Plus-Size Model And Influencer Catie Li Talks Overcoming Body Image Issues - Exclusive

Even though Catie Li is a wildly successful plus-size model, fashion designer, and influencer, she has still struggled with her body image, just like most women. Growing up, Li was curvier than the rest of her family, and in the era of low-rise jeans and stick-thin pop stars, she didn't feel like she had the right kind of body. She was always on a diet and working out, trying to get thinner, but her body refused to shrink.

Even as a model, Li still struggled with her body image. Most of the time, she was the only plus-size model on set surrounded by ultra-thin women. Sometimes, she was asked to show up with her own clothes because the wardrobe department didn't have anything that fit her. Li found that the people in charge often didn't care if she was comfortable during the shoot or even if the clothes looked good on her. She felt like she was just there to check a diversity box.

But the struggles of being a plus-size model also helped Li overcome her body image issues. In an exclusive interview with Health Digest, Li revealed how she made peace with her body and ended up nude on the cover of Women's Health.

Media and body image

Before Catie Li started modeling, she didn't even know plus-size models existed because she'd never seen anyone who looked like her in a magazine, on screen, or featured in an ad campaign. When she started modeling, she got an insider's view of how the media we all consume gets produced and how it impacts the way we think about bodies

Li saw that the majority of the bodies at every shoot she went to were thin — as were the majority of the bodies on social media. She realized that when women are comparing themselves to those standards, they'll always feel like they don't measure up, literally and figuratively.

"I'm seeing my body has to be this way in order to show it, but nobody really cares," she said. "Nobody's looking at you." As she sat with that realization, Li started to understand how important it was for her to represent plus-size bodies in the media.

'The moment was bigger than me'

Catie Li really had to remember that when she graced the cover of Women's Health in nothing at all. Though she was nervous about baring it all, she realized that the shoot was spreading a necessary message.

"I'm nervous just like anybody else, but the moment was bigger than me," she explained. "It's not about how I feel and my insecurities. It's very much about how others will perceive it in a positive way."

Li wants to ensure that girls today don't have the experience she did — never seeing someone who looks like them on the cover of a magazine. And she wants all of us to see more diverse bodies in all kinds of media. "The more that children — and even us — see it, the more it will change our mindset about it, and we can be comfortable."

Though Li still has her insecurities about her body sometimes, she's leaving them behind to show others that they can too. 

For more updates on Catie Li's work, you can follow her on Instagram.