A 21-year-old wore a bikini for the first time and sent a powerful message about loving your body

Lesley Miller was in Weight Watchers at age seven and underwent weight-loss surgery at age 11. She spent years using a number on a scale to determine her self worth. 

Now she’s proudly posing in her very first bikini for the entire world to see. 

Last week, Miller shared her moving story with the Facebook page Love What Matters. In the post, she details her lifelong weight loss struggle and her constant feelings of shame because her body never looked the way it was “supposed to.”

Then, at age 21, she decided she was fed up. She bought a bikini for the first time in her life, put it on, and captured this photo: 

PostbyLove What Matters.

Here’s the text that accompanied the snapshot:

“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 that 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 they did. 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 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 transformation captured the hearts of thousands of people who commented with words of support. The post’s viral reach is a huge win for what’s known the called body positivist movement. Its core tenets: There’s no one body type that’s “right,” and all bodies are good bodies. 

Most importantly, Miller’s post proves it’s possible to love yourself no matter how you look, even if you’ve spent a lifetime believing otherwise.  

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