This post was written in 2018 for iWeigh.
When I was 14 years old, I followed Victoria’s Secret on Instagram. I discovered the brand after Taylor Swift performed at their world famous fashion show in 2015, and I soon became a loyal follower. In 2018, this year, I unfollowed them. I want to tell you why.
Naively, as a young girl being presented with these “angels” I was enamoured by them. They were beautiful, they seemed smart, they were kind. They were the epitome of what society was saying you – as a female – should be. Because of this, I progressed to idolising both the angels and the brand. By this point I had built up a hefty follow list; I was following all of the models, Victoria’s Secret, VS Pink, VS Sport, and a tonne of other fashion brands. This meant that every day I was being fed these images of flawless people, over and over again. I know now the magic of photoshop, the intense regimes that models are put through, and the fact that no matter how hard you try you will never be perfect. Why? Because perfection doesn’t exist with a solid definition. Back then, however, I couldn’t see it. All I could see is that I wanted to be like the angels.
After being told that I had anorexia in 2017, I continued to follow the brand. I’ll be honest with you, at that point in my journey I didn’t want to recover. I didn’t see what was wrong with me. I thought that I was healthy, and the reason I thought this is because I was seeing people who looked just like me in the media. The difference is they were being presented as healthy, and being praised for looking this way. Maybe they were healthy, I don’t doubt that a number of people are naturally skinny or have a fast metabolism, and I would never want to be mistaken as someone who condones reverse body shaming. My problem is with the way that society as a whole makes it seem like you can only be attractive if you’re thin, you can only be healthy if you’re thin, you can only be beautiful if you’re thin. You can only be perfect if you’re thin. But this isn’t true!
The turning point in my journey with perfection happened at the beginning of this year, when I watched a video by the model Iskra Lawrence. I discovered her from Aerie’s body positivity campaign and went on to find her YouTube channel where she has done a series titled “Self-Care Sundays”. In one of her videos, Iskra mentioned the amount of accounts we follow on social media that make us feel bad about ourselves and suggested that we just go ahead and unfollow anyone who gives us negative feelings. It’s such a simple idea, it’s such an obvious idea, and yet I hadn’t thought of it. I couldn’t count the number of times that these models or brands had made me feel insecure about my own appearance, but I wouldn’t have thought to unfollow them without that push.
I was lucky enough to have watched that video when I was in the right frame of mind to actually listen to it and take on board the advice. Since then I feel that my attitude toward myself has changed dramatically. When you’re not constantly being shown who you should be, you give yourself the space to find out who you actually are.
So that’s why I’m here. I want you to go to your Instagram (or Facebook, or Twitter) and unfollow those brands or people who make you feel bad about yourself. I’m pretty sure that you already have some in mind, and you have no idea how satisfying it will feel when you click that button.
Just remember how special you are. No one else in the entire world is you. That is your super power. You’re one in seven billion.