Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Trigger warning: this article contains references to eating disorders

Living in such a digital age allows us to keep all the pictures we take. Instagram has been around for almost 12 years now, and I have been taking pictures and posting them for just as long. Even my camera roll goes several years back, and some days I go through reminiscing when I was younger, prettier and happier. 

As I scroll through my camera roll, looking at the last two years, I see a tiny, 100-pound girl I do not recognize. Her stomach is flatter, her muscles are toner and her smile is bigger. I look at her and feel envious, but also sad for her. She never appreciated the body she had. She had deprived it of food for long periods of time, she worked out until she threw up, she stared at herself for hours in the mirror critiquing the reflection; but that smile that looked so sweet and full of life was so forced.

I was under five feet tall until I was a sophomore in highschool; I did not weigh over 100 pounds until the same year. In middle school, I was often teased for being as short as I was, but it never bugged me. I actually liked being short, it helped me feel petite. Until one day in middle school someone made a joke about how my belly hung over my pants. Ever since, I have had an obsession with having a flat stomach. 

Instagram first came out in 2010, and I’ve had an account since I was in middle school. Middle school is supposed to be the time everyone goes through that “ugly phase” when trying to discover who they want to be. For me, I knew what I wanted to be: as pretty as the girls I saw on social media with a perfect figure. 

As we all learned in sex education, women’s bodies change over time. Our hips grow wider and our body retains fat better in our hips, stomach, arms and legs. These changes are natural as we come into our adulthood; however, most bodily changes we go through are not pretty to societal standards. 

I just turned 20 this year, and my body and mind are still transitioning into adulthood. For so long I was in a war with my body, pleading with it to look perfect from all angles. I was exhausted from fighting the changes that come with getting older. It took a long time to realize that I am not alone in this fight, and neither are you. It may feel like a fight against your own body, but it’s not. It is a fight with your brain to accept the beauty in the mirror opposed to the impossible standard we see. 

I have found a few tips to help remind myself of my beauty and worth over the years. The first step I took was talking about it with my friends. I was ashamed of my self-consciousness and wanted to hide it, but they all understood what it was like to punish yourself for something you have no control over. Now my best friend and I often ask each other what we ate that day, and if we had not, it meant we were going on a food run. I also like to write positive notes on my mirror for myself to read when I have been standing in front of it for too long. Another technique to stop myself from falling down that slippery slope is wearing clothes that I feel comfortable in. That may sound unrelated but it is so important. When I was forcing myself into skinny jeans and crop tops, which were two sizes too small, I was squeezing my skin so tight — of course I was uncomfortable and my skin was bulging out.

Work out if you have the time, wear what you want, eat what makes you feel good, and compliment a stranger because it may go farther than you will ever know. Your physical and mental health is far more important than any dieting article, swimsuit model or workout routine you may see online. This is real life, so be the real you. Your mind, body and personality are beautiful.

Caroline Reed

Virginia Tech '24

Caroline is a freshman majoring in Fashion Merchandising and Design at Virginia Tech. Caroline is so excited to be apart of such a fun group of girls! She loves to write, paint, read, or anything else that requires some creativity and imagination. She loves to go for runs and the occasional hike. She enjoys watching and playing almost all sports, although volleyball is a favorite.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️