Yesterday, I mistakenly did something I haven't done in a really really long time. I compared myself to another woman. By no means am I related to this person in any way. Aside from being raised in Orange County, she and I have never officially met. However, before bed yesterday night, I happened to do my random surfing through Instagram when I saw a photo of her dead-lifting. Curious as to who she was (like that would make any difference), I began to scroll down her page. It wasn't long before I had a change in mood and I was longer in the right mindset to sleep.
"She squats heavier weights than I do." "Her abs are more defined." "How do I even get my hips to pop out like that?"
Questions after questions kept rushing through--all of which demonstrated my self-doubt and insecurities. These were feelings that were all too strange to me. But as I furthered immersed with the experience of Instagram-surfing, I quickly realized that this unexplainable feeling has brought down my spirit tremendously. Now I didn't look at this stranger as a girl that I wanted to be. Instead, I looked at her and recognized her as everything that I am not. Stronger, fitter, etc.
"What is happening to me?" I thought to myself. "Why am I feeling this way?" And that's when it hit me. I, for the first time since high school, am conducting self-loathing and body shaming--two things I'd never advocate. As a strong believer in loving myself for all that I am, I learned through this experience that I also need to love myself for all that I am not. Altogether, it was an uncomfortable experience and I could only image what other girls are going through each and every single day.
A couple of weeks ago, my mother and I went out for lunch when she was talking to me about an article that she saw online. The article touched base on the effects of self-image on models and how it led to the death of countless of women within the industry. Curious as to what they looked like, I asked her to show me the page and there it was. Photos upon photos of beautiful models before they were merely skin and bones. After looking at a couple of them, I told my mother to put it away because I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't stand the thought of some beautiful human being passing away because she didn't feel like she was good enough.
But you know what? Having these type of insecurities just brought me closer to those girls I saw in the photographs and moreover, it brought me closer to the friends (I know) who are suffering from such body-related issues. In a way, however, I wanted to look at this sense of vulnerability as an act of humility. Writer and activist, Stephen Fry, said in one of his books that "these devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter, and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me."
“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” ~Vincent Van Gogh
With that said, after fifteen minutes of pure agony, I closed up the Instagram application and told myself that I wasn't going to allow myself to sleep tonight if I didn't feel good and happy. Thus, I opened up one of my favorite blogs and began to do what I love: I read. Fifteen minutes later, I passed out like a baby.
I was debating for a while if I should write about an experience that was somewhat unusual for me, but then I decided that these are discussions that I should not avoid since they're real and they matter. The effects media has played on my life has been extremely beneficial and positive, so far (hence, why I am pursuing such career) . I also firmly believe that it could be used in a way to not only assert power but influence upon the youth generation. However, it is also productive for me to recognize that media effects vary among individuals and yesterday night gave me my very first taste of bitterness and self deprecation. And for all the ladies out there who find themselves hating their bodies or the way that they look like, I hope that you all can look deep deep down and reflect on the unique qualities that make you invincible. For me, I just feel extremely grateful to be alive, healthy, and strong. Yes, I may not be able to add on two extra plates (for now), but I've come along way since my two pound weights and I am proud to recognize that.
So here is me telling you that you have so much to offer to this world and that these media-based perspectives should not define you. Take charge of your own life and reclaim the joys that come with loving yourself in your entirety--flaws and all.
I highly recommend you listening to this beautiful song by Colbie Caillat. It's called, 'Try.'