The reality star, 26, revealed that she started comparing herself to other girls at a young age after seeing the models in the Limited Too catalogs. “I had a really round face, like I still do now, and huge dimples,” Brown said in a YouTube video on Wednesday, February 10. “Everyone would always comment on my ‘little chubby face.’”
The Alabama native recalled her mom calling her legs, “logger legs,” because her grandfather was a logger. “She said, ‘If we had strong legs, we could pick up trees,’” she added.
Brown admitted that her legs have always been something struggled to accept after a dancer in her class said skinny girls should have a thigh gap.
“I don’t naturally have a thigh gap. I always hated my legs,” the former Bachelorette said. “I wanted to be perfect. I was always self-conscious that I wasn’t as thin as I wanted to be.”
The former Miss Alabama noted that she “loved to eat” and still does, but once she entered the pageant world in high school, her unhealthy relationship with food began. She remembered someone telling her as a teenager that she was “pretty, but I was a little curvy or a little thick.”
Comments like that added to her desire to lose weight and prompted her to begin dieting at 15 or 16 years old. “I lost, like, 15 pounds in a month,” she said of the diet, which consisted of eating mainly chicken, eggs and green beans. “I had abs for the first time. My legs were still bigger, I felt bigger. I was so hungry.”
Once she was done with the competition, which included a swimsuit portion, Brown said “all the weight came back on and more,” which led to her “extreme yo-yo” diets.
“I had a lot of anxiety. A lot of depression,” she said of that time. After her time at the University of Alabama, Brown went through a breakup and was told that it was OK she lost weight because, “There’s no skinny like breakup skinny.”
The TV personality noted that she did lose weight after her breakup, which is also when she started gearing up for the Miss Alabama pageant and “got really small.”
She recalled not knowing how she slimmed down so much, saying, “The only thing I’ve done is got my heart broken. I would truly forget to eat. I was sad. I was not eating enough. I remember winning and there were so many emotions with that.”
Following the win, she was scared of gaining the weight back, revealing she “finally” had a thigh gap. “I was so small and had no energy that I couldn’t do the workouts I used to do,” she said. “I think I had trained myself to be full.”
“I had another public breakup [and] I lost it all again,” she said, referencing he split from season 15 winner Jed Wyatt. When competing on Dancing With the Stars, Brown said she did not feel thin enough compared to the “other beautiful professional women.”
Looking back, she explained that she has “always” struggled with feeling worthy.
“I didn’t have any self-worth through all that,” she said. “I have definitely struggled with accepting the way my body is now. Loving myself and knowing because I have taken off this time [from working out post-DWTS], is loving my body. I needed rest. I needed to dig deep emotionally in who I want to be.”
Now, the DWTS winner is trying to focus on her overall health and not a thigh gap or “whether I can fit in those size zero pants or not.”
She revealed that it is a “daily struggle” to embrace her body as it is. “My better and better doesn’t always mean smaller and smaller,” she continued. “[Just] be a healthier version of Hannah. I just want to be able to move my body. I’ve put my body through so much stress that it shut down.”
Brown added: “Mentally, I’m healing and I’m resting my body so I can slowly love on my body. There is not a world where I am not going to let myself enjoy life. I love sugar. I’m not doing to deprive myself.”