“Crazy good article. Intelligent and well written.”

“Reading your article really helped me! It brought me to realize that it may be easier than I thought to really love my body. I don’t have to constantly compare my body to others while trying really hard to see what other people see in the mirror. I love finding new recipes and making healthy concoctions. That is why I always love your food posts on Instagram! So I just wanted to share my thoughts with you and open up with something that I don’t normally talk about. So thank you for being a Role Model and not a Runway Model. Being a role model really brings out your true beauty than any other Chanel runway show could have.”

“Awesome article! Alexa Curtis, you are a true role model. Thanks for sharing your talent & experience. Keep it up!”

“Anyone who has a daughter – or who has struggled with body image pressures – PLEASE READ this guest post from Alexa Curtis!!”

Above are a small portion of the responses I’ve received since my last article came out. I can’t begin to thank you enough. It’s incredible that something that once haunted me became such a positive message for me and for other struggling girls. Reading every single comment on the piece brings proud tears to my eyes. When I began my blog, I never intended to call it my career–I’d only hoped to reach out to a few girls across the country who felt as insecure and sheltered as I did. Body image wasn’t a topic I intended to speak out about, until my personal experiences gave me a reason to put them in the public eye. Poor body image is an issue that every girl, whether they are in the fashion industry or not, will most likely face at some point in their lifetime.The fact that my blogging has become a full-time job is a blessing, and, for a girl who never had a strong support group, the positive response to my story is eye-opening.

Writing a story as intimate as that one took me months to publish. I brought it to a writing class I took with a bunch of kids my age a few weeks ago, and they, along with my mom, pushed me to publish it. Even my closest friends didn’t know much about that part of my life. There’s a huge weight off of my shoulders now that the topic is out in the open, yet everyday I continue to  struggle with body image issues. Loving yourself is a journey that doesn’t happen overnight– it takes time. Even though I wrote that, “I woke up one day and decided to love myself,” that doesn’t mean I wake up everyday, look in the mirror and feel completely satisfied. One day I know I will be there, but my twisted body image continues to taunt me, to the point where some days I don’t even feel like getting out of my bed.

“ I love this! Its really great to read this from someone who has experienced an eating disorder firsthand.”

“Wow, it was a very inspirational and raw piece.”

After publishing that article, my readers, you guys, were amazing. You gave me hope, you gave me reassurance you have felt the same way, and you gave me comfort that I’m not alone in this journey. I was unaware of how many young, intelligent and successful girls face such debilitating body image issues. Even some of the seemingly confident girls that I looked up to in high school spoke out about this article, which proves that nobody is immune to the body image plague. I wish more people would speak out about this topic, but I hope my article has opened up a discussion about the path to replacing “skinny” with “healthy.”

Even after the article went live, some people (whom I consider my mentors and supporters) put me down. I never would have assumed that the people closest to me would be the people to tear me down at my  weakest. I finally reached a point where I’m strong enough to look in a mirror and not feel worthless because of what my body looks like, and yet people continue to tell me I shouldn’t be happy with myself.

After putting the brakes on my professional modeling career and finding a happy balance with food, I have gained weight. I got hips, boobs, and a butt-in-progress, which means, for the first time in my life,  I actually have curves. In high school, the word “curvy” freaked me out. If someone made a comment about curves or that I had curves (even a positive comment) I was petrified that meant I was fat. Whether you’re born with curves or born with a slim frame, all body types are unique and stunning.

One of my extremely intelligent and beautiful high school friends, who lives a few hours away from me, and was also previously in the industry, used to tell me the comments her mother would make to her about her body. There were times when she got so thin for work reasons, and, the minute she got off of her strict diet, would gain a few normal pounds. Her mom gave her hell, and would make extremely negative and heartbreaking comments to her, which would have easily  torn any young girl apart. Her and I have had several conversations about the topic of mothers and body image, and she never let what her mother said affect her, because she has always been positive about her body. Even though she continues to be told she will never be good enough on the outside for what her mother expects from her, this strong girl is learning that her own opinion matters more than her parents’. .

I also shared some of the strong comments that came out of the article with my mother, expecting her to be proud and happy about  the work I’m doing. Upon coming back to Connecticut after my summer in NYC, she sat me down and told me that I need help, that she can see I have an issue with overeating. She blamed it on my high level of stress lately and on the fact that I am no longer in traditional school and spend my days in my house.

“You need help.” Her  words stung. Not again. This couldn’t be happening again. I felt like I was being transported back to my struggles with my agent, and our previous conversations. Those were conversations I never anticipated hearing again, even if the words weren’t the exact same, the topic was just as difficult to discuss.

She told that me we need to see a nutritionist, and that I need to cut out cookies, chocolate, cake and carbs, basically any food that, to me, makes life worth living . I didn’t know what to do but cry.  I looked at her in the eye and said “how could you say this to me?”

How could someone who  is supposed to love me and support me tell me I have an issue with eating, when less than a year ago I had an issue with not eating? During such a fragile time after publishing that article, one would think she would be a little more sensitive towards this topic. During my 2 years of disordered eating, my parents (especially my mother) didn’t accept I had an issue. My friends, my sister, myself, even my therapist could all tell there was something wrong, yet the only response I ever got from her was “you’re fine, shut up and eat something.”

A part of this journey is learning that you can’t please everyone. I workout, I lift weights at my gym and run on the treadmill. I eat chicken and I also eat cookies and chocolate, and a green juice here and there. I feel fantastic and strong. I can go on a date and not question the waiter with the ingredients in my meal, or make my friends mac&cheese and actually eat it. I’m no longer the 115 pound girl that was dying for someone to get me help, but now I’m being told that I need to be closer to that size, regardless of my happiness.

When will this widespread unhealthy body image disappear? When will society praise young girls for their talents and grades instead of their cup size or color of their hair? Rather than praising me for the work I’m doing, my own mother opted to tell me I’m overweight. I had other mothers reach out to me to tell me  how they found the article helpful  regarding their own daughters, yet my own mom tells me I’m unhealthy. At first, I let her words get to me. I believed what she said, and went on a diet for a week. Finding myself falling into my old self-destructive patterns, I knew I needed to change something… and it wasn’t my body.  There was no way I could openly speak about this topic if a few people telling me I’m “fat” was enough for me to go on an unhealthy diet and change myself and my happiness for someone else.

I was letting other people determine my happiness until I realized I’m proud of  myself. I’m content.  A boy won’t love you more or less because of your pant size, and your friends couldn’t care less about what you look like. I’m trying to take a small step towards changing society by giving girls the strength to  love themselves, though I’m seeing that it will take more time than expected. 10-year-olds and 60-year-olds alike  face scrutiny and issues with their body, and knowing this gives  me even more inspiration to change the warped way we judge body sizes. Permanent change won’t come quickly, but I have all the time in the world.