Ari Perilstein/Getty Katie Maloney-Schwartz
Katie Maloney-Schwartz is getting candid about her self-love journey.
The Vanderpump Rules star, 35, penned a lengthy and "important" message about body positivity on Instagram on Thursday, sharing a photo — originally posted by castmate Raquel Leviss on her Story in honor of the reality star's birthday — that "some" people found "unflattering."
"Now it was alerted to her that this was 'mean' and to me that I should be ✨pissed✨. Neither of those things are true," Maloney-Schwartz wrote. "When I saw this I was like omg I look really happy, like that is a genuine smile right there. I'm not blind, I can clearly see the expression I'm making has given me about 12 chins."
The reality star went on to recall how her body has constantly been talked about over the years — "I should be ashamed of my body, calling out weight gain, weight loss, that I need to dress for my body," she wrote — adding that the constant chatter about her appearance messed with her head.
The You're Gonna Love Me podcast host explained that in the past, worrying about how she looked in photos made her not want to take pictures with her friends and family, and that it made it hard to "just enjoy the memories."
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"But not anymore. Being about to look at the photo and not feel shame and only happiness because I look so happy here is really showing me that the work I have been doing is improving my self image," she wrote. "Self hate/criticism is more damaging than that of others. So really be kinder to yourself, it's not easy some days, I have good and bad, but I'm working at it. ❤️."
While a ton of VPR cast members past and present, including Brittany Cartwright and Dayna Kathan — as well as James Kennedy, whom Maloney-Schwartz previously forgave for commenting on her appearance in the past — applauded the reality star for her honest caption, Leviss penned an equally heartfelt tribute to her "beautiful" friend.
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"I love you for standing up to this nonsense 😭 people can be so cruel," Leviss wrote. "I saw this photo and it make [sic] me smile cause it's so candid 😍 When I posted this, I kept thinking how effing cute your beaded heart bag is with that dress. I think you're so beautiful!!!!"
This isn't the first time Maloney-Schwartz has been open about loving and embracing the skin she's in, as she's long been an advocate of accepting her body as she's gotten older.
"I think it's just accepting change, and accepting that it's okay," she previously told PEOPLE. "Our bodies have done nothing but grow and change and grow some more since we were born. Knowing that it's okay — I don't need to look a certain way or I don't need to be the same size as I was when I was 25."