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This Woman Lost 150 Lbs. Only to Be Bullied Online and Regain Weight — 'I Got Death Threats'

People logo People 08/03/2018 Julie Mazziotta

a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera © Provided by TIME Inc. In 2015, weight loss Instagrammer Stephanie Seabrook went viral for writing on her stomach the cruel comments she used to hear about her weight. She then had skin removal surgery and initially got thousands of comments of support, but a few weeks later, people starting accusing her of photoshopping her pictures.

“At first I tried to just shrug it off, and not think about it, but it started to get progressively worse and more frequent,” Seabrook, 30, tells PEOPLE of the cyberbullying.

She discovered that a girl she met through Instagram was actually photoshopping her pictures and posting them all over to drive the hateful comments.

“I got death threats, and people said I should go kill myself because I’m pathetic,” Seabrook says. “They thought that I was a liar and a fraud when I was just trying to be loved and accepted like anyone else.”

Stuck in “this emotional state of not being able to deal with” their comments, Seabrook started regaining the 150 lbs. she had lost.

“I was getting really depressed, and I couldn’t admit to everyone that I was gaining weight because I felt that I had a duty to be there for these people who said they could relate to me,” she says. “I didn’t want to disappoint them.”

Unsure of where to go from there, Seabrook did start photoshopping her own pictures, thinking it would stop her followers from leaving. Instead, “it made everything ten times worse.”

She decided to completely shut down her Instagram account, and reached out for help from a therapist, family and friends. Though the entire experience was difficult, Seabrook says she’s in a much better place now and appreciates what she went through.

“It made me a much stronger individual and a much stronger woman,” she says. “In hindsight, it made me comfortable with who I am and regardless of what people think of me, what really matters is what I think of myself.”

And on Inauguration Day 2017, after about nine months away, Seabrook reactivated her account with a full-length photo and an honest post about what happened and how she regained 100 lbs.

A post shared by Stephanie Cano (@seabrook715) on Jan 20, 2017 at 8:57am PST

“I said that this is where I am, this is who I am, and you can either accept it or not,” she says. “I’ve been trying to promote self-worth and self-love, and realizing that even if someone is gaining weight it has nothing to do with fitness and health, it has everything to do with what’s going on in their lives, and sometimes that’s okay.”

Seabrook is working on losing weight — she’s lost about 40 lbs. so far — but it’s purely for her health and the hope of having a baby with her husband. She says that being honest about her experience and admitting her mistakes on Instagram has changed her life.

It’s crazy to think that I wasn’t much happier at 185 from 340. It was like superficial happiness. Like “oh I have a ‘great’ body now so life will be easier and I’m getting attention.” Sure at 24 I thought that was happiness but oh was I wrong. I clearly did not learn everything I needed to so I started to gain weight; my journey was not over. Around the time my relationship with Kaycee became turbulent I started gaining weight. I went back into my old eating habits when I am upset or stressed. Fast food mostly. It was comforting again. But then I realized I was gaining weight I was too ashamed to admit it. I felt like I let myself down and let everyone else down. I tried to alter my photos to try make myself feel happy again. Thinking people will comment and say I looked good and maybe that would be the motivation I needed to succeed. Nope. That was a huge learning moment in my life. 1. Not all people are who they seem or portray. 2. Being dishonest will never bring happiness. Once I was, inappropriately, outed the flood gates of hate opened. After months of trying to deal with that I shut this account down for almost a year. On Jan. 20th, 2017 I decided no one gets to make me feel bad ever again, including myself. I came back, admitted my mistakes and moved forward. Sometimes it takes a period of time for reflection to figure out what changes need to be made. I needed to take time for me to heal and find myself again. I learned never to apologize for me and to just love and do the right thing every time. I have never been happier in my life and my relationship with my husband has never been better. I am human and will always make mistakes but it’s about not repeating the same mistakes. I know you have had hard times. But try to look at them as a positive. Because hard times are what allow us to grow and learn. Right? Don’t let a number or fat on your body limit your love for yourself. Errbody needs more LOVE! If you ever feel like you need to talk, vent or just need someone to listen I am always here. ♥️

A post shared by Stephanie Cano (@seabrook715) on

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