This year, we made history with three separate SI Swimsuit covers, showcasing the fact that beauty comes in many, many forms, all of which are equally admirable and sexy. 

So it should come as no surprise that another one of our gorgeous models would use her platform to inspire and encourage women around the world to embrace the bodies they were born with. Two-time SI Swimsuit model Erin Heatherton took to Instagram in early March to reveal her struggles with body image and how she was able to grow into the confident, beautiful woman she is today despite feeling like a failure early on in her career. 

Now, Erin is going one step farther and explaining exactly why she walked away from one of the most famous runways in the industry.  

 

The breakdown to breakthrough moment in my life has allowed me to become the truest version of myself. In my moment of “failure,” I stood in the face of adversity. I was struggling with my body image and the pressures to fulfill the demands of perfectionism upon me. I am not perfect. Through this struggle, however, I found the strength to love myself. I stood in my power. I thought of one of my favorite quotes, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a men’s character, give him power” - Abraham Lincoln. I look back on that moment now, and I embrace it. This feeling I once perceived as “failure” was, in truth, a powerful awakening for me to stand behind my purpose in life. I stepped away from hiding behind a fabricated version of myself. I no longer put actions behind my fears and insecurities. I made a choice to redirect my energy to be a catalyst for change. To create a channel for women to become the truest versions of themselves, along with me. (Stay tuned for more...) In the end, if you aren’t being true to yourself, then what the fuck is the point. #rebelwacause #empowerment #womensempowerment#empoweredbyyou

A photo posted by Erin Heatherton (@erinheathertonlegit) on

In a new interview for Motto, a website from the editors of TIME, Erin explains that leading up to her final two Victoria's Secret shows, she was told she needed to lose weight. She goes on to reveal that she attempted to eat healthy and exercised twice a day, but it never seemed to be enough. 

“I was really depressed because I was working so hard and I felt like my body was resisting me,” she told Motto. “And I got to a point where one night I got home from a workout and I remember staring at my food and thinking maybe I should just not eat.”

Since parting with the major lingerie retailer, Erin has taken the time to learn to listen to her body and is hoping that by sharing her story, she can empower others around the world who may also be struggling with the same issues. 

BONUS: See some of Erin's best moments from SI Swimsuit 2015 & 2016!