sign and march with it to join the voices demanding a more realistic approach to body image from the fashion industry. Accepting your natural beauty despite those pencil-thin models littering billboards and magazine across the globe is already a huge step. All it takes is a choice like Liza made back in 2012. Dare to pick the free future. We could use a few more iconoclastic fashionistas.
Liza Golden- Bhojwani deserves your applause. Her inspiring transformation is raising awareness for self-acceptance and more reasonably sized clothing from top fashion brands. One a more personal level, she’s changing lives by reminding women all over the world what really matters. Don’t try to live up to corporate expectations every season. Live up to what feels healthy for you.
— Scarlett Price