Transformation photos — before and after shots that depict weight loss — are the latest Internet sensation, but one model’s unconventional take on the trend is truly inspiring.
On Sunday size-6 model Charli Howard (who is considered plus-size by industry standards) posted an Instagram photo of two split-screened selfies — one at her current weight after “having eaten more food than is humanly necessary” and the other at a previous, lower weight showing a “miserable girl … whose gums were always bleeding, hair was falling out, periods didn’t come.”
Howard explains that she prefers her current shape — “I like how womanly I’m starting to look. I like how my boobs and thighs are getting bigger” — and that at her former weight, she felt compelled to overexercise and restrict her food intake. The model also shared how easy it was to revert to her former mindset after recently reading negative comments about herself online. “I just began sobbing at Austin Airport, which was a bit embarrassing, but it was a reflection of how I felt inside,” Howard wrote. After a passerby consoled her, Howard “realised that my worth wasn’t representative of some mean trolls on the internet. It’s taken me years but I LIKE MY BODY & MY SHAPE. I’m finally healthy. My body isn’t validated by anyone else’s views of me. And neither is yours!”
Howard’s post is notable because typical transformation images portray weight loss, not weight gain. In addition, Howard is refreshingly transparent about the poor state of her mental and physical health while looking her so-called best. More than 4,200 people have liked Howard’s post and commented that she looks happier and healthier at her current weight.
“I get a lot of feedback from women who are really affected by the images they see in the media,” Howard tells Yahoo Beauty. “Many tell me that I’m ‘brave’ for posting such photos, but why is showing my body in underwear brave?”
Howard adds, “These days, everyone has an editing app on their phones to spruce themselves up. But it’s important to show one’s flaws — a zit, some cellulite — because we’ve become obsessed with chasing perfection.”
The British model has always been honest about her evolution to self-acceptance. In another Instagram post, she described how she “starved herself” for a decade, arriving to a photo shoot “shaking” from lack of energy and begging a photographer to “photoshop me thinner.”
In 2015 she wrote an open letter to her former agency on Facebook, blasting the organization for allegedly calling her “too big” and “out of shape” to work as a model. She wrote in part, “I will no longer allow you to dictate to me what’s wrong with my looks and what I need to change in order to be ‘beautiful’ … in the hope it might force you to find me work. …
“In case you hadn’t realised, I am a woman. I am human. I cannot miraculously shave my hip bones down, just to fit into a sample size piece of clothing or to meet ‘agency standards’. I have fought nature for a long time, because you’ve deemed my body shape too “curvaceous”, but I have recently began to love my shape. …
“And anyway, let’s face the facts: when I was 7 and a half stone, I still wasn’t thin enough for you. When I went to the gym 5 hours a week, you still weren’t finding me work. I can’t win.”
After leaving her agency, Howard founded the All Woman Project, a body positive foundation for young girls, and even takes issue with the term plus-size, telling Yahoo Beauty, “If young girls look at me and think I’m curvy, they may worry, ‘What does that say about me?’”
Howard joins a slew of plus-size models spreading body love. Ashley Graham has shared close-up photos of her cellulite on social media, writing on Instagram, “I love the skin I’m in. And I’m not ashamed of a few lumps, bumps or cellulite.. and you shouldn’t be either.” And Nadia Aboulhosn recently penned an essay in New York magazine called “Why I’m Proud to Be a Size 10.”
Read more from Yahoo Style + Beauty:
- Why This Lingerie Photo of Two ‘Very Different’ Best Friends Is Important
- Mom’s Bikini Photo Proves Women Can Be ‘Gorgeous’ With Cellulite
- Braces Can Be Beautiful. Here’s Proof.