Lesley Miller’s bikini photo has gone viral for the most beautiful reason. On June 2, the rising senior at Rice University in Houston shared a photo of herself in a two-piece bathing suit on the Facebook page Love What Matters.
“I’ve spent the past 18 years of my life waiting,” the 21-year-old wrote. “I kept my body covered up and hidden away.”
“I told myself that one day I would finally let myself be seen; I would finally do all the things I dreamed of when I was enough. Thin enough, happy enough, confident enough. When my body looked the way that it was ‘supposed’ to.”
She continued: “When I was seven, I lied to the lady at Weight Watchers, desperate to sit in on meetings full of middle aged women trying to shed a few pounds. When I was nine I went to weight loss camp and stood in line the first week to take my ‘before’ photo.”
Two years later, when Miller was just 11 years old, she had lap-band surgery. “I was the youngest person to have weight loss surgery,” she revealed.
At the age of 15 Miller began self-harming. “When I was twenty, I lost half my body weight in nine months, my worth for the day solely determined by the number on the scale being lower than the day before,” the psychology major wrote.
“And then I got tired tired of waiting,” she explained. “So now I’m twenty one and I bought my first bikini EVER.”
“You can see it all. Weird bulges and rolls of fat. Hanging excess skin. Stretch marks, cellulite, surgical and self harm scars. Awkward protrusion on my abdomen from my lap band. I want to learn to love all of myself, not just the parts I’ve been told are ‘acceptable.’ Because the secret is, I was always enough. And you are too.”
The emotional post has since been liked 38,000 times and shared nearly 3,000.
“I’ve had people critiquing my body,” Miller — who is deaf — tells Us Weekly. “It’s hard not to let them bother me, but I know that a stranger on the internet is far from an expert on life, and they likely have their own personal reasons for spewing hatred.”
But mostly she’s been flooded with words of support and kindness.
“I’ve gotten so many messages from other people who have dealt with similar struggles with their body image, eating disorders and self-harm,”Miller tells Us. “The most touching thing to me is the massive number of people who are late in adulthood sending me messages saying, ‘It’s taken me 60 years, but I’m finally learning to be OK with myself and my body. I’m so glad you’ve realized this now.’”
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