Despite body positive warriors like curvy model Ashley Graham taking the fashion world by storm, many others in the industry still face the pressures of maintaining thin frames.
For some, the pressure is so heavy that dropping or gaining a single inch off their waist could mean the difference between losing or booking a gig.
And that's exactly why one woman, Liza Golden-Bhojwani, decided to quit the modelling industry, and learned to embrace her curves.
Sharing a side-by-side shot of her when she says she was at the peak of her career, when she says she only ate 500 calories a day, to now on Instagram in early March, Golden-Bhojwani detailed her journey to self-acceptance.
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...
"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," she recalls. "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."
She then said that she began overeating and craving the foods she once forced herself to not eat. The former runway star also admits that while she was able to make it through New York Fashion Week without anyone noticing her weight gain, once London Fashion Week came around a week later, she started to notice her frame wasn't as slender.
"As it turns out I ended up being a 36.5 [inch] hip by the time castings started and I was pulled out of shows, because at that measurement you will just simply not book any shows," she writes. "People wondered what the hell happened, where did she go?"
"Why am I fighting against my body? Why don't I just go in the same direction?"
"I had seriously just given up on my short lived [high fashion] career, because I just simply could not hack it," she adds.
But while at one point she had given up, the former Dolce & Gabbana star tried to reemerge into the fashion world in 2014. This time around, she maintained a healthy diet and worked hard at the gym to keep her figure. However, she still wasn't able to book work, which she says made her feel like she no longer belonged in the industry.
A few years later, after doing "a little soul searching" during a trip to India, Golden-Bhojwani says she met the man of her dreams, learned to embrace her body and left her New York City life behind.
This day one year ago, I legally married my very own Prince Charming. Every wife thinks their husband is the best, as we are all completely biased, but I have to say my @thirdeyejedi is something special; unlike the others, and unlike anyone I've ever encountered. Literally the most self-less human being who is ready to drop anything and everything to put me first. He works so hard day in and day out, travels to random and far away factory's in remote areas just to support our little family and still supports my dreams while he struggles no matter what....He has been dressing me, showering me, brushing my hair and styling it, cooking for me, amongst countless other things for almost two weeks due to my broken wrist... I have never been treated well by men in my life, maybe it was bad luck, maybe it was the negative space I was stuck in for years upon years, maybe it was me giving in to all the negativity that was spoken over me in the past, but then I met you and my life lit up, it had meaning and a purpose worth living for. A reason to smile, a reason to laugh, and a reason to BE happy. Your CONSTANT positive energy is like having the sunshine next to me all day long. It's hard to keep up with such positivity when you have the completely opposite personality, but that's why we were made for each other. We are the perfect balance when mixed together. You literally are my best friend. I always seek your advice not because I need your approval as a husband, but because as my best friend I know your judgement is literally on point. I don't know how this year has flown by so quickly, but as they say, "time flies when you're having fun". Cheers to another year of us, cheers to another year of happiness, cheers to another year of fun as the #goldenjedi keep taking over one day at a time. I love you! ❤❤ #goldenjediforever #goldenjedi #goldenbhojwani #goldenjediadventures
"2016 was the first time in three years where I finally picked myself up and said you know what F this shit I am going to get back to work no matter what," she shared. "I was struggling to lose weight again, and one day I just thought... why am I fighting against my body? Why don't I just go in the same direction? Stop forcing my own agenda and just listen to my body. And that's what I did, slowly slowly I was coming into my true body form. My natural self, not my forced self."
The now India-based beauty appears to be living her best life these days, and is even signed to few agencies, like IMG and Milk Models U.K., according to her Instagram bio, that embraces her curvy figure.
While stories like these are undoubtedly heartbreaking, they still have the power to inspire women who struggle with their body weight, and push for more representation.
"The days of needing to be a size 2 to be considered beautiful are over. We are all perfectly imperfect and accepting that is the way forward."
In Canada, plus-size blogger Inemesit Etokudo, who is based in Alberta, started her platform to cater to the underserved women in her community.
"I did a little research and realized that plus-size blogging is a pretty big deal in the States, but in Canada, there were only a handful," Etokudo told The Huffington Post Canada in early 2016. "So, being out here in Calgary, plus-size fashion is not even a thing that’s really discussed. So I started the blog because I think it’s a market in Calgary that’s been untouched and I want to bring awareness to the city."
As for Golden-Bhojwani, while her journey certainly wasn't easy, she believes that it definitely wasn't in vain.
"In a strange twist of fate, I am getting a better response now than I did earlier," she said in an article in Vogue India earlier this year. "I feel sexy, I feel strong. My body is just coming to its natural form. The industry is changing, too — the days of needing to be a size 2 to be considered beautiful are over. We are all perfectly imperfect and accepting that is the way forward."
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