Envy vs Appreciation: The Necessary Distinction

During the brainstorming process of creating the 21-Day Body Positive Challenge, I went back and forth with the inclusion of social media. Millennials are targeted as a generation of narcissism, specifically regarding their social media accounts. Body positivity requires focusing in on oneself, loving oneself, and sharing that self-love with others. So, I was trying to decide if I wanted to feed the negative criticism of others — is it just another “look at me” post? But then I realized that I’m doing exactly what the nay-sayers want — I’m immediately looking at the world with a negative perspective. Sure, those nay-sayers will always be there, but why should they dictate what we chose to put out into the world?

Once I crossed the bridge of including social media in this challenge, I had one more hesitation to work out. It is easy to fall into a downward spiral of self-loathing and envy while looking at others’ photos…

I love her hair. I wish mine could look like that.
I want to be toned like that fitness model.
I wish I could eat whatever I want and not gain a pound like that celebrity.
Look at all the places they travel. Must be nice to have that kind of money.
Wow, that looks like a fancy party. I wish I could live that kind of life.
Why are Chrissy Teigen’s stretch marks so much cuter than mine?

When you focus so much on what others have that you don’t, that “wish” will turn into a serious case of envy before you know it. Then all the courage it took for you to post that no make-up selfie is destroyed because you got a glimpse of Alicia Keys without make-up. Or the desire to bring healthiness back into your life is ruined because you paid too close attention to the “inspirational photo” of 12-pack abs that lays in the background of your new fitness routine. How can I look at photos of other people, and not want their lifestyle, their bodies, their wealth? How can I put my vulnerable self out there?

We cannot let this no-good-very-bad sin of envy demolish our self-worth. I may want the height of a supermodel, but it’s literally not in my genes. I may want to throw a private party on a yacht in the south of France, but my part-time job at Starbucks and the massive amount of school loan debt will prevent this from happening anytime soon (unless I win the lottery or marry a very rich man, both unlikely considering I don’t play the lottery, nor am I currently dating). Sometimes, what we “want” is out of our control. And instead of putting ourselves down because we don’t look the way we want, or have the things we want, we should be grateful for what we do have. We have to work on loving ourselves for who we are, and reminding ourselves that God made us in God’s image.

Stop comparing. You are enough.