Critics on social media claimed Simone Anderson’s dramatic, 11-month body transformation wasn’t real.

Her before-and-after pictures are seriously inspirational. Eleven months ago, Auckland, New Zealand–based hairdresser and makeup artist Simone Anderson weighed 373 pounds and decided to get serious about her health. She cut out processed foods, had gastric sleeve stomach surgery, and began walking for an hour every day. She also began documenting her journey on her Instagram account and Facebook page, posting pics of grueling 5 a.m. workout sessions and healthy meals.

Motivational Weight Loss StoryBut last week, after Anderson shared a snap celebrating reaching her goal weight of 184 pounds, people began leaving her cruel comments on social media saying that she had faked her physical transformation. “People just couldn’t believe it was the same person,” Anderson said. “They tried to rip me to shreds.”

That’s when she decided to share a before-and-after shot that reveals one of the challenges people who lose lots of weight often have to deal with: loose skin.

“Every single comment that called me out for being fake and a liar really bothered me far more than it should,” Anderson wrote in the Instagram pic’s caption. “I think it’s because it took hours of crying and debating whether to share my story online and for others to see; posting the first picture online along with my weight for the world to see was the hardest thing I have ever done.”

Commenters who weigh about the same as Anderson complained that they don’t have the same shapely figure and called her a “trickster.” Some people didn’t believe the “after” photo was of Anderson because the phone she was taking selfies with was different from the one she used at the start of her journey. Others complained that her hair and skin color had changed, or that the background of her home wasn’t the same. But, Anderson explained, she merely got a new phone and moved to a different home, and as a hairstylist and makeup artist, she changes her look frequently.

The number of obese people around the world doubled between 1980 and 2014, according to the World Health Organization’s Global Status Report. More than 600 million adults are obese, and another 2 billion are overweight, so it’s commendable that Anderson bucked the trend and worked so hard to get healthy.

But more than two-thirds of people who drop such a significant amount of weight are left with loose, stretched skin. Anderson lifts weights, but no amount of pumping iron can cause skin that’s been significantly expanded by excess pounds to snap back completely, which can negatively affect confidence and contribute to people regaining weight.

The loose skin also sometimes leads to incidents of body shaming. Last year, after blogger Brooke Birmingham dropped 172 pounds, Shape magazine reached out, interested in featuring her as a Success Story. But according to Birmingham, after she sent the editor who contacted her a bikini picture that revealed loose skin similar to Anderson’s, the magazine asked her for an image in which her body was covered up.

After she posted the photo showing her loose skin, some of Anderson’s 56,000 Facebook fans and 16,000 Instagram followers asked her if they could help out with the cost of skin-removal surgery. Anderson set up a crowdfunding page, and people have donated more than $2,300 toward the estimated $20,000 expense.

Anderson told she has dealt with the mean comments about her weight loss and body by “reminding myself I had done it and done it for me and no one else.” She’s also setting a new fitness goal for herself: running a marathon.

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Critics on social media claimed Simone Anderson’s dramatic, 11-month body transformation wasn’t real. Her before-and-after pictures are seriously inspirational. Eleven months ago, Auckland, New Zealand–based hairdresser and makeup artist Simone Anderson weighed 373 pounds and decided to get serious about her health. She cut out processed foods, had gastric sleeve stomach...