Plus-size model who gained weight: 'There may be "more" of me now, but there is also more happiness'

Model Alyssa Alexander before, left, and after her weight gain. (Photo: Instagram/alyssaalexander_88)
Model Alyssa Alexander before, left, and after her weight gain. (Photo: Instagram/alyssaalexander_88)

Plus-size model Alyssa Alexander spent most of her life trying to lose weight. She constantly stressed about her appearance, calorie counting, stepping on and off the scale. She was trying to mirror what she thought society required for her to be called beautiful. But that was her then — she is different now.

In a recent post, the 29-year-old shared with her nearly 20,000 Instagram followers before-and-after transformation photos. However, it was not a weight-loss but a weight-gain transformation, and she couldn’t be happier.

No, this isnt what you think it is. This is not a weight loss transformation picture, but a transformation to happiness picture. . . While some people may prefer the girl on the left, I do not. I am not that girl on the left anymore. That girl was miserable with herself. That girl who was conditioned to think she was fat and couldnt wear that bathing suit in public. That girl that constantly restricted herself, who counted every calorie and ran 5 miles a day and spent hours upon hours in the gym because she was scared her boyfriend wouldn't love her if she gained a pound. The girl that was so insecure with herself and had a horrible relationship with herself and with food. That girl had constant anxiety about trying to be this perfect person for others. That girl that punished herself for eating certain things or missing a day at the gym. . . The girl on the right is much more happier and confident in herself. She works out and eats healthy because she loves her body and what it does for her, not because she hates it or wants to change it for others. She has balance. . . I listen to my body now and give it what it needs to be healthy and happy. Not what I think others or society deems acceptable or beautiful. . . Everyone thinks that once you lose "x" amount of weight you will be happy, when the truth is, for some of us, that transformation to happiness is just the opposite. Everytime that girl on the left would lose weight or hit that "goal weight" her happiness wouldnt change. She was still miserable and unhappy with herself. There may be "more" of me now, but there is also more happiness in me than that girl on the left. . . So go ahead and eat all the foods tomorrow and be happy #thankful . FYI- the tattoo on the left was henna on Spring Break . #instagood #photooftheday #plusmodel #OwnYourCurves #curvygirl #girlswithcurves #celebratemysize #bodypositive #bodyconfidence #loveyourbody #healthyatanysize #ThisBody #thesecurves #happiness #beautybeyondsize #Bodypositivity #curves #happy

A post shared by Alyssa Alexander (@alyssaalexander_88) on Nov 22, 2017 at 12:23pm PST

The Kentucky native told Yahoo Lifestyle what inspired her to share the transformation photo. “I see many women daily struggling with their body image and themselves and their happiness in general,” she says. “I realize that while there may be more of me now, there is also more happiness that no amount of weight loss could make up for. I wanted to show that you can still be a healthy, happy person even if you are plus-size or may have a little extra fat or curves on you. It’s not something to be ashamed of or hide.”

In the “before” photo, Alexander says, while she was striving for physical health and fitness, her mental health was struggling: “The effect that eating disorders and body dysmorphia have on a person’s mental health can be just as bad as your physical health,” she says.

The model thought the only way she could achieve happiness was if she hit that goal weight or transformed her body into something that she thought her then-boyfriend wanted, or that society deemed beautiful and acceptable. “We’ve been conditioned to think that smaller is always better … in reality, it’s whatever makes you happier is better,” she says.

Alexander was able to let go of the negative drive toward “perfection” and began the journey to self-love. Her journey led her to become a plus-size model. She also works full-time at the Kentucky Horse Park, bartends at a painting studio, and frequently travels to Los Angeles and New York City for modeling.

She wants to clarify that despite her weight gain, she is healthy, works out regularly, has a balanced diet, and is in no way promoting obesity. “You can have fat and be happy and healthy. Fat does not automatically mean lazy, unhealthy, or, worst of all, a personal failure,” she says.

On what she wants others who are struggling with self-love to know, she says, “You shouldn’t have to live every day hating yourself or wanting to change yourself. I wasted so much precious time being unhappy with myself, trying to change my body.

“I see now the progress I have made in not only my body image but my overall happiness by not letting those numbers define my worth, [and] I want to help others find that peace within themselves as well.”

And by sharing her journey publicly, she is doing just that.

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