Now, I am not one to “Keep up with the Kardashians,” but I am one to follow Jameela Jamil. She is a warrior for inclusivity and authenticity. Jamil posted this on her Instagram page a few days ago:
I don’t know why this hit me so hard, but it did. At first I was all “get over it, Khloe.” Then I remembered all the times I’ve cringed at photos, untagged myself in photos, etc. Social media is tricky that way.
I have often opted to post shots of myself that were “flattering.” However, I also know other people take pictures that include me and those pics are… less awesome? Ha! I have worked REALLY hard the past few years to not politely ask my husband to not upload pictures where I am shown from a weird angle. This “work” is because being a human is hard enough without worrying that an unflattering picture exists- especially when the rest of the world does not think said photo is unflattering.
I saw the “unfiltered photo” that Khloe wanted removed. She looked legit, but due to body dysmorphia (takes one to know one, Khloe) and her penchant for filtering/editing a normal picture- her brain deemed that picture bad or unacceptable. Authenticity be damned.
Now there’s a point to be made that all of us should get to choose how we present ourself to the world. I prefer to have makeup on. Spoiler alert: my hair is not actually red. It is “mousy brown.” Well…. it was mousy brown, now it is mousy brown peppered with shiny grays. It happens.
I love Instagram and I love a filter, especially when my aforementioned roots are cray. But this editing does result in a potential sacrifice of authenticity and sends a message to the ourselves: I’ll be/look better if…
Jamil’s Instagram post got me thinking. We live in Texas, which is basically living on the sun in July and August. Every time the weather turns and it starts to creep into the 70s, then 80s, women across planet Earth collectively sigh and worry about “summer bodies.” No one would complain about having Khloe’s unfiltered “summer body.” But she didn’t want that particular view/angle/untouched pic to be be shared. And I am not going to share it. You do you, girl. That said, this is the time of year where women cringe in anticipation of warmer weather and fewer layers.
Men deal with this too, btw. This is not a gendered response, but I identify as female. If you are a dude, I recommend that you listen to Armchair Expert’s episode called Men’s Bodies. The episode covers body image issues, body dysmorphia, and three famous dudes celebrating the male form. It is hilarious and also covers body image for men, which is rare to experience. If you’re a babe, it is still awesome. Listen to it.
If you haven’t caught on yet, this blog post I will not talk about food. Amazing recipes will pop up next week like a patch of bluebonnets on I-35. In this post I will share four thoughts I have about all of this from a female lens.
One: We ALL deserve to feel comfortable
So… it is getting warm here already. Running outside can be hard. I always wanted to run with Sportsbra Squad ATX because I thought it was such a cool movement. But, before moving away from TX for a year, I was stuck thinking “I’m not ready yet.” Not ready running-wise… I thought I wasn’t “sports bra ready.”
Yep… you read that correctly. I thought to myself “I’m not physically fit enough to join an inclusive body neutral movement where women wear what is most comfortable in the heat.”
That is a terrible lens to view the world. I love when I see people comfortable with who they are. As someone who took nearly 40 years to get there, I am not leaving. Flag planted. Here I am, y’all. And you might see my belly button (that was a joke I would tell my husband: “this summer strangers will know I have an innie.” I also just googled innie to see if there was a better term. A full page of innies and outies, y’all).
Anyways, I am working on changing that whole “not yet” narrative. My body is strong. It can run longer distances than it used to and it can deadlift over 100 pounds. It also feels too hot with clothing intended to cover it up for the sake of covering it up.
So now my neighbors know that I have an innie. 🙂
I should add that when I ran in my sports bra it was warm. But I also made sure I was wearing a flattering outfit. Because this shit never stops, it seems. Jeez Louise. Baby steps.
Two: Just wear the damn thing.
When I was in high school I always wanted to wear the spaghetti strap dress over a t-shirt. Total 90s vibe. But I did not feel like I had the right body shape for it. Jon and I watched Derry Girls on Netflix, which has high school girls who were growing up in the 90s. I kept seeing that look and was jealous. Because somehow I STILL can’t wear it?!
SO. DUMB. Just wear the damn thing.
I did and it was cute! I felt the same way about a crop top. First, I was afraid to wear a crop. Then I was okay to stand in a crop, but did not want to sit because… bodies squish? Here I am squished, covered in rainbows, and I survived.
Just. Wear. The. Damn. Thing.
Three: Listen to Jonah Hill
I love Jonah Hill’s journey. He has really found what makes him happy the past few years: directing, fashion, surfing. It is inspiring. But this post meant so much to me.
I’ll let him speak for himself here:
Love you too, Jonah.
I was also taken aback by this next post, which bolsters my stance that we were likely our truest self as a child. What I mean is that over time our truest self is chipped away. This is due to societal norms, peer pressure, self-esteem issues, etc. Kind of a gut punch, right?
Look at Jonah celebrating that his truest self is finally free:
Four: Surround yourself with people, art, accounts that make you feel good.
This sounds silly, but it is true. You get to have some control over your social media and what you consume. My feed was mostly runners and food and academics.
One day I followed a Austin gal who dressed really cute and had a similar body shape- why not score some cool ideas? She labeled herself as “mid size.” I did not realize that there was a term “mid size,” which refers to curvy people who are not plus size, but aren’t Kate Moss either. I have several mid-size accounts in my feed and it brings me so much joy. I cannot tell you how lovely it is to see bodies like mine, and bodies that aren’t like mine, trying out cool clothes or taking a selfie because these chicks are just feeling fly.
Additionally, there are some art accounts that share “normal” bodies. This yoga print (free from Art by Moga) is my fave:
Look at that little soft tum doing yoga. LOVE. IT.
I also enjoy following athletes who are humble and fun. One of the dudes from Fleet Feet Austin has the BEST Instagram pics:
Earlier this year when it was still chilly, I shared this one and tagged him in the post:
It is fun to push myself in this way. I do not think of myself as an “athlete” or a “runner.” But truth be told, I am both. I have been working on this for years so occasionally I’ll ask my husband to stand across the street to take pictures of me running up and down a hill with cool wall art. It happens when you’re married to an athlete. Trust me. 🙂
This takes time.
I want to end this post with acknowledging that this takes time. I am not rocking the “beach body” I had hoped I would have by now. I am, however, the most comfortable I have been in my own skin. I am sure this comfort is somewhat tied to my consistent weight loss/maintenance as of late. But this is ALSO because I’ve been dipping my toes in the “self-acceptance pool.” Sometimes it is scary but it always ends up okay. As previously mentioned, on a hot day I decided to wear a sports bra and no tank. This was HUGE for me. So, before the run I strutted into my husband’s (home) office and said “see you in a bit-” showcasing my INNIE- BREATHING FRESH AIR FOR DAYS.
He was like “cool.”
I said “be proud of me.” It took him a minute to figure out why, which is probably the coolest part of that story- other than my innie, which was straight up chillin in the breeze. He didn’t see it as brave. Utilitarian wonder boy over there…
If you need me, I’ll be laying on cold concrete after a 5 mile run, using a gross sweaty shirt as a pillow and drinking whatever water is left in my Camelbak.