Allison Kimmey, a mother of two from Cocoa Beach, Fla., routinely shares candid bikini selfies with her 72,000 followers on Instagram. Her latest post is a split-screen image depicting Kimmey at a previous size 6 and at her current size 16, and it makes the point that happiness doesn’t always stem from body perfection.
Transformation photos typically show a weight-loss progression; however, lately, a slew of women have been sharing “reverse transformation” images that portray weight gain, in an effort to reimagine the concept of health.
In March, plus-size model Charli Howard posted a photo of herself at a thinner weight during a time when she “starved” herself, along with one of herself heavier but “healthy.” And in February, blogger Megan Jayne Crabbe posted a previous photo of herself with chiseled abs and then one with curves, along with a written defense of why she’s happier at a heavier weight.
“I spent most of my adolescence as an overweight, shy teen trying to avoid any situation that pushed me outside my comfort zone or put me in front of people,” Kimmey wrote in the April 18 post, which received more than 5,000 likes. “I worked desperately hard to lose weight at the age of 14, when I began my first diets, restricted eating and over exercising habits. I equated happiness to thinness. That once I was able to fit into Hollister jeans I’d be the popular outgoing girl I thought I wanted to be.”
Kimmey also explained that over a period of 12 years, her weight fluctuated by 100 pounds, while she compared herself with others and experienced low self-esteem. “Even as a size 2/4 on my wedding and honeymoon, I could only see my perceived flaws,” she wrote.
After she gave birth to her daughter in 2012, Kimmey found herself wishing that her baby wouldn’t grow up to resemble herself. “And at that moment I realized that I needed to change … not only for myself, but for my entire family — especially my children,” she wrote.
According to Kimmey, scrolling through social media and seeing people’s transformation photos depicting thin women looking happy and overweight woman looking sad, she had an epiphany: “I looked back at my own journey and realized it happened to be exactly the opposite of what we are taught to believe,” she wrote. “My hope is that these reverse transformation photos allow one person to find happiness now!”
Kimmey did not return requests for comment; however, she told Yahoo Beauty in March that her self-confidence has rubbed off on her daughter. “One day, I told her, ‘Everyone says we look alike,'” she shared. “She said, ‘Mom I don’t want to look like you — I want to look like me.’”
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