You’re an advocate for body positivity. Why did you join this movement?
I started to advocate body positivity in media and social media two years ago. At that time, I was a finalist in the Fitnessmalli (fitness model) competition (now known as Wellnessmalli), and I was the first more curvy fitness model to compete. During the competition, I received some very harsh public criticism saying that I shouldn't compete because of my size. Of course, the criticism and the harsh words hurt me, but I chose not to listen to those cruel words and fight them with a positive message of acceptance instead. Finally, with determination, a positive mindset and lots of hard work I ended up being the first runner-up in the Fitnessmalli competition. I wanted to be an example for people and show that sporty doesn’t come in one size only.
What does body positivity mean to you?
For me body positivity means accepting yourself as who you are and being gracious to yourself. We are all beautiful in our own ways and learning to see that unique beauty in yourself is what matters the most.
Has owning a body positive Instagram account changed the way you view yourself?
Yes, definitely! It has given me a more profound way of viewing myself and others. Also the encouragement and nice messages I get from my followers are golden.
Do you think that social media is good or bad for women’s mental health? Please explain.
It's a double-edged sword. Social media can do both - it can bring you down or lift you up. Social media can inspire you through all the interesting people you can follow, but on the flipside it makes people compare themselves (and their lives) to others.
It is very important to know that things aren’t always what they seem and you can fake so much on Instagram and in the media. That’ why it’s good to also have influencers that show the "not-so-perfect" side of things. As an influencer myself, I get a lot of feedback that people like to follow me because I’m not fake and I keep it real. I show the good stuff and I’m also open about the negative stuff, but I always try to find an empowering way to talk about those things. For example: I can take a picture where I am at my best, but I will also post pictures showing my love handles.
What are your 3 best tips for self-love?
1. Don't compare yourself to other people - your uniqueness is your strength.
2. Talk to yourself as if you’re talking to your best friend - be kind and gracious to yourself.
3. Be the best version of yourself – don’t try to be anyone else.
You are the co-owner of Wellnessmalli. Can you please tell us more about that?
As I said, I was a finalist in the Wellnessmalli competition (formerly known as Fitnessmalli) two years ago. At the end I was the first runner-up in the whole competition and the first Fitnessmalli with more curves. Then, 1,5 years later, I was given a chance to buy the whole competition and I did. My associates and I decided to change the name to something more modern and we came up with Wellnessmalli. The first Wellnessmalli casting will be on 11.4 and the finale is at the “I Love Me” trade show in October.
Why did you get involved with Wellnessmalli?
Wellnessmalli is a competition for women that have a bright personality, positive mindset, and who are a brave and good role models for both the young and old. We think that sportiness and a joyful attitude exudes modern wellness and it goes well beyond only looks. We wanted to have a wellness competition that is not based on looks alone, but also on who would be a great role model.
Why do you think it is important to show different body types in the context of wellness and fitness?
For a long time the media and the fashion industry portrayed only a certain body type, which led a lot of women to think that there was something wrong with them. This escalated to extreme dieting and body image issues. We’re all different and shouldn’t try to fit into the same mold. It’s very important to show different body types that different people can relate to.
Want to see more of Anni? Follow her Instagram account @avatraining