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The 28-year-old model Emily DiDonato opened up about her journey to body positivity

Four months ago, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model Emily DiDonato, 28, opened up about her struggles with body image acceptance throughout her modeling career and ever since she’s been blown away by the reactions she’s received.

“I was building my YouTube channel, and I realized that I had this very engaged female audience,” the model tells PEOPLE exclusively at Aerie’s Delivering Good holiday campaign, supporting women and girls in homeless shelters. “I felt like I had this channel where I was really showing people the most real, authentic me, and I wanted to use it in a meaningful way. It was a message that I was ready to share.”

In August, DiDonato filmed a 15-minute video on her YouTube channel detailing her experience as a model, recalling times when agencies told her she was “too big” causing her to lose 20 pounds, and the moment she experienced true self-acceptance.

“So many people reached out, and so many outlets picked it up. I was blown away,” she says. “I had girls like Karlie Kloss repost it, and I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ I couldn’t believe how much it resonated with so many different types of people. But, I mean, now that I think about it, it’s actually a no brainer that it does.”

The model, who has graced the pages of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue and starred in Maybelline campaigns, credits body-positive brands like Aerie for giving her the push she needed to share her story.

(Fri 27) · Read All Bikini News Daily

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