The Harsh Reality of Cute Instagram Pictures

For those of you who know me well, you know how much I love Instagram. It’s such a cool, visual platform to express yourself creatively and to keep your loved ones in the loop with what is going on in your life.

However, I just realized I am contributing to a huge problem that I really dislike about Instagram. I am posting non-realistic photos of myself.

Sure, everyone only posts the highlights of their life on Instagram, but once I checked the explore page and only saw super skinny, toned women in swimsuits. And I’ve posted my fair share of those bikini pictures as well! What my followers don’t know though, is how unhappy and how unmaintainable my body was.

I didn’t even realize this until about a month ago, but I was miserable when I had this picture taken of me. I was constantly thinking about food. I had to mentally plan out every meal I was going to eat, and make sure that I was running as much as I could to “get rid of” the food I would later binge on, sense I was practically starving myself.

Though I am known to be a very happy, kind, and forgiving person, this dark side would come out of me whenever I thought about my appearance. I would have these rigid rules and thoughts such as, “no eating after 7pm,” “only eat raw vegetables for dinner,” “stop eating so much fruit you’re going to get fat” and so on.

My coach and teammates (shoutout, y’all are so great) expressed some concern and encouraged me to talk to someone. I was absolutely appalled and frankly pissed off when they talked to me. I didn’t like the idea that there was something wrong with me.

So, I did what any mommas girl would do- call her parents and cry. Luckily, my mom and dad respectfully said that I probably should talk with someone, so I reached out and started talking.

I was diagnosed with anorexia a few days later.

I learned that the little voice in the back of my head telling me I’m not good enough was normal for patients who suffer from any eating disorder. I was so relieved that I wasn’t as alone as I once thought I was.

However, I felt so bad thinking about my friends who see me on Instagram. They see my abs, which were crafted by hours upon hours of over obsessing about how I looked and what I should eat, and think that they should look like me.

A few weeks ago, a sprinter on our track team said to me, “what do you do to get abs like that?! I want your body!”

Part of me wanted to tell her the truth, but I got too embarrassed.

“I just run and eat healthy,” I replied.

Thinking about this never ending cycle of trying to look good on Instagram, I gave myself a challenge.

I wanted to be able to look myself in the mirror when I look my “worst” (post-run, no abs, sweaty,) like what I see, and take a picture.

And folks, I write you this today because I finally achieved it.

This body is not made for anyone’s viewing pleasure. This body of mine is a machine that can take me amazing places. My body is strong. My body is maintainable. My body can handle hard workouts, long runs, laughing constantly, and hiking adventures with friends.

I would be lying if I said my initial reaction to body rolls when I sit is positive, but it is improving every day.

To anyone struggling with eating or thinking of themselves positively, just know that there are more people than you think that are struggling as well. Also know that you are a very strong and capable person who can overcome this, but you have to be willing to take that initial leap. Getting your momentum going is the hardest part.

Some of you may think that this post is too personal or too much information. I was thinking that to myself as well! My parent’s voices saying, “once you post something, it is out there for the whole world to see…FOREVER” kept ringing in my head.

However, I think it is necessary to post this. People need to know that overcoming an eating disorder is not easy. People also need to know that eating disorders are very real and exhausting for those involved.

I personally believe that awareness of eating disorders needs to be discussed, because it is something that people do not want to speak up about!

My journey to a full recovery has already has its ups and downs and I am no where near being done, but it’s the little steps (like actually liking what you see in the mirror) that should be celebrated.