How would you feel if your bikini photo ever went viral? That’s exactly what happened to one Rice University student’s picture this month, and it’s making its way through the Internet for a good reason.
According to the Huffington Post, 21-year-old Lesley Miller posted a photo of herself in a bikini to Facebook on June 1 to commemorate a special occasion in her young life: it was the first time she had ever purchased a bikini.
She wrote in her post:
“I’ve spent the past 18 years of my life waiting.
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 of 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.
I fought my body every step of the way, continually ashamed and silent.”
The Huffington Post reported the measures Miller went to in order to change her body, which ranged from sitting in on Weight Watchers meetings at age 7 to receiving lap-band surgery in the fifth grade to cutting into her own skin at age 15.
While she told the Huffington Post that the surgery helped her to lose weight, it also made her quite sick, causing her to get the saline that keeps the band tight removed.
“The band remained in place, and I continue to get sick when eating to this day, but it no longer restricted how much I could eat,” she told the Huffington Post. “As a result, I gained all of the weight back and then some.”
Miller later lost the weight she gained back — half her body weight, to be exact — and at age 21, she decided that her self-worth would no longer be weighed down by the number she saw on the scale, spurring the purchase of her first bikini and her now-viral celebratory photo, says the Huffington Post. The photo, which was picked up by the Love What Matters Facebook page, has already received over 39,000 reactions as of Wednesday, June 22, according to HuffPost.
Now writing a memoir on her experience, Miller told HuffPost that she plans on having the lap band removed over the summer, which will allow her to “reclaim” her body.
Miller is no longer waiting to love herself, and she closed her Facebook post by telling others that they, too, can recognize their worth right now.
“The secret is, I was always enough,” she wrote. “And you are too:)”