There is an idea that we need to work out and be flawless in order to wear swimwear and enjoy ourselves in the summer. Our goal is not only to sell sustainable swimwear but also to encourage women to adopt more positive and healthy attitudes towards their bodies because we believe that all people should feel empowered and confident in their own skin.
Luckily, there are more and more women who are trying to inspire and help the female community.
Recently, we had the chance to interview the ‘Body Positivity‘ icon, Veronica Leea, online fitness coach and athlete. We chatted with her about body positivity, social media, self-love and how she sees herself as a role model for young women and maintains a healthy attitude towards her body. She also gives us exciting insights into her long journey to accept herself after years of struggling. Her words of wisdom will totally inspire and empower you, so let‘s dive into it!
Putting yourself out there on the internet is not easy especially if you are so transparent and real. That‘s why we love the way you use your social media platform to empower women and make them feel good about their appearance. What made you decide to start helping women to build confidence about their bodies and goals?
Veronica: When I first started my fitness account in 2016 my content was very different. I posted edited pictures, tried to look as skinny as possible and I was extremely self conscious about my body.
In 2017 I decided I didn’t want to feel miserable anymore. That is when I started my own self love journey and also the moment I started helping other females by sharing it. I began to showcase raw images of me naturally and my body, which didn’t look like other girls on social media at that time. I wanted to spread the message that gaining weight isn’t bad at all, and in fact it made me the most confident version of myself. Realising that self love and confidence doesn’t come from achieving a certain body, but changing my mindset around the way I thought about myself. At that time there were not many girls on social media promoting body positivity and that was the time my account started growing. By sharing my own self love journey I managed to help other females and I’m so grateful for that.
Do you mind sharing your story with us? Starting with where you were and how you got to where you are today?
Veronica: Throughout my life I have faced many challenges both mentally and physically. My interest for fitness and health started as a young child, when I was obese and I had to lose weight for health reasons. As I didn’t know much about it, I did it in an unsustainable way, which ended up developing an eating disorder and body dysmorphia. I spent hours working out daily, restricting foods, cutting out entire food groups and thinking I needed to lose more weight to be beautiful.
After years of being miserable of the way I looked and being extremely self conscious, I decided it was time to change. I knew that the biggest change wasn’t physical – but mental! I started the journey to love myself and it was the best thing I ever did! I found a passion for weightlifting, achieved a healthy relationship with food and found confidence within myself. That is why I want to help other women, who are possibly facing similar challenges as myself, to overcome those struggles and start living their best life!
Do you think because of the media there is a specific definition of ‘perfection’ that most people want to achieve?
Veronica: I believe many women and especially young females are influenced by social media. Every decade there is a different trend. When I was growing up what was idealised as the “perfect body” was being as skinny and thin as possible. Nowadays I feel like the “perfection” women are trying to achieve is a curvy female body, with lip fillers, fake boobs and what we see on celebrities on television. I have nothing against it, but it makes me sad that young women feel like they need to change their appearance because some celebrities are showcasing them as examples.
How do you see the body-positive movement growing on social media these years?
Veronica: When I started using social media as a teenager all I saw was skinny models and fitness models. In the past few years I have noticed that the body positive movement has grown a lot. It makes me incredibly happy that you can see nowadays more real female bodies on social media and not just edited, posed and certain size bodies. There is still room for improvement but it has come a long way already.
Why do you think people have such a hard time accepting themselves, especially their appearances?
Veronica: I believe it’s because of social media and the impact it has on us. Seeing mostly pictures that are taken in flattering angles makes us think that something looks normal, when in reality usually its photoshopped. Unfortunately social media still showcases mostly bodies that models have which are unrealistic to achieve.
What would you change in social media to have a better effect on people?
Veronica: If I could change something it would be banning photoshopped pictures and using filters. I don’t mean by changing lighting, contrast, colors, etc. What I mean is taking off face filters that create more insecurities for females and not allowing photoshopping people's bodies, for example by changing the size of someone's waist.
If you could change the way women are portrayed in the media, how would you?
Veronica: I would like to see more real female bodies on social media and not just models. It would be amazing if all different ethnicities and body shapes would be represented in social media equally. More women could relate to them and feel less insecure about themselves when they would see someone like themselves portrayed in the media.
Have you ever had a time when you felt insecure due to portrayals of body image in the media? What has been your journey towards loving yourself more?
Veronica: My insecurity began when I started reading magazines on social media and by watching television. I was very influenced by social media growing up and seeing all kinds of unhealthy diets being promoted. In fact, I tried several of them which were very extremely unhealthy and ended up having body dysmorphia. Even though I had lost 20kg I still thought that I was too big and nothing was enough for me. I was never satisfied with the way I looked. I was never enough for myself. It made me anxious if I didn’t fit into the smallest size in the clothing shop.
I would say from years 13-21 I was extremely insecure about myself. I couldn’t wear tops, colourful clothes, dresses, etc. All I wore was black and tried to cover myself up. After 2017 when my self love journey began, I have started to use colourful clothes, dresses, tops, skirts - which I thought I would never use.
What is your advice for women who are looking to increase their self-confidence?
Veronica: My advice is to start by looking at yourself in the mirror and complimenting yourself. It can feel difficult in the beginning, but I promise it will get easier. So start by talking to yourself and about your body in a positive way. Start saying positive affirmations out loud and as often as you can. This will slowly change your thoughts, and you will slowly begin to realize how beautiful you are and believe it. Self confidence doesn’t magically appear overnight. You have to practice it daily and be patient with yourself, but it will be all worth it in the end.
What are your goals for your followers, yourself, and the body positive movement at large?
Veronica: My goal is to help as many women as I can to find the self confidence and self love that is within them. As a Personal Trainer and Online Coach I want to showcase to women that you don’t have to look a certain way to be able to live a healthy lifestyle, feel good within yourself and love your body.
I believe that the body positive movement has grown a lot since I started using social media, and it makes me incredibly happy. I believe it’s going in the right direction. There are lots of amazing accounts that promote body positivity at the moment.
Follow Veronica on Instagram! @veronicaleea