Guess What? No One Cares.
I was chatting to a friend last night who’s starting a new business. She was worried that people on social media would judge her for posting too much, posting the wrong thing, or not like what she posted. I hate that she feels like that when she should be celebrating doing something cool and feeling supported and not judged on SM for it. I get the paranoia though, and I feel it too, nowhere more so than in pics and videos of myself.
Like most women, my body image issues started as a teenager. My first boyfriend wasn’t very nice, I wasn’t a skinny kid (understatement) so when we first started seeing each other I quickly went on my first ever diet to get down to a weight that was “acceptable” to him. But however skinny I was, I always had a tummy pooch. And in that sea of 14 year old girls with completely flat stomachs and rock hard abs, nothing I ever did got rid of my pooch. My mum had it, my nan had it, it’s just part of who I am.
Fast forward nearly 30 years and nothing has changed. Here I am, 2 kids later, having just lost weight (yet again), at the fittest I’ve ever been, and I STILL have the pooch. Except now, I’ve somehow, completely by accident, become someone who posts about “fitness” on Instagram by innocently posting a picture or video of my workout every day (I put “fitness” in inverted commas because I wouldn’t classify myself as fit at all).
Let me reiterate, I’m not a coach, I’m not selling anything, I’m not doing anything crazy or weird or extra (largely sticking to gov guidelines by doing the minimum amount of exercise) and I regularly eat so much crap food that I feel sick and go back on a diet (and even when I’m tight on my nutrition for months on end, it’s still NORMAL for me to have a wobbly belly). I just happen to post about my workouts because 1, it keeps me accountable and 2, I’ve had some really nice feedback about it.
Admittedly I do have a completely fucked up emotional attachment to food, bingeing and dieting (working on this) but really, from my pics I think you can tell that I’m just a normal, perimenopausal, middle aged woman who is trying to be brave and push past judging herself so she can just get on with the business of being happy in her body.
But there are ways of looking better in pics. If you get the camera high up angled down onto your body, the shadow of your bottom rib can help create shape in the fat on your stomach, which at the time is super ego-boosting and makes you feel better about posting sweaty workout selfies when you’re probably a bit too old and past it to be doing so seriously.
But recently I started to question myself. I was getting messages like “great abs!” and “look at those abs, girl!” (which, by the way, felt AMAZING), while simultaneously reading more and more about the “problem” of fake Instagram fitness making people obsess about their body, and also trying to learn to live in (and be proud of) my thinner body and not put all the weight back on AGAIN, along with my usual struggles of trying not to think too much (oh and also being a mum, running a business and keeping house).
Now, I should tell you here and now that authenticity is my absolute reason for living. I get really panicky about any form of dishonesty and being honest with everyone about who I really am is so important to me at my very core, that even if I don’t particularly like who I am sometimes, I try to be really honest about who I am at all times.
I was getting more and more worried that somewhere along the line I was giving people the wrong impression. People might be thinking that I have abs when I don’t and wouldn’t that just be awful (and not overly dramatic at all)?
So I decided that I really ought to post a video of my real stomach, proving that I do not have abs in any way, shape or form, so I can keep my posting honest and true. But I kept losing my nerve.
After my convo with my friend last night however, this morning I finally decided to take the plunge and just do it, preferably without over thinking it.
The minute I hit “share” I was waiting for an alarm to go off, helicopters to fly over, an announcement to be made: “STOP THE WORLD PEOPLE, A MIDDLE AGED WOMAN HAS POSTED A VIDEO OF HER REAL STOMACH AND IT’S NOT PRETTY. SOMEONE CALL THE POLICE” and for me to get a million messages from people saying “gross”, “unfollow”, “why have you crushed my dreams?” And then…
Nothing. Nada. One person watched it. Then another. Then before I knew it 20 people had watched it and not one person had anything negative to say. Got a couple of happy faces, couple of laughs, a couple of really positive comments, but it was NOT the earth shattering, game changing event that I thought it would be.
You know why?
Because in the main, NO ONE GIVES A SHIT. They just watched a video then got on with their morning. Seriously, no one cares. No one cares what your stomach looks like, no one cares what you post, no one cares if you’re fat or thin. Not because people are uncaring wankers, but because they’re too busy stressing and thinking about their own lives (and rightly so).
When someone watches social media their internal response is likely one syllable, either “ha”, “oh” or “cool” at most. They’re really not thinking about it anymore than that. For me, if something is REALLY cool, or REALLY funny, or someone posts something that seems like they REALLY need a chat, I will reach out and tell them it was cool, funny or that I’m here if they need me. Other than that, I don’t give it a second thought.
So I’m really trying not to overthink my online truffle shuffle because I don’t think anyone else is. Though it’s taking all my effort not to remove it.
But in my own little way, by leaving it up there even for just 24 hours I’m sending a message out to the universe that its ok to keep it real and BE YOU.
So with that in mind, let’s all try and not just accept our bodies (with or without abs), but also love them too.