We all have days where we’re not a fan of all or parts of our bodies.
In fact, a study by the Mental Health Foundation and YouGov in 2019 found that 1 in 5 adults had felt shame because of their body image in the last year.1
Most of us are able to bury those feelings, but what about the influencers and athletes sharing photos and videos of their bodies on social media?
Sharing yourself online with potentially millions of people watching and commenting is a daunting thought for most people. Especially if your body isn’t seen to live up to the unrealistic standards set by others.
Let’s be honest, whose body really does?
In fact, one athlete got so fed up of dealing with pointless beauty standards that she posted about it:
Functional fitness athlete Emelye Dwyer has certainly experienced the tough side to social media, but is determined to show that it’s not what your body looks like that matters, but what you do with it.
We caught up with her to find out more…
“Splish splash your opinion is trash”
Like most who have a decent following on social media, Emelye’s had her fair share of negative comments, but knows better than to take it personally.
“Ultimately, there’s always going to be someone who thinks you’re too thick or too thin, you’re never going to please everybody.”
She’s not wrong either. The goal posts for beauty standards are always moving and changing and most of us will never meet them.
“Western beauty standards fluctuate so fast that by the time you’ve reached this aesthetic that’s supposedly the “body goals” of the moment, then suddenly a new thing is the trend and you’ve got to change what you’re doing again.”
But Emelye explains this isn’t even the main point. You want happiness? You’re not going to find it in other people and their opinions.
“You’ve got to try and find a happy place within yourself that isn’t going to be affected by extrinsic factors because otherwise you’re just going to be chasing your tail.”
This doesn’t mean Emelye doesn’t have bad body image days though.
“Sometimes I do want to hide away”
As a functional fitness athlete, Emelye’s body is capable of some incredible things — just take a look at her workout videos. However, her strength and physique do sometimes make her feel self-conscious.
“Sometimes I look in the mirror and I think ‘I don’t know if I want to get any bigger’ because of comments that you get. Sometimes I do want to hide away and I often feel much happier throughout winter when I can hide away under layers because then you don’t know what my body looks like.”
Hiding the less-loved parts of our bodies is something many of us have experienced, as well as the fear of wearing less in the summer months.
“As soon as the warmer weather comes and I get my legs or upper body out, the staring is amazing because it’s different.”
But Emelye’s worked out something very important — just how often are these people actually thinking something negative about what they’re seeing?
“Our default is to think that people are thinking negatively about us and sometimes that is the case but a lot of the time it isn’t.”
“Nothing will ever stop me from chasing”
This is where our own self-talk can make all the difference — something that as an athlete, Emelye’s especially good at. She’s able to rationalise these insecurities with what her body allows her to do.
“Functional fitness and training, it builds a particular physique. If my waist wasn’t thick, I wouldn’t be able to do as many things as I do. I can’t expect to have a tiny waist and deadlift what I want to deadlift and carry what I can’t to carry.”
And she’s so right. When you’re in your element, running as fast as you can, breaking PBs, are you really thinking about what you’re looking like? You’re just proud of your body for what it’s achieving.
“When you’re standing on a podium, the last thing that comes into your head is what your body looks like. Nothing will ever stop me from chasing that.”
Take home message
We all suffer from bad body image days, but how you deal with it can make all the difference. Emelye’s experience with this really helps to build perspective. She sees other people’s comments for what they are — not important or necessary for health or happiness.
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Make every bite count.