"I just stopped torturing myself every day"

With her 656,000 followers on Instagram, Megan Jayne Crabbe - or bodyposipanda as her account is named - is an icon for women across the world.

In a world where our newsfeeds are dominated by ‘fitspo’ and pictures of slim young women, the 24-year-old from Essex provides refreshing relief - Crabbe has been such a hit on social media simply for posting images that show her looking happy and beautiful, with a body that’s much more relatable to most women.

And one of her latest posts has been particularly well received.

As a recovering anorexic, Crabbe frequently posts ‘before and after’ pictures, but unlike most, hers show her both larger and happier in the after one.

And although praise is heaped upon Crabbe for challenging social norms, she inevitably receives a lot of negative feedback too.

But she’s now responded to her haters.

In the caption of a ‘before and after’ shot, Crabbe said:

"‘Wait so you just decided to RUIN your body?’ 

Nah, I just stopped torturing myself every day for not fitting an image I was never supposed to be.

‘But you look so much healthier to me before.’ 

That's funny, you looked so much more intelligent to me before you equated health with weight and forgot that mental health is health too.

‘You could have stayed the same and loved your body, you didn't need to get fat.’

I could have stayed the same and spiralled back into the eating disorder that almost killed me when I was 15. I could have kept starving myself and obsessively working out for hours everyday but it never would have lead me to self love. No matter how much weight I lost there was always still something to hate. And sure, people don't NEED to gain weight to find their self love, this is just what my body needed to do to match up to my mental freedom. THIS IS MY HAPPY BODY.

‘But surely you can't be happy looking like that now, I could never be happy in that body.’

I didn't think I could either, but as it turns out, happiness isn't a size. And I wasted far too many years believing that it was. Now I'm not going to stop letting people know that they deserve happiness exactly as they are. They deserve to live now, not 10 pounds from now. They deserve that mental freedom. So to every person reading this: I hope you get your freedom too, however it might look. I'll be cheering you on every step of the way. 

P.s. these are all comments I received on my last before/after picture, luckily for me, they just make me want to keep going even more”

The post has now been liked nearly 120,000 times and has over 6,600 comments.

“You are such an inspiration and braver than most of the people here! I admire you very much and everytime I feel shitty I visit your site and feel better. Please stay how you are, you are a very important person!” said one.

“Truuth!!! Keep going and being happy. So important, thank you for sharing this,” added another.

Many people are inspired by Crabbe’s message that how we feel is so much more important than how we look (or our dress size).

“YOU GO GIRL!!!! You are beautiful, really I mean it. I totally support your viewpoint and I think every woman out there should hear this message!”

And although she will inevitably continue to receive negative comments, Crabbe simply ignores them.

“There have been hundreds of hateful comments ranging from people telling me to go die to the classic health concern trolling that most body-positive accounts get. It casts their whole belief system of ‘thin equal always happy and thin equals always healthy’ into question, which I think is why they react so strongly,” Crabbe told Buzzfeed.

“All those comments just prove how much work there is to do in combating fatphobia, healthism, and just plain teaching people that other people’s bodies aren’t theirs to dictate.”

Crabbe was first diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at the age of 14 and was in and out of hospital for years. She later developed a binge-eating disorder, and her weight increased: “After nearly tripling my weight in a year I was left in a body I hated more than ever, that's when the dieting started again,” Crabbe told The Independent

“I cycled through starvation diets and binge eating episodes for years.”  

But her recovery began when she discovered body positivity - or ‘bopo’ as it is known: “Body positivity is the only thing that ever allowed me to heal my relationship with food, learn how to eat intuitively and stop torturing myself for how my body looks,” she said.

Crabbe started her Instagram account two years ago and now posts pictures of her looking happy, beautiful and glowing with confidence, inspiring her thousands of followers.

Her advice for anyone suffering with body image is to surround yourself with people who encourage self-love. “Curate your social media feed and fill it with other bopo babes instead of things that make you feel like you're not good enough,” she says. 

“Unlearning those lessons is hard, but it's so worth it.”

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