Mother-of-two Allison Kimmey has made her mark on Instagram with a twist on the classic “before and after” photos. Although most transformation accounts feature women who have lost weight, Kimmey is showing her journey to self-love and body positivity. She spoke exclusively to Life & Style about her increased following on social media and how she wants to inspire others with her message.
“I had been on Instagram for a couple months and felt that oh so familiar tug of comparison,” she said. “Every other photo I looked at was a before and after of a miserable overweight person transforming into a happy, thin person. I took some time to reflect on my own journey and realized that it looked quite different and that maybe being thin wasn’t really the answer to being truly happy.”
Kimmey has gone through many body changes, posting pics of herself as a size 2 and others as a size 18, but at the end of the day, she said her message isn’t about weight loss or weight gain. “I wanted to share that it is okay if you aren’t on the quest for six pack abs (and it’s okay if you are too) but most importantly, that the way our bodies look truly has no determination over whether or not we can decide to live our lives fully and with joy,” she explained.
Although her outlook is purely about positivity, that doesn’t stop hate from online trolls. “[I deal with body shaming] on a daily basis. Much more now than I ever dealt with, even as an overweight teen believe it or not,” she said. “There are cruel people, but there are so many more kind people. My response is simple: First of all, I never engage, it is not my job to fend off their anger, but I do sincerely pray for them in hopes that they may find peace within themselves as hate is only a reflection of that person’s discomfort in their own life.”
She urges other women, young and old, to discover their own self-love, but admits that it can be a long journey. “My first piece of advice is: Stop comparing. Your holistic being will never, ever, be like anyone else’s, and you can’t compare your journey through this life to anyone else’s,” she said. “There is no one right or wrong way to discover self-love…So have compassion and patience with yourself, this undoing will take some time. You are worthy. No matter what anyone has told you, or what you have told yourself for years…you deserve to feel love, and joy, and respect within yourself.” As Kimmey says on Instagram, “Just do you, babe!”
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Life & Style.