A teenager in the 90’s, I was heavily influenced by the trends of the era.
In adoration of long-haired rock gods, skulking around to grunge music, and with a tendency to live in jeans and flannelette shirts (an accompaniment to my long, greasy hair, pale skin), I measured myself against the images I saw in teen magazines and on music video clips. And I didn’t measure up. Not in my eyes. And that belief lasted well into my 30’s.
As a society, we’ve had an unhealthy obsession with weight and the size of our clothes which has carried us through the Twiggy era, the supermodel obsessed 80’s, the grunge ‘heroin’ chic 90’s and beyond. So it’s refreshing to see a shift towards models of all sizes, increasing diversity in advertising, the move against photo-shopping, and the embracing of a healthy mind and body over BMI and body weight.
However, it still feels like we’re surrounded by picture perfect preachy people.
There’s the flawless health gurus and wellness coaches espousing the benefits of clean eating, wholesome / rawsome food, and healthy ‘lifestyle’ changes. Promising a healthier and happier life, and obtaining the body and life I’ve always dreamt of, what is there not to want?
And then there’s the people encouraging us to embrace our flaws.
I’ve even preached that myself and it now makes me sick.
I mean, whose place is it to say any of us are flawed?
Aren’t we all perfect, just the way we are? Regardless of what we look like, the shape we are, our colour, cellulite, stretch marks, acne…you get the picture?
Over the last few years I toyed with becoming a wellness / health coach. I even studied to become a life coach.
The thing is, it just didn’t sit right with me.
I just didn’t feel qualified enough.
And I liked sugar, glutenous goodness, and carbs. My bad! [Believe me, I went there. After numerous eating plans and elimination diets, I realised it wasn’t the food that was making me ill, it was the stress. True story.]
I didn’t feel like I fit the mould.
I mean, words like ‘goddess’, ‘sisterhood’, ‘find your glow’, and ‘tribe’ didn’t roll off my tongue easily. They just felt … wanky … As did attending ‘love fests’ with change makers and thought leaders and gurus from across the globe . Most of the time I bowed out feeling like I used to in high school. The shy unpopular kid. Not pretty enough. Not quirky enough. Not outgoing enough.
My life, as well as my mind and body, it wasn’t exactly picture perfect.
After becoming an official Body Image Ambassador around October 2016, I went from being on a high to losing my confidence and feeling really shitty about myself. My acne was back, I’d put on weight, I was stressed and tired, and I just didn’t feel good enough, inspirational enough, or pretty enough. I was so not body positive. Which I guess is why I’ve pulled back over the last 6 months or so. How could I preach to others, project images of beauty, wellness, and perfection, when I was still working on myself, had acne, cellulite, a bloated belly, and more? Who was I to preach?
There’s a lesson to be learned in that.
Don’t compromise yourself. You’re all you’ve got.
All of the research and reading I was doing, following inspirational people. I allowed it to get to my head, and as I’ve learned it’s not such a pretty picture when you delve into what lies behind the perfect pictures on Instagram, the wellness gurus and the amazing before/after photos.
There’s the competition, the copycats, the MLM schemes.
There’s the affiliate programs, buying followers, and ghost-bloggers.
And then there’s the hours that go in to the perfect shot for Instagram. The time it takes to prepare for the photo shoot – hair, makeup, outfits, food plating, lighting, etc.
Oh, and don’t forget the numbers of photos required to get that perfect shot!
Hell, that ain’t reality!
Reality is real life and real life can be perfect at one time and a total mess the next, involving laughter and tears and everything in between.
In reality, I have 5 bad hair days out of 7, 1 clear skin day a month, and feel exhausted more often than not. It also takes me a bare minimum of 7 photos to take a good selfie, and even then it’s probably just average (without a filter).
And I may seem to have energy, as I do a lot and help a lot of people and seem to be incredibly active on social media depending on what hat I’m wearing on any particular day. And when I’m not working, when I’m not active on social media, I’m napping or feeling dog-tired and in need of a nap.
For most of last year I just worked, worked, worked. 7 days a week, nights even. Making coffee, frying chips, washing dishes, and just working hard to keep my head above water. Juggling 2-3 jobs and a business, I didn’t have much time for anything or anyone. I just pulled on my big girl panties and did what I needed to do. Hubby was in and out of work. And I was steadfast in my stance that I would NOT return to the corporate world.
But I missed spending valuable time with my family, and then, towards the end of last year, my step-dad died, and yes, that eats me up. Ugh.
On the flip-side, we’re coming through it, and my business is growing, as is my work within the not-for-profit space, which makes my heart sing. I actually feel like I am in the right place at the right time. I also feel that I am finally doing what I want to do – and not what others want me to do.
So remember, the next time you’re flicking through your social feeds, that social media can be a real head f$%k.
And remember NOT to compromise yourself.
Hell, it’s so easy to do. But it can really get in the way of living life you the way YOU want to.
Stay true to yourself. The rest will follow. I promise. And it will be beautiful… with the occasional storm cloud and rainy day (as that’s life 🙂 ).
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