Emily Bador doesn’t feel the need to portray a “perfect” image on social media.
The London-based model, 20, has shared photos on Instagram that proudly show her stomach rolls, eczema scars and underarm hair to make a statement about the societal pressures put on women to look a certain way.
“I just hope we can normalize normal things,” Bador tells PEOPLE. “Social media puts so much pressure on people, and people hide their imperfections which in turn makes these subjects almost taboo. Opening up discussion about illness, mental health, stuff your body does, etc. is key in getting people to be unashamed of themselves. The amount of amazing people who have messaged me saying my posts have helped them open up, get help or even wear that particular item of clothing is astounding.”
You don't owe it to anyone to be perfect. You are not less worthy because you don't have a flat stomach. You are not less valid because you don't shave your armpits. You are not less beautiful because of your scars, stretch marks, eczema, acne. I'm just so sick and tired of the objectification of women's bodies and how it's seemingly ok to dictate a woman's worth based on what she looks like. If you give a shit that I or anyone else has stomach rolls, scars, eczema, armpit hair, etc then I have less than no time for you ✨ bored of hatred tbh ☺️ (this also obviously applies to men, and those who don't conform to gender binary stereotypes too, inclusivity and intersectionality is key 🙌🏼) (yo feeling v body positive atm, and like I know it might seem easy for me to say as a white passing, averaged sized, model so yaknow but if you've followed me for a while you'll know that I really struggle with my appearance and like I dunno it's just a start of normalising things??? also any hatred will result in instant block looool)
A post shared by e m i l y bador (@darth_bador) on Feb 8, 2017 at 1:48pm PST
While Bador encourages her followers to be confident in themselves, perceived flaws and all, she admits that she doesn’t always feel completely body-confident. In another Instagram post that shows her sitting down for a modeling shot, she admits that she almost didn’t post the photo because she thought her thighs looked too big.
Ten minutes ago, I wasn't gonna post this. Ten minutes ago, I look at this and thought "my thighs look fat in this". Ten minutes ago, I almost didn't even check the comments section for fear of some internet troll ridiculing my my body. ✨ Cos it's hard learning to love yourself, it's fucking hard. And I still slip up, like, a lot. ✨ And we live in a world where it's almost impossible to escape the ridiculous traditional beauty standards the fashion industry think are 'correct'. Whether you're in it directly or not, it's hard not to be affected. But you've gotta stay strong. You've gotta remember you're perfect as you are. It's never worth forcing yourself to be something you're not. It's not worth making yourself sick just to look like the girls in the adverts (even if you're meant to be 'one of the girls in the adverts'). ✨ I did check the comments by the way. And it was worth it. "I love that you're using a regular model, someone who I can personally relate to. 😍 love the outfit too" (thank you @danidoce). Some times, I slip up, and I ridicule myself and my journey to self love isn't always perfect. But this one comment was a huge reminder that actually, there's nothing wrong with me, my thighs aren't fat, and I am as valid and as worthy as any other girl on New Looks instagram, as valid and as worthy as anyone. And I'm posting this photo as a reminder of that. It's not me who needs to change, it's the industry. And I hope you all remember that too✨❤️
A post shared by e m i l y bador (@darth_bador) on Jan 16, 2017 at 5:03am PST
But she works on building her confidence. “The fake-it-til-you-make-it mentality really works,” she says. “If you say tell yourself something so often, you do start to believe it. Telling yourself daily you are worthy, valid, strong and resilient really does make a difference. Also, take risks. If you think a your belly looks chubby in a photo you’ve taken, post it. If you think your legs look fat, post it. You’ll be surprised how no one else will notice.”
Bador says her journey to love her body is made even more challenging because she works in an industry in which her body is constantly under scrutiny.
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“It is super hard,” she admits. “You’re constantly comparing yourself to other girls. It’s hard when you go to a casting, don’t get the job and a month later see the campaign. Like, how come she got the job and I didn’t? Is she prettier? Thinner? You just take it as it comes.”
As a half-English, half-Malaysian model who is not a size 0, Bador hopes she can be a part of the movement to diversify the modeling industry.
i'm gonna be honest, the industry needs to change. man oh man i'm tired of it. on the left is july 2015, my lowest weight. i can't tell you how much i weighed but i can tell you i was size 4/6 and my waist only measured 23 inches. i can also tell you i thought i was fat. i've always had a few body image issues but since becoming a model, they've skyrocketed. at work, i've always felt like i didn't belong, i've always been short, and mixed race. i'd been modelling for just over a year, and going to castings made me feel super insecure. every time i didn't get a call back from my casting i'd start to wonder why. was i too fat? during 2015, i became obsessive with my measurements and clothes sizes. i exercised daily and i would never even look at any carbs let alone eat them. it started making me physically sick, dizzy, exhausted, etc. i ended up getting to a point where i'd have daily panic attacks about getting dressed, and couldn't even leave my bed in fear of catching my reflection in the mirror. at this time, i also started getting the most work i've ever had and travelling all over world. which, instilled in me "the thinner i am, the more work i'm gonna get". my hatred for myself became so overwhelming i knew something had to change, i took some time out and finally got working on loving myself. and today, for the first time in a long time, i felt good about myself this morning. i struggle with getting dressed sometimes, catching my reflection can occasionally hurt still and i have panic attacks now and again but i am getting there. sometimes i forget that self love is a journey. we have to call on this system to change. we need diversity. all bodies, differently abled, shaped, coloured, sized, gendered and aged. diversity is so important. representation is so important. i'm sick and tired of seeing amazing, talented, beautiful women hate themselves because they don't look like that VS model or whatever. too many young women suffer from mental health issues which stem from the pressure of today's media. ✨you are more than your appearance, you are strong and resilient and you are beautiful no matter what and i really hope you remember that✨
A post shared by e m i l y bador (@darth_bador) on Dec 10, 2016 at 11:53am PST
“Maybe if I had seen other mixed race women on the TV, advertising or in magazines, I wouldn’t have been so confused about what was different about me, or I wouldn’t have been ashamed of not being the same as everyone else,” she says. “Diversity and representation is so important because it makes you feel normal. It shows you that you’re beautiful too, and you don’t have to strive to be something you’re not.”
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