Love Your Body

'I am free to finally be who I am': Fashion model celebrates her weight gain

Today, Liza Golden-Bhojwani is a successful plus-sized model, as well as a body-positive hero for countless women.

But just a few years ago, she was a dangerously thin runway model, following a punishing workout regimen and nearly starving herself to maintain size zero measurements. At one point, she was eating just 500 calories per day, she revealed to Vogue India.

Golden-Bhojwani, 27, shared this powerful photo last month on Instagram, comparing her previous body to her current figure.

A little flashback Friday action for you. This caption will be long and won't fit, so if you'd like to read please find the rest in the comment section....The left side was me at the start of the peak of my career. My first proper fashion week where I was actually the size I needed to be. I was booking amazing shows that one never thinks they actually could, walking with girls who I once looked up to, it was a serious adrenaline rush...but after fainting one night in my apt whilst preparing one of my very low cal meals (I think it was 20 pieces of steamed edamame if I remember correctly), I called it quits with the diet and workout regime I was put on and decided I could do it on my own. I thought to myself, I can still be this thin, but I'll just eat a little more so I don't feel so horrible. Well, eating a little more turned into eating nearly a bag full of almonds, which then turned into eating full size meals, which then turned into a full blown binge. I was craving every single food you could imagine and I was giving in to every craving even though I knew this was such an important time in my career. I made it through NYFW okay, no one had noticed any weight gain, but by the time I had gotten the LFW I could see the pounds starting to show both in the mirror and on the measuring tape, but I kept quiet obviously not wanting to sabotage myself. I found myself going to the grocery store and picking up raw vegetables to try and make up for the near two week binge I had in NY, but I didn't see any weight coming off no matter how "healthy" I was eating and no matter how many workouts I fit in. MFW came and I knew I was bigger and by bigger I mean a 35.5in hip rather than the 34.5in hip I started with in NY, I played it cool and just pretended everything was normal. I did end up booking shows, Dolce & Gabbana being one of them. Which I afterwards received online criticism about my thighs looking fat...Anyways PFW came about, and I found it impossible to resist those chocolate croissants 🙊 I went on many a casting with one exclusive option being on my schedule, but after meeting the client I knew the reason for me not nailing the gig, my size...

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"The left side was me at the start of the peak of my career," she wrote in the caption.

At that time, she was just breaking through as a high-fashion model, appearing in magazines like Vogue Italia and Elle and walking fashion week runways in London, Paris, New York and Milan.

“I was booking amazing shows that one never thinks they actually could," she wrote in the photo caption. "It was a serious adrenaline rush.”

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Her success, however, came at an harsh physical price. At the peak of her high-end fashion career, she felt a constant pressure to maintain nearly impossible body measurements for her tall frame, including a hip measurement of just 34.5 inches. Back then, one of her entire meals could consist of 20 steamed pieces of edamame.

“I could be so thin, yet it was never enough,” Golden-Bhojwani told TODAY Style via email. “There was never a point where I could say, ‘Okay this is it, this is the furthest I will go.’ I always wanted to go farther and be even smaller the next time.”

However, when she fainted from hunger in her apartment one night, it was a wake up call. She started eating more, and though she tried to maintain her size zero measurements, she eventually gained weight and stopped booking high-end modeling jobs.

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For a while, she quit modeling altogether. But in 2014, she felt a sudden surge of motivation to work out, lose weight and return to the industry.

“Out of the blue one day, I found myself saying, ‘Okay, this is it, you can do it again, focus, diet strictly and workout like a beast so you can get that body back and get back to working,’” she wrote in an Instagram post.

However, after a while, Golden-Bhojwani realized she was once again trying to fight her body, instead of embracing its natural shape.

She decided it was finally time to accept her body just as it is, and not try to force it into a size it was never meant to be. Last year, she decided to shift her career focus and re-enter the fashion industry as a plus-sized model.

I can't believe that this time next week I will be in London, working. Last year this time, I had just gotten married and been enjoying all our wedding celebrations with friends. I never planned on starting to work again. I never thought I would be able to face the industry I had been in for so long, but felt I had failed at so incredibly. But then out of the blue one day, I found myself saying, "okay, this is it, you can do it again, focus, diet strictly, and workout like a beast so you can get that body back and get back to working." You know how it goes, it takes you 3+ months to get in shape, but takes you just a week to start losing that perfect muscle tone you have been working so hard on. It's quite frustrating. All I ever wanted was to be a naturally small girl. Naturally thin. The girls who were just BORN for this shit. They were born to fit in every damn thing perfectly. God how many years I wished that upon myself. But then I realised, that would never be me, I would never be the size 0-2 girl who can just be that way without having to slave away at it... I have come to terms with it and accepted it as you may have noticed in my previous posts. I have moved on from the obsession of fitting into the standard perfect model mould. And I have decided to make my own mould, my own shape, my own personal being. Again, I know I am not perfect. I am not perfect physically, mentally, or emotionally. I am really not sure WHO is. I have been through my trials and tribulations, where I really just lost hope in myself, life, and the world... But I would like to share with you that even the most broken and imperfect people can see the light at the end of the tunnel. One day, somehow, there is always hope for a positive outcome in each and every one of our lives. Photo credit: @thirdeyejedi #newbeginnings #positivevibes #loveyourself #riseabove #bodypositive #effyourbeautystandards #thisisme

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“There has been an increase in the amount of work given to curvier girls these days, and I just felt I needed to give myself a shot at trying,” she told TODAY.

Golden-Bhojwani returned to her modeling agency in New York to discuss the new approach to her career, and she was “pleasantly surprised” by their positive reaction.

Now, her new modeling career is in full swing and she's healthier and happier than ever.

"When I started going out on castings again, I can honestly say I felt a better vibe than I ever had felt before," she said. "I think this may have been where I was meant to be all along, but I just didn’t know it yet."

She admitted there are still days when she feels insecure about her weight, but she has learned to bounce back from the negative feelings more quickly. And, when she looks back at photos of herself as an extremely skinny model, she only feels grateful for how far she has come.

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“I don't miss the misery,” she told TODAY. “I don't miss the calculations and category breakup of what I ate. I don't miss the obsessive compulsive diaries I kept. I am happy to just be alive and at a healthy state mentally, emotionally and physically.

“At the end of the day, if you are not naturally a size zero to two, all the blood, sweat and tears it takes to get there really can really take a toll on you and your mental health,” she continued. “I didn't even know who I actually was as a person. Whereas now, I am free to finally be who I am.”