How many women’s fashion bloggers or fitness influencers do you follow on social media? And how many of those women’s bodies are you envious of? Be honest with me. I know for most of us, we see their posts of them rocking some skinny jeans or hanging out in a sports bra and we think, “I would give anything to look like that” or “I wish I had her body.” I mean, come on, they look so great it’s only natural for us to think that.
We allow their posts of their picture-perfect bodies to make us feel worse about our own. With every image we see, the worse we feel. It becomes a vicious cycle of constant comparison and dissatisfaction that drains us of our self-confidence and fuels our insecurities.
We also have these same thoughts about women we come across in our lives, whether they are friends, family, or just a random woman we pass by on the street. No matter who it is, we are so quick to feel jealous or envious of their body and wish we were as fit or as skinny as they are. These internal comparisons heighten our insecurities even more.
But, when we have these feelings of envy, we don’t really know what we are actually envious of. We don’t know what we are actually wishing for. We don’t know what we are actually comparing ourselves to.
Eating Disorders Are More Common Than You Might Realize
What do I mean by that?
We don’t know the full story behind that perfect-looking body. We don’t know the story behind those skinny jeans and how they came to fit them so beautifully. Unfortunately, taking drastic measures to become skinnier, leaner, and fitter is more common than many of us realize.
That woman you are jealous of could be addicted to exercise, spending every free moment she has in the gym to burn off every single calorie she ate. That woman you are comparing your body to might be overly restrictive with her diet, counting every single calorie and frightened to eat anything “bad” for her. Even worse, that woman you wish you looked like could be depriving herself of food and constantly feeling miserable and hungry. Or, that woman that makes you feel more insecure about your body could be running to the bathroom after every meal to throw it up.
Believe me when I say this, you would be shocked by how many people in your life struggle with an eating disorder.
How do I know? Because I am one of them. Recently, I opened up publicly about struggling with an eating disorder for almost 10 years; I was shocked by how many women in my life came forward and told me they can relate.
Having “The Perfect Body” Isn’t Worth It
Most of us hold our body to a high standard, although this standard could have been set by someone who didn’t achieve their rocking body through healthy measures. This standard we are holding ourselves to is actually unrealistic.
We see their body and are determined to achieve the same results. When we are killing ourselves at the gym and are dedicated to making the healthiest food choices and still cannot obtain the physique we want, we get frustrated. We don’t understand why these other women can look this way and we cannot. This encourages us to workout more and eat less.
Eating disorders can sneak up on you. Maybe you aren’t anorexic or perhaps you aren’t bulimic, but to me, drastically restricting your food, being overly obsessed with counting your calories, and habitually over-exercising are just as harmful.
As you can see, one woman’s eating disorder can trigger a domino effect, and I am on a mission to stop this.
I’m telling you this from first-hand experience. Everything I listed above, was everything I did. Yes, I had the body other women wanted. Yes, I had women telling me they were jealous of my six-pack abs. Yes, I had women wishing they had the same lean, fit body like mine. I was that woman. And let me tell you, I’m not proud of it. I pray each day that my unhealthy habits didn’t encourage another woman to do the same.
My life revolved around that perfect body. It completely consumed me. I missed out on countless social gatherings, I slept each night with a growling stomach and I spent hours in the gym running off everything I ate. Each day was overly calculated to ensure I didn’t eat more than I burned. If I did, I would starve myself the following day, or I would take the “easy way out” by throwing it up. The body I had was a result of me giving up my happiness, giving up living my life, and ultimately giving up my health. I wish all of this for no one.
So, you need to ask yourself, are you willing to give all that? Is having a perfect body really worth it? Unfortunately I had to learn the hard way that it’s not! But, my hopes are that you can learn from my mistakes by not allowing other women’s bodies to be an inspiration for what you want your body to be.
My Newfound Philosophy On My Body
I’ve now realized that my 5’8” muscular body wasn’t created to fit into size 0 jeans. We are all born with different body types and were never meant to all fit into the same tiny size, so let’s not force ourselves to. God created each body to be exactly what it is, and shouldn’t that be enough for us? When we are working so hard to force our bodies to become something that they aren’t, we are disrespecting the beautiful body God created for us–disrespecting the body we should be beyond thankful for.
Now, when I see someone who has an amazing body, I try not to feel jealous, envious, or worse about my own body. I remind myself we all are all different. When I see someone who is extremely fit, or extremely skinny, I wish them happiness and health, rather than wishing my body to look like theirs. I’m not saying that every lean, fit person you come across is battling an eating disorder, but what I am saying is that you never know, and you never want to hold your body to an unrealistic standard. I now focus on allowing my body to be what it is and love it unconditionally for it. God created it and that should be enough, right?
My newfound philosophy on my body is that if I fuel it with whole foods and move it regularly, while maintaining a balanced lifestyle, my body can be whatever it wants to be. If I know I am treating my body with respect and fueling it they way it is meant to be fueled, whichever way it ends up looking is they way it is meant to look, and I shouldn’t try to force it to look any other way.
A redwood tree doesn’t look at bamboo with envy. The redwood just stands tall. Nor do we look at a redwood and shame it for not being bamboo. We just admire the beauty and uniqueness of both. What if we did that with ourselves? What if we were able to stand tall and confident in our own skin and admire the beauty and uniqueness of all the different women that surrounds us? What a wonderful world that would be!
We need to start allowing our bodies to just be as they are, without judging, comparing, or feeling the need to take drastic measures to make them look a certain way. We need to realize that if we are forcing our body to look a certain way and we have to miss out on living our happiest, healthiest life to get there, it’s definitely not the way God created our body to look and not a body we should be striving to obtain or maintain.
So, let’s hold each other accountable! Let’s remind each other to give our bodies the nourishment they crave, the movement they need, and the respect they deserve. Together, let’s celebrate the uniqueness each of us holds, without comparing and without jealousy. And together, let’s stand tall with confidence in our skin and love the body God has blessed us with.
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