Woman dubbed 'elephant legs' becomes fitness model

Team Be

A student cruelly called 'elephant legs' by her schoolteacher has shaken off the memory and become a body postivie fitness model.

Yi Chen, 21, is now inspiring others to love themselves after learning to embrace her curves and her 'little booty'. She's even started wearing shorts and dresses for the first time in nearly ten-years.

“When I was called 'elephant legs' in front of the whole class it was like giving approval for all my peers to make comments about my legs too," the business management student from San Diego says.

"It was very wrong and horrible, from there the kids would call me other names like 'King Kong Barbie', 'big thighs' and a lot of cruel things behind my back.

"The everyday negative comments weren't just from other people but my family and then myself because I started to believe I should be petite too."

Yi with her family as a child around the age she was berated for her muscular physique. Photo: Yi Chen/Caters News

Yi was just ten-years-old when she was mocked for her muscular physique, with even her family declaring her 'too big'.

She used to participate in track and field events, even qualifying for regional competitions, but she says her 'muscular physique' was disapproved of by her family from the age of eight due to 'cultural differences'.

"All my life I was told to be skinny. Asian women are supposed to be like a little bird, petite and not muscular," she says.

"Growing up my family would constantly quiz me about why I was so muscular and big, for them there was no in between, there was only skinny or fat."

This constant negative reinforcement, while living in Taiwan, led her to quit sports and drastically cut back her food intake, even skipping meals entirely, until at 20kg lighter she looked 'thin'.

Yi when she lost 50lb after being told she had elephant legs, she cut out all exercise - after being called elephant legs. Photo: Yi Chen/Caters News

"It got to the point where I was purposely starving myself because of pressures I felt from bullying and my family, in their eyes Asian women are supposed to be skinny," she says.

"I had to be at the dinner table during meals but I would lie by saying I was 'full' from very tiny portions. Some days I just sleep in my room to avoid the whole thing, or I would tell my family I already had eaten.

"But I wasn't happy, it got to a point where I was accepted but I wasn't doing any of the things I enjoyed anymore and the longer I deprived myself of what I enjoyed the worse I felt."

But after moving to the USA at 15, people started complimenting her athletic physique, which eventually gave her the confidence to wear dresses and shorts.

Now she loves her 'thighs, curves and little booty' and shares her experiences online to empower others by getting them to celebrate their figures too.

Yi Chen now loves her body and has gained 50k Instagram followers. Photo: Yi Chen/Caters News

"When I moved to America it gave me a whole different attitude to my physique," she explains.

"Eventually I realised that spending your life trying to please people does not help anyone and makes no sense, I'm glad I'm not like that anymore and am accepting of myself.

"I used to be terrified of wearing skirts, shorts and dresses as it would show off my legs, but now I love to show off my physique and am proud of who I am."

After Yi moved to America, she started to redefine her perception of 'body shape normality' and began to embrace her figure.

Since adopting a healthy diet combined with exercise she is at a healthy and happy 70kgs and now preaches body positivity to her 50,000 Instagram followers.

"I decided that no matter of the positive or negative comments I would ignore them and learn acceptance from myself," she says.

"I've learned to love my legs, I see them as something positive, before they always seemed like a bad thing, but now I think it's great having curves and little booty."

You can watch some of her favourite workouts in the video above.

With additional reporting by Caters News.

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