Meet Joann van den Herik. The 18-year-old is the younger cousin of supermodels Gigi and Bella Hadid and daughter of their uncle, Leo van den Henrik.
Though the Dutch-born beauty has only recently launched her own modelling career as a plus-size model by signing with 12+ UK Model Management, she’s already won a legion of Instagram followers thanks to her inspiring body-positive posts.
As well as sharing images of herself with her famous cousins, praising them on their modelling success, Joann regularly posts candid photographs of herself alongside inspiring messages about her former insecurities and her journey to body confidence.
In one post of her leaning against her bed in a bra and jeans she describes how insecure she used to feel about certain body parts and how she learnt to get over that feeling.
“I’m so scared posting this BUT I wanna show you guys that instagram girls are NOT perfect,” she told her 39.4K followers. “My biggest insecurities, my legs and my belly….. there once was a girl who couldn’t smile and showing her fatrolls at the same time… There once was a girl who didn’t want to go swimming with her class because then she had to show her legs.. there was once was a girl who hated her stretchmarks and never wanted to change her clothes if there was anyone else in the room (even her family or best friends!). This girl was so insecure because everywhere she looked or went people told her that she was too “fat”, too “ugly”, that she was “unhealthy” and that she needed to lose weight. This girl was so unhappy about her body that she’d do ANYTHING to change it.”
“This girl would have never believed if you told her she was at the same place she is now. This girl is me,” she continued. “People judging you because you don’t look like the models on the covers or people judging you because you DO look like the models on the covers. It’s always too thin or too fat, there’s no in between!!! You can never make other people happy so them. Do YOU! Make yourself happy. Don’t care about the opinions of others because they’re not you and they will never be.”
“Start telling yourself everyday that YOU LOVE YOURSELF!” she concluded her post. “And that your curves rock!!!!!! And dance in your underwear just because you can! Don’t let anyone get you down because you’re amazing, you’re unique, you’re beautiful. And your body is one of a kind, whatever shape or colour it may be.”
In another post she encourages her followers to embrace their bodies, no matter their size, shape or perceived ‘flaws’.
“CELEBRATE THOSE FATROLLS!,” she writes alongside a picture of her in her underwear. “I know it’s hard to look in the mirror and love the curvier parts of your body, but if you think about, it’s just crazy.”
“Who decided that curves aren’t beautiful? Who decided you can’t loveeeee your stretchmarks, fatrolls and big legs? SO I’LL MAKE MY OWN DECISION!!! I’m gonna try and compliment myself on each part of my body ever day, you all should try it. Fatrolls? More like protecting skin. Big ass? More like shaking booty. Too much fat on your legs? More like a mermaidtail! Stretchmarks? TIGERSTRIPES!!!”
“When you feel good, healthy and happy, why does it matter what other people think or look like? The only person who can make you love your body is YOU,” Joann continues. “So try and see things positive instead of negative, it makes a big difference already. A person is most beautiful when they fully accept and love themselves.”
Think the body positive movement just found itself a new leader.
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