On Body Image and Health

Jess Ann Kirby talks about her body image and health as an influencer and a woman in the age of social media.

Inevitably anytime I post a photo of me in a bathing suit or anything that reveals my body more than normal the messages, comments and emails start pouring in (I’m being slightly dramatic but it’s a significant amount). How do you stay so slim? What’s your secret? What diet do you follow? Can you share your fitness and eating habits? Meanwhile, if the photo is reposted by another account (Anthropologie for example) the inevitable body shaming ensues, “eat a burger,” ” she looks sick,” “why are you promoting anorexia,”  “this is disgusting why would anyone want to look like that” etc. etc. In general, in media and society being thin is celebrated, I understand there’s a certain privilege with being slim. But being thin does not equal being healthy, the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

I’m generally a healthy person, I eat well, I don’t drink alcohol often, I get 9 hours of sleep (almost) every night. But I am not a vision of health. I don’t exercise nearly enough, I’m trying to be better about that. There are plenty of women with different body types than me that are much healthier and more fit than I am. If we did an experiment and had 5 women eat the exact same thing and do the same workout routine for a month, we wouldn’t end up with the same body type at the end of it. I follow a healthy balanced diet, I don’t eat dairy, eggs or meat and I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. I gave up meat, eggs and dairy for a variety of reasons, my skin, the environment, my love for animals, but that doesn’t mean you should do the same. I like to eat healthy because it makes me feel good and as a migraine sufferer I have to be careful about the foods I eat. But I hate the thought of promoting the idea if you eat what I eat, we’ll look the same, it just doesn’t work like that.

I generally have a healthy body image but I also realize as I mentioned before, there’s privilege that comes with being thin. And while it’s not enjoyable to be called anorexic or be asked by complete strangers if I eat, I don’t endure the same treatment and criticism of someone that’s a larger size. My point is that there’s no way to know just by looking at someone’s size if they are healthy. I don’t feel comfortable sitting here and telling you what you should do and eat so you can look more like me. I can tell you eating healthy will make you feel good, and that’s my biggest motivator. I don’t deprive myself of things when I want them. If I’m craving something I eat it, but I also realize that we all have different relationships with food and I am oversimplifying what can be a very complex and complicated issue.

I guess the reason why I am writing this post is because I am tired of seeing women comment negatively about each other’s bodies. We are force fed so much garbage from the media and society about how we should look. We are constantly being told that we aren’t good enough, and that there’s always things we can and should fix or change. I’m happy to see brands and public figures embracing more diverse body types and promoting body positivity but I think we still have a long way to go.

If there’s anything I hope you take away from reading this it’s that you are enough. Instead of worrying about a number on a scale or the size of your jeans, focus on how you feel. Do you feel healthy and strong? Do you feel confident and happy? Because those things are a thousand times more important than whatever size or weight you (or anyone else) think you should be.

One Piece Swimsuit // Sunglasses // Missoma Choker Necklace // Missoma Evil Eye Necklace

Jess Ann Kirby opens up about her feelings on body image and health especially in the age of social media.

 

14 Comments

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  1. Rach says:

    Thank you Jess for this post! It’s a shame that other women have to shame others. Everyone is built different. I love that regardless the negative comments you get, you still stay true to yourself! Plus, you pick out the CUTEST swimsuits!

    http://www.rdsobsessions.com

  2. Kandice says:

    This post hits home! Weight is something I think about every single day. As a child I was too thin, as a teen who hit early puberty…My chest couldn’t have been real. As an adult who discovered food and wasn’t a picky eater anymore I put on weight, and while I was by no means obese family members would constantly make comments. As if I didn’t own a mirror. I decided to work on it and even with all the working out and eating healthy I could never manage to lose more than 10 of the 20 lbs I had gained. Funnily enough I had only went up one jeans/dress size. After having my first child I discovered a new love for working out and it became a part of my lifestyle. I would lose and gain 10 more pounds over and over from breast feeding and stopping, but was healthier on the inside as ever. Now after having my second I can’t seem to lose the last 10 lbs again. I was re admitted to the hospital 2 weeks after I had my newborn with sepsis. Terrible 8 day stay with my kids. While I was there I was concerned with the medicines making me gain weight, stopping me from losing baby weight. Pure insanity. Always 10, always wishing, always chasing it. It’s exhausting. Trying to give myself grace when I’m too tired to care to workout when I have a baby who won’t sleep through the night. But it’s hard when all you see is mostly perfection everyday on Instagram etc.. I love when you said we can all eat the same and do the same workouts yet have different results. That is so true. I feel I’m finally coming to terms with myself and that I just fluctuate and when I have more time to dedicate I’ll get back to where I want to be. I’m ok with myself. It’s other people’s opinions that I always worry about. Sad. But true. Anyways what a ramble, you’re gorgeous and a great writer to boot! Love following along!

