“I wish I was as skinny as you.”
“I wish I looked like you.”
“Can I just be you?”
It breaks my heart when people say things like this, and it’s something I’m guilty of from time to time. Realize that there is something behind the image, that there is more to someone’s life than what they put online, and more importantly, what they look like.
We’re all human. We all have to wake up in the morning and put our jeans on one pant leg at a time. These people you idolize also have problems and although you might not have the same problems, they have more depth to them than a merely a filtered photograph or a body size.
Instagram allows us a sneak peek into the lavish lives of the rich and the famous. While peering into lives that are so different from ours can be enjoyable, it can also make us feel bad about ourselves. On a random Monday evening, you could be curled up in pajamas watching Netflix and see Kendall Jenner on a yacht in the Mediterranean, and suddenly feel weighed down.
We compare ourselves to the images of people we choose to follow. I realized that I was immediately physically comparing myself with everyone I scrolled past. It’s toxic. It seems that we can’t just admire somebody else’s body, hair, smile, or possessions and still be ourselves — we have to want the things they are and try to achieve them. But this leaves us all feeling empty; we’re never good enough because we can never really be the people to whom we compare ourselves. Why have we decided they are better than us?
You can admire someone’s traits, but wishing you were physically them is a waste of your own life. You need to feel good just being yourself without anyone else telling you that you are beautiful. Number one priority: believe it.
Instead of waiting for someone else to tell you that you are beautiful, tell yourself that. You have the tools you need. If I just tell you, “you are beautiful,” that means you are reliant on me, my opinion, and my words to feel good. You need to feel good within yourself. Screw what anyone else says; just understand where they are coming from. They come from a society that bred them to believe they need to restrict in order to be skinny and healthy and wanted and sexy and beautiful. And we now know that’s not the truth—at all.
The only opinion that matters is your opinion of yourself. Please remember that, please internalize that, and please live that.
In real life, we may spend years trying to “find ourselves,” but on social media, it seems we are all trying to find a version of ourselves that gets the most “likes.” And while it is normal to want to receive positive feedback from others, which makes us feel valued and loved, it is not normal to put all your self-esteem into looking good and having other people “like” the way you look.
If you’re using the image of others as a source of inspiration, you might want to check that it’s not coming from a place of inadequacy, or the assumption that it is possible to be exactly like someone else. People aren’t goals. When you comment “Ugh I want your body” or “I wish I looked like you” on an image, you are reducing that human being to nothing more than the physical structure of an organism. And they are so much more than that. You are so much more.
You don’t have to knock yourself down to make room for others. Another woman’s beauty does not negate your own. Nothing is more beautiful than fearlessly being yourself, wholeheartedly accepting yourself, and boldly showing the world that you do!
Every day, I teach myself to look in the mirror and refuse to judge. I trained myself to relate to myself in a new and different way. It took a lot time and energy to actively stop negative thoughts in their tracks, but removing the constant self-consciousness offered a certain amount of freedom in my body. I’m not afraid to take up space anymore. In fact, I’ve stopped thinking about my body as any measure to my worth almost completely.
Almost. I’m still a work in progress!
Social media is making it easier for people to spend more time and energy criticizing their own bodies and wishing they looked like someone else. Does this mean you have to give up social media altogether? No. Just reinvent your feed. Instead of using the platform in a way that feeds into a toxic culture of comparison, use it to help achieve self-acceptance. Unfollow people who support make you feel bad about yourself for any reason.
We compare ourselves with people whom we think embody some sort of perfection. Truth is, we are two completely different people who were born into two completely different lives with different genetics. We’re at totally different places, figuratively and literally, and we’ve had totally different things happen to us, so why would you wish you were me?
No other woman has your genes, your particular set of hormonal and life circumstances. What she’s got is totally irrelevant to you. But comparison happens. So what should you do instead?
Forgiveness. When comparison shows up, take a deep breath and come home to yourself. When you’re so worried about what someone else has, you miss out on being you. I will always lose at being Alexis Ren, but I can always win at being me. And if I’m not rising to the challenge of being the best Laurie I can be, guess what? If I don’t do it, no one will.
It’s ok to want something for yourself but it’s not ok to dwell in the “unfairness” that she has it and you don’t. When I feel myself engaging in comparison, I audibly tell myself, “You are you. She is she. You can’t be her and she can’t be you.”
Maybe even try authentically complimenting her. You’ll feel better, she’ll feel better and you’ll be free to turn your energy back to you.
Get back to being you. Back to a game you can win!