By Rebecca Drew
THIS WOMAN says being born with a condition that left her with giant legs that measure thirty-four-inches each drives men wild – giving her the confidence to share racy pictures online that have been reposted by supermodel Ashley Graham.
Brand influencer and mum of four Heather Johnson (38) from Goose Creek, South Carolina, USA, has lipoedema – a painful condition which causes an abnormal build up of fat in the legs and arms.
Lipoedema sufferers like Heather tend to have a small waist and upper body in comparison to their arms, legs and bottom – the skin of which can be soft and dimpled in texture.
Heather has always been a curvy girl and bigger than her peers which caused her to start dieting when she was just six years old. This left her in a vicious cycle of losing and then gaining weight and at the age of 31, Heather weighed 30st 5lb and was a UK size 36.
Following the advice from her doctor, she underwent gastric sleeve surgery the same year and lost a whopping 11st 11lb and now after some years weighs 20st 5lb and is a UK size 22. Despite her weight loss, Heather could never seem to lose weight from her legs or arms no matter how hard she tried.
With a newfound confidence, Heather started an Instagram page in 2016 where she shared body positive and confident pictures of herself and tagged the brands she was wearing which has lead to collaborations with the likes of Shein, Fashion Nova, Lane Bryant, Curvysense and Good American.
It was through Instagram that Heather discovered lipoedema and finally everything made sense to her. With no lipoedema specialist in her state, Heather has made it her mission to raise awareness of lipoedema to the world and her influencer and modelling career has taken off.
Heather is 5ft 9ins tall and has a slim 39-inch waist compared to her 59-inch hips, with each thigh measuring 34-inches.
Heather shares sexy pictures online of her wearing beautiful dresses, underwear and bikinis in the hope of showing other lipoedema sufferers that they are perfect just the way they are.
Heather is inundated with positive comments daily from men and women who say that she has inspired them. Some men have also commented that they love her legs and say that she is beautiful the way she is – this is something that boosts Heather’s confidence.
The awareness raising work Heather has done has also captured the attention of supermodels Ashley Graham and Tyra Banks, who have both shared her on their own personal Instagram pages.
“I’ve been a big girl my whole life. I started weight watchers when I was six, I continued to do diet after diet after diet,” said Heather.
“I always had a big butt, big legs, small waist, and flabby arms. When I was thirty-one, I weighed four-hundred-and-twenty-four-pounds and I was told that if I didn’t lose weight that I would die, so I proceeded to have a gastric sleeve.
“I lost one-hundred-and-sixty-five-pounds but I couldn’t really seem to lose the weight in the lower half of my body as much as I wanted.
“Instagram is how I found out about lipoedema. I was happy to figure out that I wasn’t crazy in the thought that my body was different from other people’s, it was like a relief to know that all these things were connected and had a name.
“Lipoedema is a condition where your fatty tissue grows differently and stays in certain areas of your body, for instance mine is my lower half, my butt, my thighs, my legs, and then also your skin is a lot softer.
“Your legs hurt to touch, so if someone sits on your legs or pushes on your legs, you could be bruised, also it makes you feel like gravity is pulling you harder than normal people, your legs feel like they have weights in them.
“I have to wear compression clothes to make it comfortable to walk, my legs are always very sensitive to touch, I get bruises very easily, I always wear sleeves on my arms because I have so much loose skin on my upper arm.
“I decided to embrace it when I realised that this is who I am and if I don’t love myself, no one else will.
“I’ve always kind of embraced the fact that I’m big even though I’ve always been really self-conscious of it. No one really knew when I was a teenager – my dad told me that even if you don’t feel confident, fake it because eventually you’ll start believing it and so will everyone else.
“The lipoedema community on Instagram is amazing and so helpful, and so willing to answer questions and awareness. I love those ladies.
“Honestly, I have been very lucky that I haven’t been matched up with a lot of trolls on my Instagram.
“I have to say probably ninety-five per cent of my comments are the most positive, rewarding, and complimentary. Every once in a while, I’m faced with someone who is close minded or just an internet bully and honestly, those people are either having a really bad day or they’re just not happy with themselves.
“Men are very supportive, telling me I’m beautiful the way I am and to keep being me, I appreciate every compliment. It let’s me know I’m on the right path.”
Heather has an incredible 498K followers on Instagram under the handle @heatherj.143 where she shares her positive message.
“My message to the world is to spread love and stop judging people for who they are, what they are, or how they feel, also believe in yourself,” said Heather.
“It’s never too late to follow your dreams, you’re never too old, you’re never too big, you’re never too anything to just wake up every day and follow every dream that you have.
“I am hoping to bring more light upon this very understudied condition and also help others accept and live who they are.
“People need to love themselves and remember they are amazing and perfect the way they are.
“I want to show them they can be bold and beautiful. That they can wear that dress, that bikini, and that sexy piece of lingerie.”