Instagram is wonderful for many reasons, but here’s one way it causes real damage: If you follow the wrong accounts, you could begin to feel pressure to hit the gym six days a week, maintain a steady diet of green juice and have a six pack immediately after pregnancy.
The hashtag #Fitspo, short for “fit inspiration,” turns up millions of problematic photos and ideas under the guise of healthy living. And, as we’ve written before, arranging your social media feed to bombard you with images of very thin, toned bodies, weight loss stories and diet rules can be a dangerous gateway into the world of disordered eating. In fact, the fitspiration movement has become a growing concern for mental health professionals.
So we were pleased to see one #Fitspo celebrity do an about-face this week.
Maria Kang is the entrepreneur and “fit mom” who made headlines in 2013 with her offensive “What’s Your Excuse?” Facebook photo suggesting busy moms who didn’t exercise are lazy. Today, she has a different message.
Kang recently shared an un-retouched photo of her body on Instagram. She told The Huffington Post that, following weight gain, she had been avoiding professional photo shoots ― until now.
While Kang would normally take weeks to prepare for a photo shoot through intense workouts and calorie restriction, she decided to be photographed on short notice this time.
Jaymi Britten, Kang’s sister-in-law, suggested this new, impromptu photo shoot. “She encouraged me,” said Kang, who has been open about her experiences with disordered eating and negative body image. “She wanted me to see what other people see.”
“Right now, I’ve been feeling a lot of insecurity. I’m going through marital issues, I have three children that are in all different schools, I just felt very insecure internally,” she added.
Just three years ago the ‘Fit Mom’ wrote a Facebook post in which she wondered “how nearly obese women could be proud of their bodies” in reference to Curvy Girl’s Regular Women lingerie campaign. But now she espouses a healthier philosophy:
“Just be proud of where you are in your life’s journey,” Kang wrote on Instagram. “As someone who works with the elderly, I promise you, you will look back at old photos and events when you were insecure and think, ‘what was I thinking?!’”
“It doesn’t matter if you are skinny, fit, overweight or obese, if you don’t live in gratitude, you will never see what you truly have and who you truly are,” she told People.
Now that’s a message we can get behind.
H/T: The Cut
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.