As the number of plastic surgeries performed each year continues to rise, the body-positive community has been buzzing about cosmetic procedures: Are they an empowering choice, or a way to cover up insecurities? When fitness influencer and Blogilates founder Cassey Ho referred to her one-time wish for breast implants on Instagram last week, we had to learn more about her take.
A little background: Ho's #ThrowbackThursday post provided a glimpse at her bikini competition days. The photo, taken in 2012, shows Ho and three other bronzed women clad in tiny swimsuits.
In the caption, Ho writes that she noticed that day that the women who placed in the top five all had one thing in common: breast implants. "[I]t led me to believe that if I wanted to be a winner, I'd need to get breast implants too," she wrote. "The problem was…the reason for changing my body wasn't for myself. I wanted to change my body for a panel of judges I didn't even know."
Ho didn't end up going through with the plastic surgery she so desperately wanted. In an interview with Health, she explained that she decided to move on from bikini competitions when she realized she had lost her passion for exercise. "I was only working out to see physical results, that was it," she says. "Working out for vanity isn't going to fulfill your soul."
So Ho returned to the physical activities she used to love: dancing and pilates. And since then her joy and enthusiasm for fitness has attracted some 1.4 million followers on Instagram and 3.8 million subscribers on YouTube.
WATCH: Cassey Ho's 7-Move Total Body Workout[brightcove:4639742909001 default]
While she's no longer interested in plastic surgery herself, Ho believes the decision to have a cosmetic procedure is entirely personal. As she wrote on Instagram, "100% do it if it's for you." But if you're doing it to try to please someone else, think twice, she warns. "Changing you body to make someone else happy is a NO-NO."
In our interview, Ho went on urge celebrities and other influencers to disclose any work they've had done, since the effects can have such a powerful effect on young women in the age of social media. "If you take a selfie and say it's a no-makeup selfie, some girl is going to look at that and be like, Oh my god, I'll never look like that, even if you've had fillers and injections," she explains. "Especially with a group of young women still figuring out what makes them beautiful and confident, it's important to disclose the truth. Just say it and own it if you do get [a cosmetic procedure]."
And for anyone looking for a way to feel more confident without going under the knife, Ho suggests shifting your focus from how you look to what you can do: "What makes me confident is when I'm working on something and get better and better at it…. It's being able to practice and refine a skill that builds that confident feeling."
Ho also recommends making a similar mental shift when it comes to your fitness. Rather than targeting a number on the scale or a specific physical change (say, a six-pack), choose strength and endurance goals, such as holding a plank for a full minute, for example, or beating your 3-mile PR. You'll be more likely to reach your goals, she says. "Plus it makes the journey more fun, too."