This week I learnt an important lesson about body confidence. It came to me via social media. And it was a positive lesson.
I know that social media, body confidence and positivity don’t always go hand in hand. But this week provided me with a first-hand experience that taught me something I want to share, in the hopes it may help you too.
Before jumping to the lesson, it is important to go back a few months.
Last year I spent a lot of time listening to podcasts and reading books to help me grow as a person.
One of the people I stumbled across in this process of self-improvement was Jenna Kutcher.
Jenna is a multi-talented marketing guru. She has many businesses including wedding photography, a successful podcast, educational programs and resources for aspiring entrepreneurs and loads more. I enjoy listening to Jenna’s Goal Digger Podcast and following her Instagram accounts – Jenna Kutcher and Goal Digger Podcast.
One of the things I have admired about Jenna is the positive body image messages she shares through her photos on Instagram, with many of them showing Jenna by the beach in her swimwear.
This inspired me to get some pics of my own, of me in my swimwear. I wanted these images to use as part of my journey in developing my confidence and building a positive body image.
The thing is, when I got the photos of me, I looked at them and was hesitant to use them.
I knew I would use the images one day, but I felt I needed to work on my acceptance of self first. My initial thoughts focused on the size and shape of my body and I wasn’t comfortable to share that much of me until I had more body confidence.
What Happened Next
In the past week one of Jenna’s body positive posts went viral. On Instagram Jenna shared a lovely photo of herself, standing with her husband. The accompanying caption was about a time a stranger sent Jenna a DM asking how she managed to score such a hot husband. The undertone meaning that she was not of the same standard of physical appearance.
This post went viral after a few days. Jenna handled the intense media scrutiny and pressure like the awe-inspiring entrepreneur that she is, despite some pretty nasty things being said about her.
I was reading a news story about the photo and the interest in it, and I was moved by how the story was presented.
It spoke about Jenna’s husband, Drew, a personal trainer, and his Instagram following, citing how many followers he had. At that time, it was about 14,000 followers. Which is a lot, I admit.
What struck me about this though was that there was no mention about Jenna’s following and her influence. Since this story broke Jenna’s following has increased significantly. However, before it broke, she still had a very large following of about 180K followers. No, I am not good at maths, but I know that 180,000 is waaaay more than 14,000. I felt it was odd that this fact didn’t come up in the story.
This unbalanced reporting moved me.
What Did I Do Next?
One of my role models was going through a tough time. There was a lot of intensity and negativity thrown Jenna’s way because she shared a picture of herself in her swimwear.
I knew I had my own photo of me in my swimwear. The photo had been sitting on my computer for the last two months, waiting for the day to arrive when I felt confident enough to share it.
With all of this going on, I knew that there was no right time for me to share it. I needed to do it now.
I felt incredibly nervous. My heart was pounding, adrenaline running through me.
I drafted my Instagram post. Reviewed it. Questioning myself over whether I should hit ‘share’. Feeling the fear, I went ahead and did it anyway.
Posting the picture of me in my swimwear on my Instagram account, I included a caption about kindness. Here is some of what I wrote:
I’m taking inspiration from my role model @jennakutcher and proudly showing who I am with the world. Yeah I’m nervous, but I want to live my life confidently, and not be afraid to do things because of what others might think of me. I’m putting this out there as a sign of solidarity and a willingness to share kindness with others. By accepting who we are, we can more readily accept others as they are
In addition, I shared this post in a private Facebook group for Goal Digger Insiders. I encouraged other GD Insiders to share their pictures as a sign of solidarity and support for Jenna during this crazy time.
What Happened Next?
The experience of Jenna’s viral post, associated media coverage and my own feelings on the matter gave me the courage to share the photo of myself that I had kept hidden.
Before posting the image, my heart was pounding. There was definitely fear, but there was also excitement too. I was feeling nervous and brave all at once.
After posting the image, I still felt anxious. And my heart was still pounding from the adrenaline. I even considered taking the picture down immediately after I posted it.
But I knew not to. I felt strongly about the message – about kindness and acceptance, of self and others. This was a message I wanted to share.
I calmed myself down enough to go to sleep, wondering what would happen the next day.
The Impact on Confidence
The next day, nervous with the anticipation of what I would discover, I opened my phone only to find…
…not a whole lot.
I definitely got more engagement with my post than usual. But there was no negativity, criticism, or judgement, which I had been expecting.
Instead, there was a lot of lovely comments – and not just about my appearance. More importantly, the comments were compliments, encouraging me about my personality, confidence and and the positive message I was sharing.
Opening Facebook, I found a similar experience. There was a lot of likes and comments – all supportive. I guess this was not as much of a surprise, given I had posted the picture in a private group, with like-minded people. However, it was re-assuring that I had done the right thing, and it was not something to be judged for.
In fact, it was almost a non-event.
The next few times I opened my phone I had a similar experience. I was nervous, but when I checked for the response, it was all ok.
Eventually, I no longer felt any hesitation or worry about what comments would be waiting for me. It was as if I had become immune to a) needing to know, and b) caring about how much commentary I received.
What I Learnt
I realised my initial fears prior to posting were more about ‘what would other people think of me?’, rather the actual image of me. The picture was me, and I felt ok with it.
While I hadn’t been ok with the photo previously, any hesitation I had because of my body, became more a concern about what would people say about my body. There is a slight difference, and I think it means a lot.
I have once read ‘what other people think of you is none of your business’. I’ve seen this quote attributed to both Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer, so I am not sure who is the original mastermind who came up with this simple phrase.
However, I have shared this phrase when giving advice to others.
The funny thing about advice? When you realise what you have been sharing with others is directly applicable to your own situation.
What I have learnt from this experience is that:
- Most people are kind and supportive
- But, that doesn’t really matter, because what others think of you is none of your business
- I need to keep practicing ways to increase my confidence
My Next Confidence Quest
From here I am going to keep testing myself, by placing myself in situations where I am nervous, and just getting on with the task at hand. I am going to keep practicing, observing, learning and growing.
For me, I feel this is the best way to build my confidence, and ultimately to live to my potential.
I am keen. Are you?
To see my post that I am referring to, click here.
To see Jenna’s post, the one that went viral, click here.