Meet The Swimsuit Model Whose Career Only Took Off After She Gained 10kg

Everyday we're bombarded with stories documenting someone's weight loss success. You know the kind: "I lost 5kg and I've never been happier".

Well, this isn't that story.

This story is about Karina Irby and how she's redefining the way women  see their bodies -- especially on social media.

It all started six years ago.

"It all started when social media kind of became a big thing," she told 10 daily. "It kept pushing it in my face that you had to be thin and that curves weren’t cool."

The 28-year-old said that growing up she was your "everyday teenager" -- but steered clear of booze and drugs, instead choosing to spend her time surfing.

READ MORE: Straight To The Shops: Chocolate Is Good For Your Health!

READ MORE: Study Finds Hot Baths Are Better Than Exercise At Treating Depression

Irby six years ago (left) compared to now (right). Source: Instagram/@karinairby

But it wasn't long before Irby fell down the social media rabbit hole and soon began cutting calories and "exercising too much" to try and morph her body into the mold she saw populated across social media.

"I wasn't eating properly and I got really skinny," she said.

Not long after, Irby packed her bags and moved to the Gold Coast and that's where she said "everything changed".

"I looked around and saw such a mix of bodies at the beach and I looked at myself and I just knew that this wasn't me," she said. "I remember thinking to myself, 'I’m hungry', and that’s when I actually started working out, you know, lifting weights and not just doing cardio," she said.

Irby said she then began to start researching food  and suddenly noticed a "difference in my personality and in my moods". "It was just contagious," she said.

Irby's popular before and after shots. Both images -- the pair on the right and the pair on the left -- were taken within three seconds of one another. Source: Instagram/@karinairby

It wasn't long after the move that Irby gained 10kg -- taking her from 54kg to 64kg. "Some of the weight is from muscle," she said, before adding with a laugh: "And some is from fat". Irby adds that despite "feeling so much better", not everyone was complimentary about her new figure. "I found it really hard in the beginning," she said.

It was then that she decided to transform her Instagram account from one aimed at promoting perfection to one proudly showcasing her imperfections. It worked. Her following grew fast. She's currently got 913k followers and counting.

But the her rise to becoming 'Insta-famous' came with a cost.

"I was just getting bullied online. When I'd put up before and after photos of me I would get told that I was fat. I’m not gonna lie, though, I kind of don’t care, because the more backlash comments I got, the more people landed on my page and saw my message".

Irby is determined to show herself unedited and unfiltered. Source: Instagram/@karinairby

It wasn't long before Irby decided to take her body positivity message to the streets by starting her own swimwear line Moana Bikini. And hers is a message that is clearly desperately needed.

According to a 2017 joint study by The University of New South Wales and Macquarie University, spending as little as 30 minutes trawling through Instagram can make women fixate negatively on their weight an appearance.

Now, apart from making stunning swimwear designed to suit  everybody, Irby spends her time teaching others how to love their body just the way it is.

"Sometimes I’ll post a photo -- one that I have heavily photoshopped and girls will comment that I looked beautiful," she said. "I use that opportunity to tell them to wake up. That's the thing -- we can't even tell something has been photoshopped anymore because our Instagram feeds are filled with images that are fake."

Karina's Top Tips For Staying Sane On Social Media
  • People only post the best photos online -- they don’t post the hundreds of others they took to get it or the photo that happened three seconds later.
  • If something looks too good it probably is.
  • Always look closely at the background of a photo because it can usually tell you if the image has been distorted.
  • Embrace your body -- if we all looked the same we would be robots and there would be no such thing as beauty.

Feature Image:  Instagram/@karinairby