Gabrielle Olya
May 15, 2017 03:05 PM
Jana Roller
Jana Roller/Instagram; Ramirez Creative

Jana Roller had worked hard for two years — and lost 135 lbs. — to prepare for her first bodybuilding competition, so when she noticed her photograph was not included in an online gallery from the show she was understandably upset.

“It’s disappointing because everybody expects their photo to be there,” the professional photographer and trainer, 29, tells PEOPLE. “It is a competitive industry, so of course when you step up there you’re expecting to be judged on how you look. But it was disappointing.”

Roller decided to reach out to the photographer to find out why her photograph had been omitted.

Chase your dreams GRRRLS and don't give any Fks about the opinions of others!! You are limitless!! Jana 😍 Keep aspiring & inspiring GRRRL! 😘 @janababefit 👏👏👏 __________ "I'm posting one of the stage shots from one of the stage photographers but here is the story behind it. When I went through the gallery from the photographer my photo was missing from my category. When I asked for it and asked why it wasn't posted in the competitor gallery he sent me it via private message saying that because my physique wasn't as great he decided to err on the side of caution to avoid me asking him to remove it or edit the photo. He assumed I was embarrassed. Look. I get it that I wasn't stage lean. Maybe some of the competitors didn't think I was serious about my presence there. I worked for 2 years, lost 140lb, went through prep just like everyone else. I stuck to the plan, did hours of cardio, 5 am sessions. I worked just as hard to be told that I wasn't good enough to be showcased amongst every one else. It's a good thing I have thick skin, and I will be working towards getting stage lean. This show wasn't about that. This show was about how far I've come. As a full time professional photographer myself who shoots athletes I can tell you and as we all know we all have a story. And every story deserves to be captured, documented, showcased and respected the same. This is just the beginning for me, and I won't be told that I should be embarrassed of this photo. I'm proud of my loose skin. As someone who has battled body image for years, to stand up there next to beautiful physiques took a lot mentally. I'm so proud of this photo. Not of the photographer who took it. See you at the #popeyesfallclassic when I bring my bad self to the stage again. Just because I'm not "there" yet doesn't mean I won't be. They call it #transformation for a reason and I think when it comes to bodybuilding shows we don't give enough credit to the journey and what it takes for athletes to get there. Every step of the journey deserves to be honored, not just the end result." #Iam1stPhorm #legionofboom #figureprep #figurecompetitor #womenwithmuscle #weightlosstransformation #inspire

A post shared by GRRRL ™ (@grrrl_clothing) on

“[He said] that because my physique wasn’t as great, he decided to err on the side of caution to avoid me asking him to remove it or edit the photo,” she shared on Instagram. “He assumed I was embarrassed.”

But Roller had the opposite feeling when she saw photos of herself from competition day — she was extremely proud of what she saw.

“When I saw it, I was like, this is amazing,” she says. “When I look at it, I see the progress that I’ve made, but also I can see what I can do to improve in terms of where I want to take myself in competition. When I look at that photo, I see one small step in a very long journey. It was really important to have that to see it, and it made me really excited.”

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While Roller knows she was not “stage lean,” she doesn’t feel this is a reason for her photograph to not be included with the rest of her competitors, as she worked just as hard as they did to be ready to step on that stage. That’s why she felt it was so important she speak up and talk about her experience being shamed by the photographer.

“I’m not the first person to step on a stage that isn’t stage-ready — I’m just vocal about it,” she says. “I got messages from fellow competitors saying, ‘I’m so glad you stepped on stage.’ My photo has [brought to light] an underlying issue that is much bigger, and many people that are trying to make those changes are relating with it, and so many people are resonating with it. I want to be that inspiration and support for people that want to do it for themselves too.”

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