“I’m choosing healthy over skinny”
courtesy elizabeth peace “Eight weeks prior to this photo being taken, I was constantly bloated and way out of shape. My husband was deployed and I was really struggling with taking care of my health properly while working constantly and raising kids without him. I also am a volunteer who teaches child sex abuse prevention classes for parents, and a friend of mine was the former Mrs. Virginia. She talked me into joining the pageant and getting involved in Beachbody to get in shape. The photo was me winning the fitness award, and the crown, two months later. Since then, I realized how much I loved the world of health and fitness and am now helping others. I am finishing my certification this summer to teach fitness classes in person at our current duty station. Since then, I’ve learned a great deal about nutrition and have started lifting weights so I could focus more on ‘healthy’ as opposed to skinny and actually, I gained three pounds. I took myself from a place where I felt out of shape, and I was, but also I did something I didn’t know was possible.” —Elizabeth Peace
“My confidence is beautiful”
courtesy jennie lynn “The reason I feel this picture is empowering is because I was a tom-boy growing up and even though I dreamed of being a model, I always saw myself as the ugly duckling and not comfortably photogenic. It didn’t help that I was a late bloomer. I never got asked to any school dances and was very introverted and insecure. Throughout my adolescence, this translated into severe body image issues and perfectionism, which started to erode my health, causing autoimmune hypothyroidism. The qualities that ultimately empowered me were unrelenting willpower and passion. I saw my goal through to become a pro model and pro bodybuilder. This photo was taken just months after I entered my first competitive fitness competition. I now see myself as a confident, inspiring, and successful young woman, and after finally giving myself a healthy dose of self-love and achieving a positive body image, I was able to fully heal myself. This was the real win, and I endeavor to inspire millions of women to do the same!” —JennieLynn
“I am more than my scars”
courtesy michelle elman “I have had 15 surgeries, a brain tumor, a brain cyst, a punctured intestine, an obstructed bowel, and a condition called Hydrocephalus, and for many years, I always hid my scars. When I was 21 though, I decided to become a life coach and specialize in body confidence. In doing so, I realized this was the last battle I had to face in terms of my body confidence. I wore a bikini for the first time and launched my campaign Scarred Not Scared on Instagram to talk about surgery scars and unveil the silence that often surrounds chronic illness.” —Michelle Elman. Here’s why seeing all different body sizes is good for our mental health.