Twenty-one-year-old Lesley Miller has been waiting the last 18 years for this moment. She's been waiting until the temperatures rose and the opportunity came to not just go to the beach, but to finally, at last, slip into a bikini.
In a Facebook post for Love What Matters, an online platform where people can share their proudest moments, Miller writes that it's taken a while for her to garner up the courage, having gone through a number of traumatic experiences throughout her entire life in order to lose weight.
"I fought my body every step of the way, continually ashamed and silent," she wrote. "When I was three my classmates asked why I was so much bigger than them. Why I didn't wear the same smock they did. When I was seven, I lied to the lady at Weight Watchers, desperate to sit in on meetings full of middle aged women trying to shed a few pounds. When I was nine I went to weight loss camp and stood in line the first week to take my 'before' photo."
And at 11, she had lap band surgery, which left scars on her abdomen. "When I was eleven the surgeon cut into my stomach, and he told me how happy I would finally be," she wrote. "I was the youngest person to have weight loss surgery."
At 15, she explained that she began cutting herself and at 19, she lost half of her body weight in nine months, "my worthy for the day solely determined by the number on the scale being lower than the day before," she wrote.
After everything she went through, she had scars all over her body and excess skin from the dramatic loss of weight. She never thought she'd wear a bikini again, but then, as she wrote, she "got tired of waiting."
"So now I'm 21 and I bought my first bikini," she wrote. "EVER. You can see it all. Weird bulges and rolls of fat. Hanging excess skin. Stretch marks, cellulite, surgical and self harm scars. Awkward protrusion on my abdomen from my lap band."
According to her, "I want to learn to love all of myself, not just the parts I've been told are 'acceptable.' Because the secret is, I was always enough. And you are too."
For as many articles there are about "How to get a bikini body," let this story show that no one body is ideal for a bikini. Scars, skin and marks and all. Want a bikini body? Put on a bikini.
Under her story is a flood of support in the form of more than 2,000 comments. The post has been shared more than 1,400 times and has more than 30,000 likes.
"After reading so many post lately, regarding body image, and why someone of a certain size, shouldn't wear certain items, this is a very refreshing post to read," one commenter wrote. "Lesley, you are beautiful, with a beautiful heart, and body. Keep being you, and never let anyone bring you down."
Another said, "You are fantastic, I always fought, cried and abused my self esteem over my weight, I'm now 78 and finally decided it's ok to look like I do. It took me way too long. Good for you, all and all its all about how you are inside."
Clearly, Miller's story is resonating. Mic has reached out to Miller for comment.