The journey to loving and accepting your body is long, difficult, and different for everyone.
For some, it’s all about finding an exercise they actually enjoy. For others, it’s reminding themselves that the perfectly filtered photos they see on Instagram aren’t reflective of reality.
For social worker and model Kevin Creekman, also known as The Creekman on Instagram, it’s down to willpower, discipline, surgery, and, finally, tattoos.
‘Since my earliest childhood I had always been overweight,’ Kevin told metro.co.uk, explaining that by age 10 he already had stretch marks.
‘At age of 18 I weighted over 150 kg. I got bullied a lot and I hadn’t any social life beside of computer games like World of Warcraft.
‘I had already tried several diets, without any success.’
In his teens he found motivation in a friend who wanted to lose weight too. They motivayed each other to keep going, and slowly, through a low carb diet and cardio, Kevin began to lose weight.
‘I lost about 80 kilos in one year and suddenly I found myself in a new body, to take a second chance of life,’ said Kevin.
‘A new form of willpower was born, to work really hard for everything I want to achieve in life, because I started to believe that everything is possible!’
But weight loss didn’t magically fix the way Kevin viewed his body.
His transformation had left him with excess skin, which he had two large surgeries to remove.
Following the surgeries Kevin was left with scars – and new insecurities to go with them.
‘I didn’t feel confident because of all those scars,’ he told us. ‘I just wanted to take my shirt off without having to tell people about my story of losing weight.
‘To start a new life, I felt I need to cover my scars and hide my past. To be free in my skin, without thinking about what other people could see or think about me, that is related to my past.’
Kevin found a solution that worked for him: tattoos.
He began to cover his scars with custom tattoos, and quickly fell in love with body art.
What started as a way to fix an insecurity became a source of confidence.
‘I was able to play a role of somebody I always wanted to be,’ explains Kevin.
‘And more and more I feel to be that person I always try to look like.
‘My tattoos were the last puzzle piece to build strength, confidence and freedom in my skin.’
Kevin is now entirely covered in tattoos from a bunch of different artists, some with personal significance, and others serving purely as decoration for his skin.
Each time he’s ready for a new tattoo, he keeps an eye out for great artists and finds inspiration in their work, working with them to create a piece that keeps building up his confidence.
His appearance has gained him work as a model and Instagram star, roles that he maintains while working 40 hours a week as a social worker in Cologne – helping refugees learn in German schools.
While he knows that his path to self-love definitely isn’t for everyone, he hopes that his story will inspire others to find their own way to find a way to love and accept themselves.
‘I believe that everything is achievable,’ says Kevin. ‘You just need to find what you really want and who you really want to be in life.
‘Everything between you and your dream is just willpower and discipline.’
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