All-consuming body image pressure is something Maggie Greene knows all too well, and she isn't afraid to share her story.
Growing up, friends and family had frequently suggested she try modeling. But having heard the horror stories about the stress to maintain a rail-thin physique, Greene had her hesitations. Then, at age 16, she saw an opportunity to give it a try. To get runway ready, the 5-foot-11-inch beauty began using the diet and workout routines of top models. Copying soon turned into compulsion.
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She started obsessing over everything she ate (consuming no more than 900 calories a day and documenting every single bite) and working out excessively for up to three hours a day. Every morning, she stepped on the scale, whipped out the tape measure and watched the numbers dwindle.
Three months later, she won a modeling search competition and was signed by a local agency. And then her period stopped. She saw a doctor who diagnosed her with amenorrhea, the absence of menstruation due to too little food and too much exercise. But even this wasn’t enough to change her behavior.
With the annual agency showcase in sight, Greene continued her unhealthy ways. When the big day came, she was devastated to find out that she still wasn’t “small enough.” But this disappoint was the catalyst for her transformation.
“It truly was a breakdown to breakthrough,” she told TODAY Style. “It was a really combination of things ... I felt defeated, I was miserable restricting my diet and counting every calorie, and my doctor’s concerns also played a role.”
Soon after, she received an offer to join Wilhelmina’s curve board. The caveat? She would need to put back on the weight she worked so hard to lose. Ultimately, Greene decided it was the right choice for her mentally and physically.
“I gained about 30-35 pounds. The people in my life — both personally and professionally — have been nothing but supportive. My friends and family can see how much happier and healthier I am. And the modeling world, fashion industry and social media followers have been surprisingly welcoming.”
Years later, Greene says she was inspired to tell her story after finding a photo of her at her smallest. “I was just shocked at how different I look. I immediately thought about how unhappy I was in regards to my relationship with food and my body. Comparing the pictures brought tears to my eyes, and I wanted people to know that there is freedom in learning to love your body in its natural form.”
Her advice to others? “Be yourself and be content with the body you have. It’s great to workout and eat healthy, but it’s important to be realistic and not let it consume you. Whatever your shape is, embrace it. Every body is beautiful.”