I could say a lot of things about this taboo topic of body image.
I say taboo because no one likes to bring it up.
Everyone talks about it.
Everyone thinks about it.
But are we real about what goes on? Do we let people openly discuss their struggles....
From my experience there is a missing link between what we see on social media and the reality of bullying that is taking place ..... telling people they don’t look good, or the opposite, telling someone they like the way they look in a sexually harassing and abusive way.... this is all still body image bullying and leads to insecurities and unhealthy habits towards LOVING our bodies.
Social media has totally altered our ideas of body image and what the norm is. It has altered our idea of what is socially acceptable, partially because people can hide behind their device and say what they want as a bully.... And I have experienced it all. I was just in Europe traveling around the world while an older man was abusively sending me comments from behind his screen at home about how I have no life and no one cares about my fitness pics. Rather ironic don't you think?
That being said it also opens up the floor to timid people (myself included when it comes to some personal things) and lets them post and open up and not think about the fear or what they are really doing. I'm guilty of not always sharing the full story sometimes. I don't like to dive too deep into what I've gone through and I prefer to instead lift other people up, let them be happy and confident so they can avoid what I have and do still face.
However in social media now we see more and more people wanting what's REAL. They want to know the details of what I've been through to be able to relate.
I've been through my fair share of body image issues.
I have fluctuated in weight my entire life. I was never over weight but I've been very skinny. I used to think it was cool. That it was what was attractive. That boys thought it was attractive. That my clothes looked better. That my mind was more clear. That food was the enemy. Calories were the enemy. I was high off of hunger.
If I am going to open up to this, I wont stop here. This won't be my only body image post, because there is a lot more of the story trust me… and a lot more to speak about, but I remember one moment like it was yesterday. I came in from school in New York. I was at one of thinnest I had even been... I met friends in New York who thought the same way I did. No food. Hit the gym for 2hrs of elliptical a day. Walk every chance you get. Avoid calories. Eat sugar free. Walk more and look up Pro Ana blogs. Yes thats a thing. Every single girl who has been seriously sick knows it's a big thing on the internet. Especially about 5 years ago when blogging was really taking off.... That there are tons of blogs and Tumblrs with pictures of anorexic girls... anyone who has been through something similar knows this outlet. In fact they speak about it in the new Netflix movie "To The Bone" which I was surprised about! I spent hours looking at “thinspiration" and listening to skinny love by Bon Iver.... just for the full dramatic effect. Ha! It was the rebirth of my deep tortured teenage soul… except I was 19 and living on my own in NYC with the control to eat and do as I pleased.
So one weekend I came back and I saw my boyfriend who lived in Montreal. I hadn't seen him in a few weeks and I remember he was sitting down at the front door of his parents house and tying his shoe and just looked at me and said, "babe your legs look really thin". My reaction was to almost cry in joy, WHAT A COMPLIMENT. The man I loved thought my legs looked AMAZING. I blushed saying thank you. And he said to me, no like sick skinny. Too skinny. I laughed and said haha no they are finally starting to look nice from all the walking in NYC. But he had used the word you avoided like the plague when you have any type of body image addiction or ED.... "Sick".
I loved that kid so much back then. It still seems strange to me that I never thought maybe if the person I was drop everything in the world for crazy about thought I looked too thin I should reconsider my habits.... but… thats eating disorder mentality. Thats what happens. You love thin more than you love anything else. More than you love being alive. And the worst part is that never ever ever leaves you.... as an example, you can quit smoking and be smoke free for years and on the regular look at smokers and cigarettes and think gross how did I once love that, but yet sometimes somehow you feel you could just die for one puff. Its very similar. Its the mental health side of addiction....
One moment of feeling so small and so thin... and you need it. Many of you I hope have never experienced this in the life…. but there are a lot of girls (and guys!) who go through this same process. This mentally is or was the norm in their life. I'm writing this for them. I'm writing this for my younger self. And every younger girl who follows me and reads this in hopes that they will realize that strong, powerful muscles, are beautiful.
Loving yourself is really hard in 2017.
It seems like everything is pointing in the other direction. To better yourself. To be an entrepreneur and to look amazing every day. To have full control of your own life. It shuns those who don't. Those who don't look good or get enough likes. We live in a world that is based on physical attributes and a world that is product driven.
Yes the models used to be sticky skinny and now the era of the ass has arrived... which too has it's ups and downs. And yes it was not realistic that anything would fit us the way it did a 5’10 - 100 pound model, but guess what... Now all we see are real people … some who genetically are hella blessed (god damn) and don't have to work as hard for their physical attributes. I swear some of these kids must pop out with abs already…. I came out with huge calfs over here haha... Which is my physical attribute I've hated my whole life but was also one of the most attractive features that brought me a man I dated later in life…. never over look anything ;)! Social media absolutely makes it so difficult to love your own body for what it is.
Everyone sees beauty differently. Yes there are norms set out by social for what is beautiful and those gradually change over time and evolve… like fashion. But the real issue is that social media body image norms are ruining relationships, mental stability and ultimately lives.... we have to understand that everyone has their own taste and preference. So being skinny means what then…. or not having a big ass and big lips means what... what are you left with? I'm not saying that trying to achieve what you feel is beautiful is wrong... or getting your lips done is wrong... because trust me I am the first person to say its fabulous if it makes YOU feel great and you are doing it for YOU. But dont be doing anything for social media trolls!
I don't have an answer to any of this but I think there is a lot that can be spoken about body image and the insecurities caused from the "norms" of digital. I post daily selfies at the gym... showing what I'm doing, my cute work out clothes of the day... but then when I post a fitness picture of my body, I hope people don't disregard the amount of gym selfies taken. I worked for that. You can work for that too. And NO my body is NOT perfect. Not in my eyes... not in anyones eyes. But I certainly did not just turn into this fitness driven person who loves their body over night. Physically its been a lot of work and mentally even more.
I think that the opportunity to start shifting people's minds through conversation about body image. About confidence. ABOUT beauty and that shape is good... Ultimately taking care of yourself will bring you to your optimal beauty. Your body wants nothing but health and health is beauty. It's clear skin. Strong muscles. It's no bags and dark circles. It’s strong nails and un broken hair. It's hearing that beat right.... That can push you through spin class. It's the sweat pouring out of your pores as you detox. It's the gym. It's the grocery store. Its picking healthy restaurant and healthy options.
There is a future for every person who has struggled with body image. There is a way to get stronger and more confident but you have to listen to what you want, not social media. You have to feed the good. Feed your body with the good. You have to find outlets to discuss what you are going through and we have to make it less taboo. We have to stop bullying and saying negative things about ourselves and others. We have to realize its hard work and that even when you look at someone like me.... who's lively hood is based on being "fit" I too struggled and do continue to struggle just like you.