Sailor Brinkley-Cook, the 21-year-old daughter of Christie Brinkley who waltzed her way into the hearts of many on “Dancing With the Stars,” is opening up about her struggles with body image and eating disorder tendencies in hopes of helping other young women.
"I feel like no matter if you have cellulite, no matter if your stomach has rolls, no matter if your stick thin, whatever you look like, I feel like life is too precious to not go out there putting your best foot forward and loving yourself," Brinkley-Cook told ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts. “I just I don't want life to pass me by. And I'll look back and say, why didn't I appreciate myself?"
Earlier this week, Brinkley-Cook took to Instagram earlier this week and opened up about her struggle with body image. “I’ve been so down on myself recently,” she wrote. “Crying about my cellulite, letting the fat on my body ruin my day, getting mad that I’m not as skinny as I once was. The body dysmorphia and left over eating disorder tendencies have been coming in strong.”
“I think I sort of posted that out of anger,” the "DWTS" alum explained.
Brinkley said she shared her raw emotions in the Instagram post after she had just hopped out of the pool. “I looked down and I just got so mad at myself and I felt disgusted … I’ve just been having these moments and looking into the mirror and being disgusted with myself for the tiniest things, like a roll on my stomach, a little pooch on the bottom of my stomach.”
“I have this awful feeling that if I’m not skinny, I’m not worth being celebrated and I’m not worth being praised,” she added.
Brinkley-Cook revealed that she developed an eating disorder when she was around 15-years-old, during the time she started getting into modeling.
“I was looking up at all these major figures in modeling that are size double zero and they’ve got these thin legs and these tiny waists,” she said. “I was seeing them being so celebrated by everyone everywhere and being wanted by all the boys and all that greatness that comes around being this tiny supermodel. And I wanted that.”
So, Brinkley-Cook -- who was just in high school at the time -- said she started reducing her calories for meals and working out five times a day.
Seven years ago -- around the same time her struggles began -- Brinkley-Cook sat down with Roberts for an interview. Looking back on that time, she said that she felt confident and happy because of how thin she was. But Brinkley-Cook revealed that it was the “pinnacle of her eating disorder.”
Growing up, she says that stepping into the media glare with comparisons to her near mirror image mom was not easy. And although they are close, Brinkley-Cook said that she hid her struggles from her.
“I grew up a little bit overweight and I felt the weight of my overweightness on me constantly from people teasing me and people looking at me differently,” she said. “My mom didn’t know the pain that I was going through when I was at my worst.”
Sharing her story to teach young women to love their bodies
Since sharing her story, Brinkley-Cook has received thousands of likes and comments from other women who have reached out to her to share their stories about their struggles with body image.
“I’ve gotten so many messages from people around the world just giving me love and telling me their stories and that was extremely powerful for me,” she said.
Now, Brinkley-Cook is hoping her story can shed light on the issues surrounding body image and help other women struggling too by being more transparent online.
“I never share my struggles. Honestly, I don’t share those negative parts about myself,” she said. “I’m willing to say, hey, I’m not perfect. And I deal with this, and this. And I want to talk about it because what’s the point of dealing with anything in life if you can’t share your experiences and help someone else?”
With the post and her new outlook, Brinkley-Cook said she’s personally trying to be more transparent on Instagram and take social media breaks because “no one’s life is truly 100 percent how it looks.”
“I'm going to try and be really transparent with my problems because I think that's the way to make Instagram a great tool, is to share and to communicate and to have conversations about things that are hard to talk about,” she said.
Her advice to other women: “Life is too short to not celebrate your body in every season of your life."