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Blogger & Plus-Model Melinda Parrish On Why Body Confidence is a Choice

As a kid, I felt like I wasn’t the best because I was bigger than everyone else. I went on my first diet at age 7, and I always had a hard time finding clothes that fit when I shopped at the same stores as my friends. The fitting room was like a torture chamber: even if I found clothes to try on, they never fit my body.

When I became a female athlete in high school and college, I finally felt like my size was an asset. It felt like I had found my place in the world. When I got accepted to the United States Naval Academy to become a varsity rower and midshipman, those feelings intensified and my confidence surged. I was more confident in my body than ever before. I was proud of my height, my muscular frame and, mostly, what my body could do.

But there was a dark side to this sense of pride in my body. It was during this time in my life that my struggle with binge eating and bulimia began. It drove me to treat my body poorly, all in the name of measuring up to other people’s standards for what my body should look like, and what it should be able to do.

Mel Parrish of Healthy At Any Size on Body Confidence

Everything changed for me when I injured my back rowing. After graduating and being commissioned as an officer in the Navy, I was (honorably) medically discharged. I resented my body for what had happened. But weirdly, it was because of this seemingly negative card I’d been dealt that I was finally able to heal and learn how to love my body harder than ever before.

It didn’t happen overnight. Even after my surgeries, I continued to hold myself and my body to really high standards. I wanted to have the “best” body possible—I was putting myself and my body through hell to get there. My eating disorder intensified.

A few nights before my wedding, I was lying in the bathtub. As I sat there feeling terrible about my body, thinking all kinds of negative thoughts about myself, I had an epiphany. I made the choice, from that moment on, to stop obsessing over my body’s imperfections, and to accept it exactly as it was.

Mel Parrish of Healthy At Any Size on Body Confidence

Three months after my wedding—and my “bathtub moment”—I signed a modeling contract with TRUE Model Management in New York. Now, I’m a successful plus-size model, blogger, and social influencer. I’m in recovery from my eating disorder, and completely in love with the body that I have. The choice to accept my body has literally transformed my life!

Now, I wake up every day feeling fulfilled. I love what I see every time I look in the mirror. This is possible for every woman—which is why I’ve dedicated my work to the mission of helping other women to love their bodies harder than ever before as well. It all starts with one simple choice: to love the body that you have, exactly as it is today. Once you make that choice, there’s no stopping you.

To learn more about Melinda Parrish, and to become a member of the #healthyatanysize community, visit melparrish.com and sign up for her weekly newsletter!

Melinda wears swim styles by Always For Me, including the Twist-Front Bandeau Swimsuit in Black. Shop more plus-size swim styles