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Woman uses shapewear to inspire others to embrace themselves at any size

Is shapewear a useful tool, or a literal pain in the butt?

Every woman has to find her own relationship to spandex — but this viral photo offers an important reminder about the effect it can have on our self-image.

Meet Olivia Callaghan, a 24-year-old from Birmingham, United Kingdom. After years of struggling with bipolar disorder, self-harm and bulimia, Callaghan started her Instagram, @selfloveliv, to destigmatize mental health and spread a message of self-love.

"Through my platform, I'd love young people to understand that ... it's OK to not be OK at times, and that they are beautiful and wonderful just the way they are," she told TODAY in an email.

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Which brings us to shapewear, a product inherently somewhat at odds with the whole you're-beautiful-as-you-are thing.

"I used to wear my Spanx whenever I went out," recalled Callaghan. "I was trying on outfits (one night) when my Spanx were really tight. I'd gained a little weight and realized I was relying on my Spanx too much. They became a crutch for me, and I didn't like that."

(The shapewear is not confirmed to be the Spanx brand.)

To be clear: This isn't about undergarments. It's about falling victim to the comparison trap — not only to (probably shapewear-clad) celebrities on the red carpet, but also to unsustainable versions of ourselves.

"I in no way want to shame people who do wear them," said Callaghan. "I just want people to realize that they are wonderful and beautiful regardless of how much they weigh."

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"Your weight shouldn't define your worth," she continued. "I've been a size 6 and I'm now a size 14, and at both I've felt beautiful. It doesn't matter what number is on the scale, but how good and large your heart is."

A message that bears remembering, no matter what's under our clothes.

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