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This Model Stopped Trying to Be 'Thin,' and Now She's Happier Than Ever

Charli Howard made the news earlier this year after helping create the All Woman Project, a powerful photo series featuring diverse models in all their unretouched glory. Their goal? To prove the fashion photography can be beautiful without altering images and changing women's bodies.

Becoming a body-positive advocate helped Howard fall in love with the skin she was born in. Despite being body shamed out of modeling after being told she was "too big" and "out of shape," Howard has worked hard to earn back her confidence. And her latest Instagram post shows just how hard she fought to get there.

 

I may be smiling in the photo on the left, but in reality, I was miserable. I hated life, but at the same time, I was ambitious. I associated success with thinness, just like the size 0-era influenced many girls my age. I didn't care that my gums constantly bled, that I got constant cramps in my feet, that my hands were always cold, my periods irregular (if they came), that my skin was horrific or that my moods were erratic, because all I wanted to be was THIN. And 'thin' meant one thing: that my dreams of being a model were in reach. Yet my then-agent told me I had to be thinner because my hip measurement still wasn't the "ideal" size to get the best modelling jobs, or to be put forward for them. And guess what—even when I was half a stone/7lbs lighter than what you see here (that wasn't my thinnest!), I STILL THOUGHT I WAS FAT!! But it doesn't need to be this way, and the industry is slowly changing. Beauty isn't measured by a number or a dress size! I feel so lucky to be in a position now where my agents support me and don't ask me to lose anything. I'm surrounded by beautiful girls of all sizes & shapes because my agency sees the beauty in different bodies, just like agencies should (HELLO, we're in 2016, bitches, not 1803). ALL GIRLS DESERVE TO BE REPRESENTED IN THE IMAGES THEY SEE. So girls, if your dream is to become a model, don't give up! NEVER feel you have to change yourself to become one, because I'm living my dream at the size I'm supposed to be  Stick to your guns & embrace your natural shape because confidence is what will make you shine And whilst I'm not the tallest, the thinnest or by any means the prettiest girl out there, I certainly feel like the HAPPIEST—and that's good enough for me #bodypositive #curves #iamallwoman @allwomanproject

A photo posted by Charli Howard (@charlihoward) on

In a split-screen image, Howard shows a picture of her body when she was trying to be a size zero next to an image of her today after she'd given up on the idea of being "thin." She looks happy in both pictures, but what she really felt was entirely different.

"I may be smiling in the photo on the left, but in reality, I was miserable," she writes in the caption. "I hated life, but at the same time, I was ambitious. I associated success with thinness, just like the size zero-era influenced many girls my age."

Howard believed that the only way she would be a successful model was if was she thin. To achieve that goal, she began eating less and doing whatever it took to lose weight.

"I didn't care that my gums constantly bled, that I got constant cramps in my feet, that my hands were always cold, my periods irregular (if they came), that my skin was horrific or that my moods were erratic," she said, "because all I wanted to be was THIN."

And even after she felt like she was finally small, her former agents told her she still wasn't good enough.

"I had to be thinner because my hip measurement still wasn't the 'ideal' size to get the best modeling jobs, or to be put forward for them," she said. "And guess what—even when I was half a stone/7lbs lighter than what you see here (that wasn't my thinnest!), I STILL THOUGHT I WAS FAT!!"

 

Happiness is not relative to a number on a scale or a piece of clothing—it's a state of mind! Rather than focusing your energy on being thinner, focus on your mental and physical health and the present day. Your future self will thank you for it. If you're fueling your worries into food and dieting, you need to address those things first!  I wasted over TEN YEARS of my life thinking fitting into a small size would make my life better (I went on my first diet at 12). And here's what I've learnt—being thin does NOT make you any happier. It never will. At my lowest weight, I still thought I was disgusting and fat. You wouldn't think it now, but I was constantly moody, anxious, snappy and depressed, to the point I was on medication for it. My mood would swing up and down like a yo-yo, yet I still thought losing a few more pounds would make all of that disappear. But suddenly, as I started to eat, my depression lifted. Life became colourful again. Being thin is not worth risking your health over. There are bigger girls who are healthy and happy leading wonderful lives, and I know whose mindset I'd rather have.  P.S for those of you asking, the pics I take myself are NOT photoshopped!  And neither should yours cause you're beautiful just the way you are  #bodypositive #happiness @allwomanproject

A photo posted by Charli Howard (@charlihoward) on

Now, Howard has found a new agency, Muse Management, where she finally feels like her body is accepted just the way it is.

"I'm surrounded by beautiful girls of all sizes and shapes because my agency sees the beauty in different bodies, just like agencies should (HELLO, we're in 2016, b*tches, not 1803). ALL GIRLS DESERVE TO BE REPRESENTED IN THE IMAGES THEY SEE."

Even though it's been a tough road trying to fulfill her dream of becoming a model, Howard still encourages girl in her shoes to keep on fighting. "I'm living my dream at the size I'm supposed to be," she writes. "And whilst I'm not the tallest, the thinnest or by any means the prettiest girl out there, I certainly feel like the HAPPIEST—and that's good enough for me."

Thank you for teaching us the importance of loving your shape.

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