Hilaria Baldwin: I’m No Longer Afraid of My Own Skin
The Yoga Vida co-founder explains why giving up mirrors is a total waste of time.
In an interview with Thrive Global, fitness and well-being expert Hilaria Baldwin—who’s about to release her first book, The Living Clearly Method (read an excerpt here) — opens up about handling the needs of three small children, being present in every moment, and her famous Instagram feed, which is chock full of postpartum selfies, makeup-less selfies, co-sleeping selfies, and personal moments with her husband, Alec.
Thrive Global: You’ve written about the difference between being “at” life and being “in” life. Can you elaborate?
Hilaria Baldwin: Being in life is about being in the moment. It’s feeling your legs, feeling your hands, feeling your finger on the pen. You want to be in that moment; you want to experience everything. Because no matter what it is you’re doing right now, you don’t get to have that moment back. You have to be as present as possible to soak up as much of life as possible. And if you find that you don’t like what you’re feeling, change it. When you get to the point where you say, “I don’t want to be present because I don’t like it — I’m sad, I’m sad about my job, I’m sad about my relationship, I’m sad about my weight,” whatever it is — you might as well do whatever you can to work against anesthetizing yourself, and confront it head-on.
TG: When I was preparing for this interview, I came across one of your Instagram posts that shows a photo of yourself 24 hours postpartum, wearing a bra and underwear. How do you muster the courage to post this sort of thing on social media?
HB: Because I spent so many years anesthetizing myself — through anorexia bulimia, through not being present, through being unhappy — at one point, I was afraid of my own skin. It was akin to when people say they don’t own any mirrors because they don’t want to look at themselves. It’s a thing women do: hiding and hiding and hiding. Well, no matter how much you hide, you still exist. So when I tap into the experience of getting back into shape — and I’m working on it right now, I just went running and I’m taking a class later — it’s about not being afraid to look at yourself in the mirror and realizing that even if I don’t look perfect, I’m still me. The experience of pushing out a child is amazing, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
TG: What effect do you hope your forthrightness on social media has on your followers?
HB: To be quite honest, I want to help people. That’s what I want for my Instagram account. Of course, I got to write a book and there are opportunities from having the loud megaphone that goes along with being in the public eye, and I’m truly grateful for that. But I do it just because I want to help other people. I don’t get paid for my posts. They depict how I’m feeling. It’s my way of saying, “I’m realizing that you might be feeling similarly, and if you are, you don’t have to feel alone — I feel the same way.” Instagram is free, and people can use it to read and see whatever they want and get inspired in their own way. It offers an incredible ability to connect all of us.
TG: You’re a big proponent of normalizing what women actually look like and embracing the reminders of the power of the female body. But in practice, everyone has days when they wake up not feeling their best. How do you stay focused on your optimistic principles even during the most frustrating, real-talk moments of everyday life?
HB: These days, I’m up all night long off and on. I do have help — something I’m grateful for — but who do you think my kids want when they wake up in the middle of the night? They want their mommy and I give them their mommy. I wake up in the morning and my eyes are puffy. I’m pale — you know when you’re so tired and you feel sick? That’s how I feel. I have moments where I look at the bags under my eyes and I feel sorry for myself. I have a process I go through to get past it. First, I’m never going to deny how I feel. Then, I pull back and I try to breath through it. Then I let go. I look deep into myself and and I say, “This is the period of my life when I have little kids. I’m not going to breastfeed forever.” It’s about having a little perspective. Harping on how I feel terrible all day long — that’s not going to help, and that’s not going to solve anything. I don’t want to sit back and cry about it.
TG: You’ve acknowledged that our attachment to digital devices can be harmful. And yet you, like many of us, are a regular user of them, including sharing content on social media. What rules or limitations have you embraced that help keep yourself in check?
HB: It is something I think about a lot, and I don’t think that I do it well 100 percent of the time. Fortunately, I’m very low-tech; I’m not a computer user and I have no idea how to turn on a TV. As much as I think the community that we’ve built online is beautiful, I want my children to grow up knowing that we don’t bring our phones into bed. For me, family time is very important. If one kid is eating and another is trying to get my attention and I’m sending a text from someone, that’s not OK. While we can be multitaskers, it’s not OK to do that 100% of the time. Our life is public, and we’re “on” a lot, so it’s a really nice when I get to put my phone away.
This interview has been edited and condensed.