Style

Woman compares swimsuit pics of herself at 13 and 26 — with a powerful message

The weather is getting warmer and bikini season is right around the corner. But for many women, donning a swimsuit can be an emotionally hard task.

Rachel Spencer, a life coach in New York City, recently posted a photo on Instagram that really hit home with a lot of viewers. Underneath a picture of her 13-year-old self hiding her tummy while wearing a swimsuit, the text reads, “I’ve been sitting here trying to think of a good caption but this photo just makes me sad when I look at it.”

I've been sitting here trying to think of a good caption but this photo just makes me sad when I look at it. So how about I ask you a question: Who taught the young girl on the left to hide her tummy before taking pictures in a swimsuit❓ Who taught her that at only 13 years old, her chubby little body was unworthy of a photographic memory❓ It definitely wasn't her parents or family, so who was it? Well, did you know that this innocent young girl was bullied for her weight? Not by the girls. The girls were nice. But the boys...the boys were mean. From then on out, she never wanted to go to the pool, saw boys as a threat, cried to her teachers, etc etc. Things started to get better in middle school, but then came the media. *Knock Knock* Diet culture, fitness, cellulite cream--CELLULITE?? Why was a 13 year old worried about cellulite??? Because the media told her it was bad. That SHE was bad and needed to change. If you couldn't tell by now, the young girl was me. There's a big difference between the closed off, hiding, young girl on the left and the carefree, happy, open girl on the right. ❤️And that difference is self love.❤️ I taught it to myself. I had to. I had to find a way to be happy. The process wasn't quick. I'm still working on it at 26 years old. But I have a message for all the women who are much older and STILL feel ashamed to show their tummy at the pool: Don't be. Put on that bikini and smile. Don't feel the need to let other people's opinions ruin precious memories with your friends and family. Show your daughters what it's like to flaunt their flaws at the pool. No shame. Your imperfections tell a story. Your body is beautiful. You are BEAUTIFUL.

A post shared by Rachel Spencer (@mylifecoachrachel) on

The caption continues: "Who taught this young girl on the left to hide her tummy before taking pictures in a swimsuit? Who taught her that at only 13 years old, her chubby little body was unworthy of a photographic memory?"

Spencer told TODAY Style that she decided to share the picture — alongside one of her now at age 26 — to help others see that “we are all different and that's what makes us beautiful.”

“My struggle with low self-esteem started when I was only in the second grade,” she said. “I already had acne, glasses, braces, and to top it all off I was gaining weight faster than all of my friends. I didn't even realize my weight was an issue until I saw a teen magazine cover mentioning cellulite cream and a seven-day ‘skinny cleanse.’”

Spencer said that, and the fact that that she was bullied for her weight by some mean boys, made her never want to go to the pool when she was younger.

Closed Captioning
apply | reset x
font
size
T
T
T
T
color

Amy Schumer fires back at swimwear designer over fat-shaming

Play Video - 1:38

Amy Schumer fires back at swimwear designer over fat-shaming

Play Video - 1:38

“Now as a confidence coach, I speak to women and young girls all over the country about how to remain confident in our bodies and overall self. It's my mission to make sure that we no longer live in a society that wants to mold us into one type of body.”

She says it took her a while to find self-love, and even now, she’s still working on it.

One of the tricks she uses is an exercise where she looks in the mirror, and for every negative thing she says about herself, she has to combat that with two positive things — for example: "My skin looks really bad right now" but "my hair is long and amazing, and my smile lights up the room."

Another message she has for women feeling ashamed about showing their tummy at the pool? “Don't be. Put on that bikini and smile. Don't feel the need to let other people's opinions ruin precious memories with your friends and family.”

Spencer adds that mothers should show daughters what it's like to flaunt their so-called flaws at the pool.

“I just hope that people start to realize body image issues start at a very young age,” she said. "We need to set a good example and teach our children from day one that all bodies are good bodies. Don't teach your children to be pretty. Teach them to be kind, smart and accepting of everyone.”

RELATED

Forget the bikini! The one-piece is now officially more popular

Pink's Instagram wisdom on baby weight and body image: 'Stay off that scale'

Ashley Graham: What I tell myself in the mirror to feel confident

TOP