"I wanted you to know that I wear a size six, and I'm in an industry that that's not always super accepted. But that's OK."
Model and Maybelline megababe Emily DiDonato is ready to share her journey to body acceptance — but warning — it wasn't an easy one.
"I posted a video on my YouTube channel talking about my road to self love and body confidence," Emily captioned a photo of herself on Instagram. "It took me a long time to feel comfortable in my body. I’ve fluctuated over the years from a double zero to a size 10 and I remember being so embarrassed and ashamed of that.
"I wish I was kinder to myself because I am only human but I thought models were meant to be a 00 and stay a 00," she continued. "I was always hesitant to talk about body positivity or body diversity because I am aware being a size 6 or 8 is nothing ground breaking but in the modeling industry, my size hasn’t always been represented, celebrated or accepted. For me, feeling comfortable in my skin has taken a lot of work and effort and I wanted to share that with you guys."
In the 15-minute video above, Emily gets super candid about some "very unhealthy" moments in her life, when she "went to extreme measures to look a certain way." The former SI Swimsuit model admits that after a lot of rejection early in her career, she was willing to do "whatever it takes" to start booking jobs. That included eating as little as possible and working out as often as possible, which ultimately led to a thinner frame but fragile mental state.
"I was lonely. I was homesick. I missed my friends," she recalls in the video. "I didn't know what I was doing in this big city. I didn't know anyone.
"I didn't even know how to make new friends because, like, making friends as an adult is actually very hard," she said. "I was going to castings, and I still wasn't getting great feedback."
Emily remembers feeling embarassed when she eventually gained the weight back, because she felt like she was failing the agencies and people who believed in her. After landing a spot in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, Emily, who hated her first year of photos, was shocked to find she started working more than ever. The New York-based model is now "at peace" with her body and determined never to let a brand or individual opinion ruin her self-confidence again.
Be sure to watch the video above to hear more about Emily's story and how she found a way to believe that YOU ARE ENOUGH.
See all of Emily's gorgeous photos from SI Swimsuit 2016: