Here's how it sent her health spiraling.

Yes, being overweight can be harmful to your physical health. But the stigma attached to it can be equally or even more harmful to mental health. Influencer Dana Falsetti is speaking out about this issue, and she wants everyone who’s experience body shaming because of their weight to know they’re not alone.

“I’m no longer the fat girl who beats you to the fat joke. I’m not the fat girl who feels the shame others wish I felt. I’m not hiding anymore,” Falsetti wrote in a recent Instagram post, explaining how it wasn’t until she found a community of people who could relate to being body shamed that she realized she could rise above it.

Before she found a support network, she said she coped in ways that eased the pain in the short-term: eating food (a lot of it), having sex, and hiding away.

“Then society pointed fingers at me for binge eating, for being fat, deeming me less than, lazy. If I wasn’t visibly ‘bettering’ myself to achieve acceptable standards of existing, my existence wasn’t justified,” Falsetti wrote.

She went on to prove her point about body shaming. “This is exactly why fat shaming, fat phobic discrimination (healthcare, employment, everywhere) hurts more than what others think is killing me. It’s not my fat body bringing me down. It’s you.”

Only after Falsetti’s mental and emotional health took a serious turn for the worse did she find the strength to love herself. Now, she refuses to be the “token fat girl.”

“I lead with my sensuality. I take up space. I wear what I want. I’m sexual. I’m unashamed. I’m not justifying my existence for you. I’m not giving away my power AND I’m taking ALL my pleasure,” she wrote.

While Falsetti’s message is incredibly empowering, she also clarifies that she isn’t anyone’s inspiration (in the most loving way possible). “Like you, I change moment to moment,” she wrote. “Like you, I don’t have the answers.”

None of us are perfect, and we all face setbacks on our self-love journeys, Falsetti included. See her message as a reminder that you're not alone, and you don't need anyone other than yourself to validate you.

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