From profile pic, bebo, myspace and even facehood (if you were ghetto enough) we have seen social media go from the random chat rooms place with video space to upload your favourite music video (that you had also recorded to use as your ring tone) to this huge part of our lives where nothing seems worth it unless you can facebook it, tweet it and gram it.
Since using social media more heavily and almost as some-what of a business platform I have been studying what people do, how they do it, what they say, the reactions they get and what I found surprised me. The ages of the users have got younger, the influence heavier and the right to “post what you like” being advocated more than ever. Individually these all may seem ok but when you combine the three it suddenly becomes life threatening. Literally.
I started using instagram when I wanted to simply promote my blog and post shameless selfies but I began to use it as my motivational tool for my weight loss and it was here that my eyes were opened to a world of body shaming, distorted self-image and low selfesteem. We all know the hashtags for the weekdays! Monday through Thursday we are posting pics and hash tagging till our hearts content but its Tuesdays hashtag that worried me the most.
The hashtag that should encourage, motivate and inspire but instead it can be filled with body shaming, self-loathing and negativity.
I got into the hashtag and posted a few pics, until I realised it made me negative about who I “have been” who I “Was” and my “before picture”. I found it so easy to put myself down, point out and highlight what I believed to be flaws and then compare myself to where I am now, quickly forgetting that the horrible things people would say about me that tore me down I was now saying to myself, about me.
I would look at others girl’s transformation pics and read the caption, how horrible they would be to themselves and how “great” life is now they are “skinny”. Really? I mean Realllly? Now don’t get me wrong, being healthy is so very important and should be widely encouraged but you will NOT suddenly find happiness in a pair of size 6 skinny jeans.
I would almost chuckle when looking at some before pictures and think “that’s my goal” lol It took me a while to get my head round why some people were even attempting to lose at all when they were already the size of my left thigh; but I took a step back and accepted we are all on different journeys and have different goals and that’s absolutely ok. I had to learn slowly that knocking a skinny girl wouldn’t make me slimmer, questioning her or being jealous wasn’t going to help me. But my journey wasn’t just one of losing the pounds it was about losing the self-loathing I had put myself through for so long and learning to love myself
My instagram is set to private for a number of reasons but one is that I tend to have a look at the profile of people who have added me prior to accepting (just to weed out any psychos as I post pictures of my child etc) and I noticed some of my followers were getting younger and younger. I then realised I needed to change. Now this isn’t about changing who I am and controlling my posting so that I was portraying a life that wasn’t true but it was about ensuring I was giving these young girls the right message, I was encouraging and inspiring them to have a healthy body image and that started by me stopping myself from being negative about my pics, whether they were “before” or “now”.
There is a young girl, a woman, a mother, a sister, a daughter who is looking at your pics and comparing herself to you; maybe even relating or seeing a body similar to hers in your “before” picture and you are saying how awful you look, how horrible, how “fat” how “disgusting”. Indirectly; you are telling her she is all those things too.
Now I am not saying lie and pretend you were happy at a time you weren’t, that would be dishonest, but I have preached it on my page and will continue to say it, find something positive about your pictures, explain how you felt, maybe you were unhappy and it’s your human right to feel however you so wish but don’t slate yourself, don’t body shame.
I want to run and cover my eyes when I see girls with 50 THOUSAND and more follower’s body shaming and saying negative things about themselves or other images they have posted. Young women who have the power to influence, to encourage and inspire change. Who have been blessed and lucky enough to gain a following where they are in a position to teach and educate others about their journey. It is such an amazing position to be put in I worry for the girls who have no idea what they are doing. That their negativity is upsetting someone; that their body shaming is telling someone else that how they look is not ok.
My journey is far from over, I still have to encourage and inspire myself to remember the positives, to advocate change in my own life before I can expect to do that in others. I don’t know all the answers and I am no expert on social media, I have a humble 5k in followers (still so surprised I even got that far to be honest) and I will do what I can to ensure if even one of those people will read a post and realise just even a little bit how beautiful they are then I am doing what I aim to.
It takes a long time before you wake up every day just being grateful and loving your-self unconditionally. I struggle all the time but I can’t explain just how worthwhile it is to see yourself in a positive way. Do not allow yourself to believe that you started your journey because you hated yourself so much but in actual fact it was because you loved yourself enough to make a change. Feeling positive about yourself doesn’t always come with loosing 100lbs but it is a choice you decide to make every single day you wake up, before your journey, during and after.
From experience, you can lose your weight and get to goal but I am telling you now, if you don’t love yourself unconditionally from the start and learn that you are beautiful then no weight loss, no surgery and no amount of physical change will make you feel it. Weight loss can come with loose skin, the stretch marks don’t always disappear and if your boobs are anything like mine they seem to understand the concept of gravity far too well. If I didn’t make a choice to love all those things despite what may appear to society as “flaws” then I would be in the position I was at the beginning and would be no where better off.
I looked at who I was following and if they were making me feel inferior, I stopped following all these beautiful women until I realised for them to make me feel inferior in the first place, I would have to give them consent. I would have to be feeling a certain way about myself already for them to even be able to get to me by doing nothing other than being themselves. I realised that I needed to seek out for some positive body images, women who weren’t afraid of who they are, women who would teach me lessons, who would inspire me to learn to love me for me and to embrace my imperfections as they made me who I am. Woman who embraced and loved their lines, their curves, their bodies. Who promoted self-love, body confidence and were handing out permission slips to everyone to love themselves. I wanted to be surrounded by these women because I wanted to be one of them. I came across some of the most amazing women, some celebrities and others just regular women, mothers, girlfriends and wives who promote change and are unapologetically themselves. @curvaliciousgirl @healthyhappy_Chelsey @bodyposipanda @jaydabeau @stefania_model @tessholliday @asialovemusiq
These are simply to name a few of the women who make me know its ok to be me.
I started my #flauntyyourflaws campaign because I was sick of us body shaming. I didn’t want to gain followers or make myself popular, I simply wanted to help someone. I was sick of reading captions of women apologising for their pictures, for their bodies; for being perfectly imperfect. I wanted us to pick the things we deemed as “flaws” and to turn them around TO educate ourselves on what is “beautiful” rather than the ideas society has attempted to drum into us.
Like I said, I don’t have all the answers. I am not sure if I am doing everything right and there is so much that I don’t know but what I do know is that I won’t stop trying. I won’t stop trying to make people realise just how beautiful they truly are. Every line, roll, curve, line, scar, discoloration, spot, dimple and “flaw”. I will preach it, I will make myself vulnerable, I will tell my story and I will do my hardest to practise what I preach so that others may wake up loving themselves a little bit more each day.
We all have a role to play in this social media madness and I just hope those in a position to make change are a using it wisely and being a responsible adult.
Thanks for stopping by x
The Fat Funny One x
P.S Everybody is beautiful and every body is beautiful