    • Jessica says:

      Thank you so much for sharing Kandice. So true, it’s often the opinions of others that end up having the biggest impact on how we feel about ourselves. Glad to hear you are giving yourself grace, particularly as a Mom, that is so important. Life is hard enough without the added pressure of achieving “perfection” which at the end of the day is not realistic and is an idea sold to us to make us feel like we are not enough, but if we just do/buy this thing it will get us closer to being “better.” I think these conversations help remind us all we’re just trying to do our best. xx

  3. Julia says:

    I am with you! Great post Jess.

  4. Kelsey M. says:

    Thanks so much for this post! I have struggled with my weight and body image forever. In the last 1.5 years I have gained a lot of weight and I currently weigh the most I ever have. BUT I am also the happiest and mentally healthiest I have even been! You are 100% right, weight doesn’t show how healthy (or happy) anyone is. In my younger years I engaged in a ton of negative and destructive behavior and although I was thinner, I was NOT healthy by any stretch of the imagination. I still struggle with body image, but I am working hard now to just take care of my health, both mental and physical. I’m not a big workout person, but I try to live a generally active lifestyle by doing a lot of walking around my city, hiking on weekends, gardening, kayaking, and things like that. People don’t need to be going to the gym 5 days a week to be considered active or healthy and they don’t need to be drinking green juices everyday either. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and keep spreading the light!

  5. Julia Dzafic says:

    Beautifully said. You’re amazing!

  6. Christine says:

    It is INSANE to me comments that need to be made on appearance. Yes, sometimes a compliment is nice when you feel like you’re rocking it. But to comment on someone’s body is uncomfortable. When pregnant it rarely was “congrats- when are you due?”. It was “having twins?” Or “you cant tell you’re pregnant from behind!”. Now post baby “it’s like you never had a baby!” or “not that far to go before pre baby weight!”. As you point out- everyone is different. Everyone’s lives are different. Everyone goes through things in their lives that affect their body and perhaps they don’t want it pointed out to them. As always you’re so eloquent when speaking on these issues! Way to start the coversation!

    • Laura says:

      Omg- as a pregnant woman myself I also agree that somehow women’s bodies become public property. A good friend of mine told me that after giving birth her dad was like ‘you’re halfway there to your pre-pregnancy weight.’ Wtf. Why this overpreoccupation with women’s bodies? Find something more interesting and real to talk about! Thank you for sharing, Christine!

  7. Natalie says:

    I love this post and am so glad you decided to share these thoughts! These words are so powerful and true: “Instead of worrying about a number on a scale or the size of your jeans, focus on how you feel. Do you feel healthy and strong? Do you feel confident and happy? Because those things are a thousand times more important than whatever size or weight you (or anyone else) think you should be.” Thanks for touching on this subject!

  8. Rachelle says:

    It’s 2019 and it baffles me that people don’t yet understand genetics. Some people are naturally slim, some are bigger. The worse is that people feel compelled to comment on it, it makes me so ragey. smh
    My friend is naturally slim even after having kids and people continuously comment on her body and her thinness. So rude.

    xo
    Pinksole

  9. Lynn says:

    I didn’t see this page to leave a comment, but I made a strong one on instagram which is under Lynnie0642. I am pretty shocked that anyone would even think of saying things that refer to body image to a beautiful and bright person with so much compassion and honesty. I said a lot on Instagram so no point in reiterating those words. The world that I knew and grew up in was a much kinder and much more supportive and tolerant environment. There were no blogs or Facebook so I don’t know what people thought or blurted out and shared. I just know one has to be ok with themselves and the way they live their own lives and you do that magnificently Jess. Thank you for being true to who you are . ❤️❤️❤️

  10. Cheryl says:

    Jess,
    As someone who was judged for years because of my weight, your post touched me. Thank you for so eloquently speaking to the fact that we are all doing the best we can. If we keep our eyes on our own path, we allow others the grace to do the same.
    Cheryl

  11. Faye says:

    Thank you for posting this. As a larger woman, I get the opposite and it took a looong time to accept myself and my body. I think the power lies with us as women treating each other better – building each other up and not letting the media and jealousy undermine our power.