Erin Heatherton might be a model, but that doesn’t mean she’s immune to feeling bad about herself—particularly when, a few years into her modeling career, Heatherton says she started facing pressure from others to drop pounds.
“My last two Victoria’s Secret shows, I was told I had to lose weight,” she says. “I look back like, ‘Really?'” (Victoria’s Secret didn’t respond to our requests for comment on this.)
Heatherton says she initially worked hard trying to please the people she was working for by eating healthy and exercising twice a day. But while preparing for her last Victoria’s Secret show in 2013, her body “just wouldn’t do it,” she says.
“I was really depressed because I was working so hard and I felt like my body was resisting me,” she says. “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.”
Shortly after that show, Heatherton parted ways with Victoria’s Secret. She says she went through a lot of self-questioning, wondering what was next for her. She also took that time to really focus on listening to her body.
“I realized I couldn’t go out into the world—parading my body and myself in front of all these women who look up to me—and tell them that this is easy and simple and everyone can do this.”
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This idea stayed very much rooted in Heatherton’s mind, and she was inspired to post about it on Instagram, writing that she was stepping away from “hiding behind a fabricated version of” herself:
Heatherton says that, by continuing to share her experience, she hopes she can encourage other women to work toward their own breakthroughs.
“I’m willing to sacrifice my pride, in a sense, and my privacy because I know that if I don’t speak about it, I could be withholding information that would really help women,” she says. “It hurts too much to keep it in, and that’s why I’m not keeping it in now.”