Throughout most of my life, I have struggled with body dysmorphia. In middle and high school, I hated the way I looked and constantly found myself comparing my body to those of models and actresses. I would tell myself that, because I didn’t wear the same size clothes as them or have the same body shape, I wasn’t pretty or skinny. For years, I would tell myself the most harmful things, simply because I did not like my appearance. I hit my lowest point last spring during quarantine, as leaving my house and my own thoughts was nearly impossible. However, this was also one of the most transformative points, as well, when I discovered body positivity influencers on social media.
In the past couple of years, the body positivity movement has begun to fill social media, a once dark and toxic place for many, with light. Women around the world are displaying their bodies without Photoshop or Facetune to prove that, regardless of what your body looks like, you are still beautiful. From stomach rolls to cellulite to stretch marks, nothing is off limits in these posts. Since then, many women have gained lots of traction from their posts, leading to the creation of their own body positive brands and podcasts. In an essence, these women are changing the social media world for the better and inspiring women and young girls to love all aspects of themselves.
Two key influencers (and my personal favorites) surrounding this movement are Victoria Garrick and Mik Zazon. Although they come from different backgrounds, they share a love of body positivity and mental health advocacy. Victoria often discusses her struggle with body dysmorphia as a former D1 athlete, while Mik addresses her lifelong struggle with her body image and eating disorder. Regardless of their situations, though, one thing that I absolutely loved when I found their accounts was that they are undeniably themselves, even when society tells them they shouldn’t be. They have an ability to relate to the struggles all girls and women have experienced, or are currently experiencing, through expressing their love for their imperfectly perfect bodies. As a 20-year-old seeing this appreciation on such a public platform for the first time, I realized that I have the capability to love myself and body, too. Do I, and these influencers, still struggle with their bodies? Absolutely. But is there now a motive to push past the stigma and instead learn to love myself? Even more so.
We don’t realize the impact others can have on ourselves until we are face to face with something life changing. Had I not found these women, I honestly don’t think I would be in the place I am today with my body, even with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and simply kind affirmations from friends and family. There is something about seeing this vulnerability and pride on social media, a place that is seemingly flawless, that reminds us about reality. We’re not all perfect, and that is okay.