I'm recovering from an eating disorder. Three years ago, I was at an all-time low - physically, and mentally. And it took me this long to get where I am now: a (mostly) confident, (relatively) public self-care advocate, mental health speaker, and body positive activist. But I'm human, and even though my job depends on me being totally transparent about my emotional well-being, it's still really f*cking hard sometimes.
Recently, I've struggled with promoting my own body positivity. Having battled with my self-confidence and mental illness for a long time, following body positive instagrammers is something that empowers me - yet I have a hard time following in their footsteps. As much as I like, comment and support their self-love, when it comes to sharing my own, I hesitate.
Because I'm "skinny".
Even though I've endured my own self-hate, and battled my own demons - I'm still "conventionally good looking". And I recognize that there is a very fine line between body positive posts, and sexualized selfies. The most praised #bopo influencers have battle scars to show: stretch marks, curves and cellulite. I do not.
I have squishy arms and side boob, in a slim frame, which seems to pail in comparison. In some twisted regard, I don't feel worthy to instagram "body positive" photos because my body doesn't truly show the struggles I've endured. I envy the bo-po babes with killer curves and confidence who can unapologetically show their skin and be praised; I fear of doing the same, knowing that skinny girls in bikini pics are often objectified and not celebrated.
But I don't believe in "skinny shaming".
Nor will I complain to have the body I'm in. What I've realized is that much of my own self-doubt is rooted in fear of judgement. One of my fears with instagram is being seen as "sexual" and not "empowering". But perhaps that's a barrier I've made up in my own mind that I need to overcome - maybe I need to believe in myself fully before I can expect others to.
In the past 3 years I've learned that...
Mental illness is a journey. Unlike many physical illnesses, there's not usually a straight-cut answer to getting better. And recovery is not finite; even once you're "recovered", there can be little things that trigger you afterwards. It's not so much about "getting better" as it is about "getting better at managing".
For me, being unapologetically confident about my body is what recovery looks like. And I guess something as menial as posting this photo on instagram is one step in managing the little barriers along the way.