A woman who used to starve herself because of hurtful comments from bullies about her weight is now being shunned by the plus-sized community for being ‘too small’ to talk about body positivity.
Dairy farm calf-rearer, Kayleigh Jones, 20, from Stratford Upon Avon, saw her weight drop from 15st 7lb, to just 7st 8lb in just 18 months.
The severe weight loss as a result of starving herself for up to four days at a time caused Kayleigh to develop stretch marks on her upper thighs and later her stomach and arms.
In recent years, she’s learned to embrace her body as it is and has posted snaps of her stretch marks on Instagram to highlight how important it is not to be fuelled by other people’s opinions.
Kayleigh has however faced some negative reaction from people who told her she is ‘too small’ to comment on body positivity as a UK size 12.
‘A lot of people assume that just because I’m smaller than them I haven’t had the same experiences they have in society with weight problems and therefore I shouldn’t get to talk about them,’ she explained.
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Kayleigh Jones, 20, who is currently living in Waikato, New Zealand, was told that she is too small to talk about body positivity as a size 12 despite having seen her size fluctuate and being left with stretch marks from rapid weight loss
The 20-year-old’s weight changed drastically as she struggled through years of being bullied for her size. Above, Kayleigh at her smallest size, weighing just 7st 8lbs
Kayleigh has rid herself of the bullies who taunted her throughout school, resulting in her weight constantly fluctuating. She is now embracing her curvy figure and stretch marks
Kayleigh, a UK size 12, has faced many ups and downs with her weight and for her it is important to show that plus-size doesn’t mean just one specified size, and body positivity isn’t just permitted from people of one size.
‘Growing up I always hated my body and I criticised myself constantly for not being ‘perfect’, so I always tried to find ways to change,’ explained Kayleigh, who is currently living in Waikato, New Zealand.
‘I suffered many different eating disorders and body dysmorphia at a young age, starting at just 11 years old, because I felt so strongly that I needed to lose weight in order to fit into society.
‘I would usually go three to four days without eating meals and I’d suppress my hunger with large amounts of caffeine and only eating small bits now and then, like bread or salad.’
Kayleigh’s family moved to New Zealand when she was eight to better their lives and start afresh. But throughout her entire schooling, she suffered non-stop bullying and criticism from her peers.
Kayleigh’s family moved to New Zealand when she was eight, but throughout her entire schooling, she suffered non-stop bullying and criticism from her peers. Above, she is pictured with her dad
Above, Kayleigh is pictured at her heaviest when she weighed 15st 7lbs. Now, she is a UK size 12 and is keen to show that plus-sized doesn’t mean one specified size
‘I got bullied so bad that I skipped most of what we call ‘intermediate’, which is the start of secondary school education in the UK, due to depression and anxiety,’ said Kayleigh.
‘This made it harder for me in school because I found it hard to make friends. As the years progressed, luckily, I became more accepted by people and found it easier to block out the hate that I received.
Due to her severe weight loss through starvation, Kayleigh developed her first stretch marks on her inner thighs when she was about 12 years old.
‘It wasn’t until I turned 20 that I got them on my stomach and my arms, also from eating disorder-related problems,’ said the dairy farm calf-rearer.
‘Most people assume that you only get stretch marks through weight gain or child bearing, but that isn’t the case. You can get them through rapid weight gain or weight loss like I did.’
Due to her severe weight loss through starvation, Kayleigh developed her first stretch marks on her inner thighs when she was about 12 years old. Now, she views her stretch marks as something to show the journey she has had
Kayleigh believes that body positivity doesn’t come from whatever size you may be, but more about the experiences you’ve had
Kayleigh spent years hiding her stretch marks, but she is now flaunting and embracing them
She added: ‘I always hated my stretch marks and I used to hide them as much as I possibly could.
‘I would try anything to get rid of them, but nothing ever worked.
‘But now I embrace them because they show my journey through so many troubling years of no self-worth and they help other people to embrace theirs.’
After years of struggling with her weight, Kayleigh admits that it is her experiences with an eating disorder and learning to love her natural body that has taught her body positivity.
Now, Kayleigh uses her Instagram account to show that an individual’s size and weight shouldn’t be a factor which determines whether they can join the discussion about body positivity or not.
‘I have weighed over 15 stone and less than eight stone in the past. Now, I love my body. I feel as though I’m a totally different person knowing that the constant struggle of self-acceptance is over.’
Above, Kayleigh shows her stretch marks which are a result of her rapid weight loss after starving herself. She counts Ashley Graham and Ariella Nyssa as her biggest influences
Kayleigh first heard about body positivity when she saw social media influencers like Ashley Graham and Ariella Nyssa – who are her biggest influences.
‘When I first saw women promoting curves, it felt strange because my life had always been based around dieting and weight loss, much like most people today.
‘It was troubling to me that people with bodies like mine could be happy and confident, knowing that so many would judge them and wouldn’t approve.’
She continued: ‘I never used to be able to shop for clothes or go to the beach because I would have constant anxiety and fear over being judged.
‘My body has affected relationships before because I was too self-conscious to put my all into someone. When you’re doubting yourself and telling yourself you aren’t good enough, it affects the people around you because you start to doubt them.’
After struggling with her weight for many years, Kayleigh is now embracing her figure and speaks about body positivity on her Instragram
Sharing her posts on social media has helped Kayleigh embrace herself by opening up about everything. By telling people about her struggles, she takes great comfort in knowing she is helping so many out there
‘As soon as I started facing my problems head on and became confident in myself, my relationships with people blossomed because I was happier and healthier, and I didn’t let my body stop me from doing the things that I wanted.
‘Making my posts on Instagram helped me embrace myself by opening up about everything. Telling people my struggles and knowing that in return I’m helping so many more out there is the best I can ask for.
‘It’s refreshing to be accepted by people because I never have been before. Knowing that so many people feel the exact same way I did pushed me to better myself and my life.
Since overcoming her battle, Kayleigh said: ‘You can learn to love yourself, it just takes time. Anybody can love someone else, but it takes true strength to find the love in yourself’
And for those who feel stuck in their own bodies or feel as though there’s no hope for a better life, Kayleigh insists there is.
‘I was stuck in a hole for so many years with mental health and body dysmorphia, but I finally pushed through,’ she said.
‘You can learn to love yourself, it just takes time. Anybody can love someone else, but it takes true strength to find the love in yourself.’
To see more of her motivational posts, visit Kayleigh’s Instagram @britishdreamgurl.