I feel very strongly about body images issues.
As a woman who was overweight for most of her life, I have my fair share of experience being teased about my weight, hating my body, and obsessing over every single thing I consumed.
I am a twenty-five-year-old woman who is still very young in a lot of ways with much learning left to do, but a woman who has had enough experiences in life to know the value of it.
And the value of life exceeds far beyond your love handles.
I remember when I was in 9th grade and I discovered Facebook. At the time, I was still all about the Top 8 on Myspace (which, let’s just get this out of the way, was a total shit show and an intentional way to hurt people’s feelings) and Facebook was more for college kids, so I left it alone for awhile.
Eventually, I signed up for Facebook, as did most, and then Instagram and Twitter and LinkedIn soon followed. Before I knew it, social media had become the number one thing happening in people’s lives.
You’d go out to dinner with your friends and talk about the latest picture Whatshername McWho posted on Instagram.
You’d be sitting around a bonfire with your family during Christmas only to be scrolling through Facebook reading everyone’s “Merry Christmas! So blessed to be with family this year!” posts.
Hell, you’d be ON A DATE and checking Twitter every time your date had to go to the rest room, which, for one, is a huge sign you two just will not work out. Either they don’t like you and are escaping to hide in a public bathroom for a bit, or they have a really weak bladder, which just ain’t gonna work because of how funny you are. And ain’t nobody got time for that.
Perhaps it’s just that I’m getting older, or perhaps I’m finally done occasionally feeling like shit about who I am and where I am in life, but my God, I am so sick of social media.
I firmly believe social media has a time and place. For starters, it’s an excellent way to pass the time when you’re using the restroom. Don’t even pretend like you don’t do it.
Social media is also a great way to promote your brand (like my page on FB!), catch up with long distance family and friends, and view cat memes.
Social media is not the place where we should put any stock into our self-worth, because you are guaranteed to get crushed… and that’s the part that I’m sick of.
The comparison of it all.
The not feeling good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, rich enough, smart enough…
Enough, enough, enough.
I have fallen down the social media hole time and time again sifting through images of strangers’ perfect lives, and when I snap back to reality, I feel inadequate.
Like, I’m fine and dandy living my life and going about my business, but five minutes deep into a strangers’ Instagram account, and suddenly I question my self-worth.
Since when is it okay to feel bad about ourselves based on how other people live their lives? We are all doing the best we can, so when we look at Whatshername McWho’s Instagram account and she’s eating an acai bowl on the beaches of Bali and we compare ourselves to that, it is a recipe for complete and total unhappiness.
Also, ACAI ISN’T EVEN THAT GOOD.
First of all, Ms. McWho is not a millionaire who lives off of sunlight and superfoods. She burps, she poops, and she came out of someone’s hooha just like we all did, so why in God’s sweet precious baby name are we comparing ourselves to her? Since when is this lady so important to us that we want to be like her?
It’s not just women who battle with this. It’s guys too.
If you look up to The Rock, I support that. He seems well-rounded, humble, and super fun. But please don’t ever compare yourselves to him. The Rock guy gets paid to sleep for four hours a night and work out for three hours a day and eat only chicken and drink whey shakes. You don’t. There’s a difference.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have role models. We should. We should have one million role models! But why are the people we look up to chosen based on their looks?
“Ugh, I wish I had her hair.”
“Ugh, I wish I had his body.”
“Ugh, I wish I had her flawless skin.”
It breaks my heart. It breaks my heart for those who never feel good enough, and it breaks my heart because it used to be me.
I used to not feel good enough, and sometimes I still don’t. It’s a daily battle to remind myself not to compare myself to the woman who is an ophthalmologist because I’m not an ophthalmologist. I have never IN MY LIFE wanted that career, so why am I comparing myself to someone who does?
Not everyone wants my career, and I would laugh in someone’s face if they beat themselves up over not being an actor/writer/teacher combo when their heart lies in personal training. You know what I mean?
I was looking back on pictures from my Ireland trip and was filled to the brim with happiness because it was the trip of a lifetime…and then I remember how, while I was there, I had anxiety over the amount of Guinness I drank and Irish soda bread I ate, because it would make me fat.
As if ‘fat’ is a bad word and as if eating bread and drinking beer while on vacation should be on the forefront of my mind.
It broke my heart into one million pieces.
When we become consumed with appearances of ourselves and compare it to others, we lose sight of what’s truly important in life and of the present moment we’re in.
How heartbreaking would it be to look back on these years when you’re old and gray and only remember how hard you were on yourself?
I will never, ever be Whatshername McWho. One, I don’t even know if that’s a real person, and two, I won’t ever be her because I am me. Simple enough.
You will never be The Rock because the idea of waking up at 4am to hit the gym makes you want to curl up in the fetal position and cry, and bro, I feel you. That shit’s early.
If there’s anything you takeaway from these years of your life, your 20s and 30s and maybe even 40s, it’s that there is absolutely nothing wrong with how you are today. Right this very second.
Does your arm jiggle when you shake it? That’s good. That means you have skin on your arm and you need it.
Do you have a double chin when you throw your head back and laugh? Good! Rock it, because you’re laughing. You’re happy.
Do you deadlift heavier than your bodyweight at the gym, yet compare yourself to the size zero girl on the elliptical? Stop doing that. You’re two different kinds of athletes, and if you peddled away on a cardio machine for hours a week, you wouldn’t have that bangin’ ass and strong thighs that help you move that weight.
From the first time I was called fat in first grade to age twenty-three, I treated my body horribly. I didn’t feed it enough, I overexercised, I told myself I was ugly. I wreaked havoc on myself mentally and physically. How unfair is that?
Today, as I sit here at the age of twenty-five, who is still very young in a lot of ways with much learning left to do, I vow to end that abusive cycle between me and myself.
I encourage you to do the same.
Although we have a lot to learn, we have enough experiences to know the value of life, so it’s time we start valuing it.
We’re worth more than the number on the scale.
We’re worth everything.