Confession: I’ve just scrolled back through to January 2016 of this girl’s Instagram and screenshot around 13 pics of her in a sports bra and leggings/ bralette and trousers/ underwear or bikini because I was thinking yes yes this girl is my #bodygoals. I want her body. I will have her body. Then, with the speed of light, I came up with a mental plan of getting this body which involved training twice a day, never touching a carb, and basically a bizarre case whereby a weird British girl cut off her own head and tried to attach it to the shoulders of a female fitness Instagram celebrity with 750k followers because she wanted to attain her body so badly.
Too much? Ok, maybe.
You know, I do this quite regularly – screenshot people’s photos, that is – but it’s only just now writing that sentence that’s made me realise how weird that is and I’m starting to question whether or not I’m a creepy cyber stalker or just another regular 20-something woman but hey, that’s a whole other blog post. The truth is though, we all do it – for fashion inspo, makeup inspo, hair inspo and body inspo. Tell me you don’t and I’ll call you a liar. The inpsiration screenshot is as much a part of millennial female life as Real Technique’s stippling brush and Tinder. But whilst it’s fine to draw your own goals and aspirations from others in many aspects of life (Michelle Obama you are my hero and I love you), I’ve come to realise that having someone else as your body goals is a very very unhealthy attitude to have.
Women come in all shapes and sizes – it’s one of the things that makes our beauty so diverse and interesting. Tall, short, slim, athletic, boyish, curvy, pear-shaped – the list goes on. At the end of last year I got a personal trainer – my friend Susie (check her out at Wellsbeing fitness, she’s a superstar) – and one of the first things we spoke about in our sessions was the importance of knowing your body and being realistic with your goals. For example, I would absolutely love to have slimmer legs and hips, but my frame has always been curvaceous. Even at my slimmest, my thighs were always thicker than the rest of me (hiya saddle bags) and my hips always wide. That’s just my body. I told Susie how I look at women on the internet and get jealous of their bodies, yet due to my frame, I’ll never have that kind of physique no matter how much I train. But acknowledging that has been really important in order to accept myself and learn to make the most of my body instead of trying to make it someone else’s.
You have to work with the body that you have. Having someone else as your body goals is in most cases unrealistic because they probably have a different frame to you. You can change what you have, but you can’t change what you don’t have.
I’ve spent years idolising women on the internet, punishing myself over not looking like them, when in reality, many of them have physiques are simply unattainable for a frame like mine no matter how much I train or how little I eat. It’s like the thigh-gap phenomenon. Everyone was obsessed with it – I was obsessed with it, spending an hour on mind-numbing cardio trying to achieve it during every gym session. But it has more to do with your bone structure, making it almost impossible for some women to attain without diminishing your muscle content in your legs way drastically. It’s like saying I want to be 6ft! Which is obviously impossible as I’ve been solidly cemented me solidly at 5″3. It’s just not gonna happen babes.
And it’s the same for another popular (and grossly unattainable) body trend: the Ab Crack – that little line super-toned women can sometimes get down the middle of their stomachs, above their belly buttons. But that’s also almost impossible for many women to achieve because according to Sapan Seghal of London Fields Fitness, you need to be genetically predisposed to getting it, probably have train twice a day, and consume zero sugar. And even with that, you still may not be able to attain this look.
But when we’re bombarded with these images of women with these figures across social media, it naturally makes it seem like we are the ones in the minority with our love handles and saddle bags, and everyone else is frolicking on the beach without fear of cellulite or the smallest wobble of fat. Truthfully, I’m a little sceptical about the reality of it all. We’re all aware of the kind of bodies these women have – I call it slim-curvy. It’s when they’re very slender, but toned, and still have the ‘desirable’ curves of a sculpted waist skimming into enviably sized hips. But when talking about this to my housemate the other day, we said we don’t know, or see anyone in actual real life who looks like that. Of course these women do exist, we just never see them as they’re in the gym 24/7.
Only joking. It’s just they’re not as common IRL as Instagram life may dictate.
Celebrities, fitness models, super models and women bossing it on Instagram are making a living from looking like this, so you can’t set them as your body goals because it’s unrealistic and unfair on yourself. Few of us have the time to dedicate to looking just like that. If you have one of these perfect Instagram bodies naturally, then girl, I and a million other women salute you – but I’m sure you have insecurities too or would like to change things about yourself. We all do. We’re human after all, and we always seem to want what we don’t have.
I’m not going to stop wanting to have the same physique as the women I idolise on the internet, but I can accept that I won’t ever have a body quite like theirs – all I can do is make my body the one that makes me the healthiest and happiest and most confident I can be. And that, for me, is a far better approach than comparing, idolising, and punishing myself over something I’ll never be able to attain.
So screenshot the images and use them to admire and better yourself – use them for good. But please, never fall into the trap of comparing yourself.