I Am Not a Before Picture + Lessons on Self-Love
Updated: Apr 30, 2019
The voice of wisdom inside my head sounds like a lot of different people. My mom, a podcast host, a fictional character, a blog post I read last week, myself. Sometimes, it sounds like my friend Abigail.
She's definitely one of my top 10 people to follow on social media. If you're missing out on her fiery tweets or empowering Instagram stories (+ the ongoing mouse saga) you are doing just that: MISSING OUT.
Anyways, the other day she was talking to me about body positivity + self image (loaded words, I know). And she said something along the lines of, "I want to remind myself that I'm not a 'Before' picture, while still doing things that are healthy and good."
I'm still thinking about it, to be honest.
How many of us look at ourselves in the mirror and see a "Before" picture?
Raising my hand wildly here, because I know I am the guiltiest among us.
We look at ourselves and fantasize about the future when we'll have clear skin, straight teeth, less cellulite on our thighs, straighter hair, fuller lips, thinner eyebrows, better makeup, skinnier bodies and on and on and on we go. And then when we inevitably we can't meet the crazy standards we have, we go through this cycle of shame, sadness, and self-hatred.
I know it's not just me that's been there.
I've been going there in my mind for a long time.
When I was in the third grade, one of my peers stopped me on the playground after school and told me I wasn't pretty enough to be friends with her "group" anymore. In middle school, I got an honesty box comment on Facebook (if you don't know what this is, it was an app on Facebook that used to allow people to submit their honest feelings about you anonymously - aka pure evil who invented this!!!) that told me I was "really nice, but not that pretty".
These words hurt me then, and I'll admit they can still sting even now. But honestly? That's nothing compared to the words I've spoken over myself.
"You're too ugly."
"You look so fat today."
"You'll never amount to anything."
"No one really likes you, anyways."
I'll admit, I've told those things to myself more times than I could even count. And those comments are way meaner than anything I've ever heard from anyone else. And they're coming from the person that is supposed to be there for me always: Myself.
Can you relate?
The thing is, I know it's a fine balance between motivating yourself to be better and straight up self-hatred. At least it is for me. I know I need to do things like eat well, exercise, wash my face, go to the dentist, look presentable on a somewhat-daily basis in order to succeed as a human being and be the best version of myself.
But --- that doesn't give me the right to belittle and berate myself. Not at all.
So, if you need to hear this today: You are NOT just the before picture.
You are exactly who you are, beautiful and strong and wonderful and unique exactly as you are.
Look, I'm not saying we don't need to improve ourselves. Lord knows I have plenty of room to improve. And I genuienly think it's amazing when people do transform themselves to be stronger and healthier.
All I'm saying is you don't need to add or subtract anything from yourself to be beautiful or strong or good enough. My mentality is usually "I will be good enough when...." When it really should be, "I want to be healthier, but I am still good enough just as I am right now."
You can exercise more, but you won't add any value to yourself as a human being. Your skin could clear out tomorrow, but you won't add any value to yourself as a human being. You could literally transform into Beyonce overnight, but you won't add any value to yourself as a human being.
You, just as you are today, are beautiful and valuable and special and wonderful and deserving of love and celebration every single day.
You're not a before picture.
You're not ugly.
You are good enough.
Like my girl Brene Brown says:
I posted the picture at the top of this post a few weeks ago as part of a hashtag a podcast I love (Chatty Broads) started called #ReleaseItWednesday. They challenged their listeners to post about their insecurities to give them less power over them. Sometimes talking about the things (even when it's scary) can make the thing less powerful and help us to overcome whatever it is.
I posted the picture as a reminder that I'm not a before picture. I am strong and capable, and working hard to make myself better. But a picture that shows that drive is good enough right now, and it doesn't require me to wait for any potential transformation. It's just my body and it is good.
It's easier said than done. But like I've been saying around here lately, half-ass is ass enough. So let's all just try to do the best we can.
Here are my challenges for you this week:
Post your own not-a-before-picture on social media. You can feel free to participate in Release it Wednesday, or use my hashtag #HAIAE (half-ass is ass enough) to let the world know we're all doing the best we can. Tag me in it so I can join in on your fun! My instagram is @emilyamartinblog.
Make a list of affirmations and post them on your mirror or somewhere you'll see them every day. Some examples might include "I am perfect just the way I am." Or, "Being grounded and whole makes me beautiful. I can get there just by being still, breathing, listening to my intuition, and doing what I can to be kind to myself and others." Click here for some more great ideas!
Share your insecurities with someone you trust. I'm always amazed at the power of being able to say, "Me too." Share your story with a friend, parent, therapist and you might be amazed how much they can relate.
Feel free to send me a message or leave a comment letting me know how this post made you feel or your thoughts and feedback.
As always, thank you for joining me today. I appreciate each and every person reading this. Please be sure to follow me on Instagram + share this post with your friends! Seriously, sharing is caring always, but especially when it comes to supporting this blog + me. So, thanks in advance.
✨ GIVEAWAY INFO ✨ - In case you missed it, I'm doing a giveaway on my Instagram this week! Head over there to enter to win a limited edition Hydro Flask featuring the Great Smokey Mountains. Also anytime you use the hashtag #HAIAE on Instagram you will get an entry. The giveaway will close May 6 so be sure to enter soon!