Chrissy Metz is an advocate for loving the skin you’re in but loving herself did not happen overnight.
In the two years since NBC’s smash hit drama This Is Us premiered, breakout star Metz, 38, has found fame and a calling as a role model for body positivity. But the actress recently revealed that it has taken her entire life to finally feel comfortable enough to wear a swimsuit.
“I grew up wearing a T-shirt at the pool,” she told Glamour for their November cover story. “As an adult, I was like, ‘I’m gonna find a bathing suit I like and I’m gonna wear it.'”
At the end of June, Metz did just that. While vacationing with a friend in Barbados at the Sandals resort, the actress documented the moment and snapped a photo of herself wearing a black Lane Bryant suit.
Though Metz was proud to shed some of her insecurities, she said other people were also impressed with her decision, but their responses came off in the wrong manner.
“There were people, like, ‘Oh my God, look at you! You know I could never do that,'” she recalled to the publication. “It’s a backhanded compliment, but I’m doing what I want to do.”
While portraying Kate Pearson on This is Us, Metz’s most recent storylines have focused on her trials and tribulations of getting pregnant with her husband Toby (played by Chris Sullivan), as well as moving past her father’s tragic death, establishing her singing career, and adjusting to married life.
Though her weight is discussed on the show, it is not the only thing her character deals with — something which is Metz is grateful for.
“People who’ve never been overweight don’t understand what it all entails. They think you’re just sitting in the corner and all you do is eat,” she told Glamour. “My thing is, let’s get to the real issues — because the food is the symptom; it’s not the issue. Everyone’s filling a void with something.”
“People are still surprised that a big girl could be on TV, and it’s like, Ugh, really? Really?” she said. “There’s so much other stuff to talk about.”
Metz has previously spoken out about embracing her curves, telling PEOPLE in our 2017 style issue that being on the red carpet has helped her feel more confident about her appearance.
“The red carpet transformed how I dressed,” she said. “I never wore form-fitting dresses before. There are a lot of people who make you feel uncomfortable if you show a chubby stomach, arm or leg. I was being educated, while becoming part of the conversation on size inclusivity.”
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“When I started promoting This Is Us, I was worried about how things would photograph, but I slowly gained confidence,” she continued. “I love bold colors and prints now, like the floral gown I wore to the Critics’ Choice Awards. Being a big girl, you want to hide sometimes, but with that dress, it was like ‘Boom! I’m here, in all my embroidered glory.'”
Metz added that she wants to be at the forefront of the body positive conversation to help inspire other women to step out of their comfort zone and experiment with clothing.
“I want to encourage women to enjoy what they’re wearing,” she said. “as opposed to just finding a boring black dress that fits.”