After so many years of being rejected and having my body scrutinized... for Aerie to come along and basically say, 'We accept you. We don't care about your size.' To see those pictures on a Times Square billboard, and they were completely unretouched, I just was like, 'Wow. I finally feel good enough!'
I refuse to let something as insignificant as a size or number on a scale determine how I feel about myself. I am grateful for my body, my health, and the life that I have, and no arbitrary number should have any impact on that.
I just spent five, six years sacrificing so much to try and fit into that one ideal, that one small standard, and I was never good enough. And it was just frustration that turned into motivation... That became my ammunition, all the people that told me I couldn't.
A brand is only going to want to be more inclusive if they feel like it's going to be good for business as well as making the consumer feel good - so we have to encourage people to do that. Consumers have to stand up and say, 'I have power: my pound or dollar is how I vote.'
I remember I took an editorial, and I was so excited. I got the pictures back, and I looked in the magazine, and I was like, 'Oh my gosh!' My arms were half their size, and I had a thigh gap magically, and all these crazy things. My family went out and tried to find my pictures in the magazines, but no one could recognize me.
I remember doing a commercial one time where I stepped on a shard of glass, and I was hobbling around in swimwear. It was raining and in the commercial, when I saw it, I didn't look like I had a messed up foot.
I'm very aware I have very young people following me - 11- and 12-year-olds. I want to do things that are aspirational, so I'm not going to pick a picture that's unattractive - even in the sense of lighting and angles - but I make sure that it's realistic. It is me, and it is my body. I wouldn't put anything out there that isn't real.
Obviously, breast cancer is very much out there but cervical cancer isn't talked about as much because there's a bit more of a stigma around it. Certainly that's something I want to make sure that young girls know.
I felt like the sample size was right, and my body was wrong. I basically ended up going into battle with my body, and that's a daily battle every time you look in the mirror. Every time you see an image of a successful model or someone who you look up to who doesn't look like you, you think you're not good enough.
I was called 'fat' 200 times on shoots and had serious trouble fitting in the clothes at fashion shows. All these things break you down to a point where you look in the mirror and don't like what you see.