Body Positivity in the Age of Instagram Models
There’s a saying in the city, you’re a 10 in your hometown and a 5 once you get to LA. I have never seen so many beautiful people, yet so many people that looked eerily the same. Vying for one idea of beauty, that is unspoken but very clear.
By Christianna Wiggins
I felt it within weeks of arriving to the city. I would see other girls and feel a pang of jealousy. They didn’t have stretch marks or cellulite, and they were perfectly proportioned. They had radiant skin and perfect hair. I would silently beat myself up because I lacked the physical traits that made these girls beautiful. All the while, I was a size 4. In retrospect, it’s ridiculous that I was so insecure about my looks, but my story isn’t unique. Whether it’s Los Angeles or Laos, the journey to love oneself is often extensive, and it lengthens when it’s flooded by images of seemingly unattainable beauty. I say “seemingly” because it is attainable and true for some, but not for all, and that’s where there’s a disconnect.
Our society’s emphasis on social media has truly come to bite us in the butt with self-esteem issues. Our timelines are flooded with Instagram models who appear to be effortlessly beautiful and most of us, subconsciously try to measure up. We take 100 photos and post the best two in an effort to be validated by our peers with likes. We cater our bodies to what we believe is appealing to others, and forget all about what we’re comfortable with for ourselves. I will be the first to admit that I’ve done it too. It’s not a crime to want to be liked. It only gets dangerous when this is where we place all of our worth. If we only feel beautiful when other people tell us that we’re beautiful. When we can’t acknowledge that the ladies we see on Instagram are real people, who are perfect in their bodies, but we are perfect too, even if we don’t look the same.
Of course, it is easier said than done to love oneself, flaws and all, especially if our flaws aren’t publicly praised. But it’s important to remember that everyone puts their best foot forward on social media. Everyone secretly has things they don’t like about themselves and their bodies that they wouldn’t dare to share. To me, my stretch marks felt like such a huge and obvious flaw, but to another person, it may be scars that others can’t see.
A few weeks ago, a friend came to me and said dating apps worried her because she was afraid men would see her in person and decide she looked nothing like her pictures. I looked at her bewildered because to me, she looked exactly like her pictures. But in her mind, she was somehow heavier and more unattractive than how she appeared online. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. My advice to her, and my advice to anyone who struggles with body positivity is this. Each morning, look directly in the mirror and say three traits that you love about yourself or your body. It can be anything from your eyelashes to your laugh. Focus on all the amazing things that make you unique, instead of dissecting the qualities of others. Continue to tell yourself that you are beautiful and you are worthy. And one day, before you know it, you will absolutely believe it.