London-based style blogger and Marie Claire columnist Callie Thorpe wasn’t always confident in her body, but she was feeling great when she went on her honeymoon in Mexico.
“I felt wonderful on holiday,” Thorpe, 28, tells PEOPLE. “Whenever I’m away I always feel my most confident. I especially feel so when I’m doing something that people think I can’t do, like paddle boarding, kayaking, cycling and exploring beaches and cenotes. People think because I’m overweight there is no way I could do any of those things.”
Like any honeymooner on a beach vacation, Thorpe posted photos of herself in a swimsuit, many of which visibly showcased her (very normal) cellulite. The photos enraged some of her followers, who began leaving hateful comments.
“The comments started coming after I posted a photo of myself riding a bike in my bikini on a day out in Tulum,” Thorpe says. “I had such positive feedback, but as with everything I received a couple of nasty ones calling me names. [The comments said] ‘I should keep cycling, then I wouldn’t be so fat’ and ‘Save the whales.’ Pathetic stuff, really.”
Thorpe says she didn’t let the comments bring her down while she was on the trip, but when she got home they started to bother her.
“One in particular made comments about me needing grease to get into my wedding dress and that really upset me,” she says. “I think it was an accumulation of exhaustion after a 10-hour flight, and it being one of the first things I saw when I got back into our home together. I started to cry and I just thought, ‘When will this stop?’ and ‘Why do I deserve this just because I share pictures of myself enjoying my life on the internet like everyone else?’ ”
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Thorpe believes because she is a blogger and social media influencer, she gets more unfair criticism.
“There is this assumption that if you put yourself online that you are fair game for abuse, and I think it’s unacceptable.” she says. “No one deserves to be mocked for their size. Just let people live their lives as they see fit.”
Fortunately, Thorpe got lots of positive feedback from many of her followers who defended her, and she also always has the support of her new husband Dan.
“Dan tells me I’m beautiful 24/7 and has always done so, but some of my lowest times with my body were when we were first together. I truly believe confidence comes from within, and although it’s lovely and special to have a partner to love and support you, you have to love yourself first and foremost,” she says.
For anyone struggling with body image, Thorpe’s advice is to not focus so much on your outward appearance and more on what’s within.
“Remember that your body is just one small element of who you are,” she says. “How kind you are, how loving you are, how powerful and strong and intelligent you are is also important. I think we put too much pressure on ourselves, and kindness is key in finding body love.”