As viewers watched Katie Maloney-Schwartz transition from her mid-twenties to age 30 on Vanderpump Rules, they’ve seen her body change through the years — which means the SUR server has dealt with plenty of body shaming on social media.
“I get ‘wow you’ve really blown up,’ or ‘Miss Piggy.’ I get the cow emoji a lot, or ‘are you pregnant?’ ‘What happened to you?’ It’s insane, things you never could imagine saying to anyone. I’ve got it all,” Maloney-Schwartz tells PEOPLE. “Really powerful, uplifting things,” she jokes.
And as regular Vanderpump Rules viewers know, she also gets it from people on the show, like when event planner Kevin Lee told Maloney-Schwartz out of the blue this season that her weight was “out of control,” and that she “has to work on it.”
“It was shocking and appalling,” she says of the incident. “I never thought that someone would have the guts to say something like that to my face, especially someone that I don’t have a relationship with. We don’t know each other that well. With Kevin it was just so inappropriate.”
But after years of getting those body shaming comments, Lee’s words didn’t bother her as much as they would have a few years ago.
“It’s definitely easier to move past it now,” Maloney-Schwartz says. “In the moment, I felt vulnerable and shocked. It was hurtful. After I talked to Lisa [Vanderpump] I felt so much better about it and I didn’t even think about it. I felt kind of bad for him that he has that kind of opinion on women and feels like it’s okay to talk that way. It didn’t eat away at me at all.”
Maloney-Schwartz says her body image has completely changed since the show first started in 2013. She knows that her body was physically much different then, but says that it’s all part of aging.
“I was just 24 years old,” she says. “I was someone who worked out since high school — I was a cheerleader — and I just always worked out and never thought of it. I gave myself a rest, I quit one gym, and that was probably the wrong time to do that because I was 28 and my body was like, guess what, you can’t do that anymore! But it’s fine, it’s called age. I’m 30 and with every milestone I get to in life I try to embrace it.”
Maloney-Schwartz admits that seeing her body shift was “a little hard” at first, but she’s learned to appreciate her shape.
“I think it’s just accepting change, and accepting that it’s okay,” she says. “Our bodies have done nothing but grow and change and grow some more since we were born. Knowing that it’s okay — I don’t need to look a certain way or I don’t need to be the same size as I was when I was 25.”
These days, Maloney-Schwartz focuses on making “smart choices” with her diet, and going to the gym to feel good — not with a focus on losing weight.
“I now workout because it makes me feel good, and if I lose some lbs. in the process, awesome, but it’s about having the right attitude and a realistic approach,” she says. “I want to enjoy life, and I love food and wine and drinks. I’m not going to look back at age 75 and say, ‘I wish I would’ve dieted more.’ ”
Because at the end of the day, she adds, this is her life to live.
“This is my body and this is the skin I live in, I only get one of them, and as long as I’m trying to make smart choices in terms of diet and being healthy and taking care of my body, it doesn’t matter what size I am,” she says.