When she was 16, Catherine Harrison of Texas volunteered to model for a gala in her hometown.
Backstage, she was recruited by a modeling agency. She worked for them part-time for a few years, but one day, they just stopped calling. When she asked what was going on, she was told she was a dress size too large.
She was a size 6 at the time. The agency told her they were only booking people who were a size 4 or under, but if she wanted to “lose some of that extra weight,” they would consider rehiring her.
Catherine was stunned, and the rejection caused her to be overly critical of her body. “It really, really hurt,” she said.
When she was 17, Catherine was diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disorder called rheumatoid arthritis. She was told she could no longer do any high-impact exercise, so her fear of gaining weight was amplified. Thankfully, that’s when she discovered a unique way to stay healthy and get stronger than ever: powerlifting!
Soon, she was joining the powerlifting team at the University of Houston, where she slowly began building muscle mass. She immediately felt right at home among the other athletes at her gym and formed tight friendships, calling them “some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.”
The camaraderie encouraged Catherine to push herself harder and focus not on being thinner, but on being healthy in body and mind.
“Naturally, I like to compare myself to other people, but they taught me to not compare myself to other people,” she said.
The novel coronavirus outbreak kept Catherine from entering the collegiate nationals, but just qualifying for the event was a big deal. She has continued to work hard throughout the pandemic, even hitting her own personal goal of deadlifting 300 pounds!
In addition to adding muscle to her frame, the 23-year-old’s mental health has never been better! She shares motivational videos and health tips on her Instagram page, and she has come a long way since she was 16. Today, she values her body more and appreciates what it’s capable of instead of focusing on what others may see as flaws.
Recently, she tweeted a side-by-side comparison of herself modeling at 16 versus how she looks now. The message was so powerful that the tweet went viral. She’s using all the attention to raise awareness for body dysmorphia and the pressure we put on women to be thin.
Catherine said she’s humbled by all the praise her picture has brought her online, but ultimately she hopes her journey will help someone else who is struggling with body image and confidence. Way to go, Catherine! We can’t wait to see your newfound confidence send you to the next level!
Don’t forget to share her empowering story with others.
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