The #MeToo movement has done more for women in a series of months than we’ve been able to accomplish in the past few decades.
Men victimizing women will no longer be tolerated or kept hidden, especially in a climate where women have a voice and are using their words and wisdom to fight back. In this evolving climate, Wonder Woman reigns and feminists are lauded as the rock stars they are.
But there is a bully we are still failing to address. There is a monster who torments us daily—ourselves.
A recent body-positive Instagram post from entrepreneur Jenna Kutcher is making national news because it represents everything that women still need to learn. Kutcher’s 220,000 followers are well-accustomed to the talented photographer’s raw, honest approach to the platform. A self-proclaimed “curvy” girl, Jenna is known for posting body-baring beach pictures alongside her adoring husband, “Mr. 6-Pack.”
Jenna’s story is one of self-acceptance, as she talks about her cellulite, love handles, and learning to love and embrace her own body.
Not all followers are as accepting though. One Instagrammer even messaged her to ask, “How did you of all people land a guy like that?” Their photos tell the story of a happy couple whose love runs deep and sees far beyond the physical self. But still, when we look at differences in their physical appearances, far too many of us are thinking “good for her,” while simultaneously never cutting our own bodies the same slack.
My own slim and fit husband absolutely adores me, and he tells me I am beautiful, sexy, and kind every single day. I appreciate his words more than he can ever know, but I also wish that just once, I could really hear him—that I could learn to believe the words of the man who has never lied to me. From the time I was a child, I can remember feeling self-conscious over the way my tummy protruded, and even at 38, I’ve not yet learned to truly embrace the skin I am in.
In many ways, I can appreciate my body. My legs, arms, and most other areas deserve far more praise than I’ve ever allowed. But like many others, I deal daily with food intolerance, which means that even when I am careful to avoid offending foods, by day’s end my abdomen can tend to swell and grow.
Bedtime is rarely a time I feel my sexiest, because it’s when my stomach is at its most extended. A “food baby” is what some have called it; “shameful” is how it tends to feel. I’ve been paleo, low-carb, grain free, and vegan. I’ve fasted, dieted, and walked 10,000 steps a day. But the only thing that ever helps my body to feel like the glorious, sensual, praise-worthy vessel it is, is when I’m taking action. It is only when I have just penned an exciting new article, taught an insightful yoga class, cooked up an amazing family meal, or found just the right words to comfort a friend in a time of need that I truly feel beautiful.
Social media is a picture-driven practice. And while it would be lovely if words without pictures were still the norm, we are no longer in the era of the telegraph. We click on stunning pictures because they represent a life we think is easier, prettier, or somehow better than our own mundane suffering. We watch and “like” as models document their favorite outfits while jaunting about the planet, looking both fabulous and unattainable.
And of course we all love pretty things. But there is more to social media than the pictures we see. Part of what makes it so relatable is when we read heartfelt outpourings from people like Jenna, and Rachel Brathen, and Kathryn Budig. We allow our minds to momentarily enter into a space of love and acceptance for all our physical imperfections—but not a moment later, we replay the same insecurities in our own minds again and again.
When was the last time someone told you that you were beautiful, and you really believed it?
My Kundalini yoga teacher, Yogi Bhajan, once said, “You are equally as beautiful as the universe.”
When was the last time you felt that remarkable?
If we think about it, the people we admire the most usually inspire us because of what they do, and not because of how they look. Each of them is a physical representation of someone living fully, and working hard to become something they’ve always dreamed of being. Think of the courage it took them to stay the course and get where they are today. Think of the failure they must have faced before meeting with success.
Are we tapping that tiny Instagram heart because of the pretty picture or because we recognize that they are doing something important in a visible way? Every single one of us was gifted with a unique set of superpowers. Writers, mothers, chefs, painters, counselors, accountants—the list goes on and on. We are multifaceted beings, not just pretty bodies.
It’s time to stop allowing ourselves to be victimized by others, but also by ourselves. Why don’t we stop trying to pose for the perfect picture and work a little harder to show the world our work, our passions, our dreams.
What makes Jenna Kutcher a superstar is not just that she can rock a bikini with a big smile and an honest caption. It’s that she takes beautiful photographs, uses her voice to empower others, loves her husband unequivocally, rescues dogs, and has built a badass empire from the ground up.
What makes you beautiful? How does the vastness of this awesome universe express itself through you?
I can’t fix your self-esteem or body image issues any more than I can fix my own, but I do know that if we do it together, nothing is impossible.
Know that you are absolutely stunning. And when you don’t feel that way and need a little encouragement, I want to help you harness your superpower and see just how beautiful it is. My hope is that you will do the same for someone else.
I will be tagging my social media posts with #iamworthyoflove and hope that maybe you will too. Let’s create ripples of self-love in the ocean of social media. Maybe if we start truly seeing one another for more than what we look like, we can then learn to see ourselves for the incredible creatures that we are.
Author: Kristen Campbell Nichols
Image: jennakutcher/Instagram; Author’s own
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Travis May