I was always content with the shape of my body. I never really had major weight issues either. I inherited my small bone structure and my small frame from my mom. I guess you can say I have those good Caribbean genes. I have long arms, long legs, and a short torso. But I also carry my weight well. So, when I gain or lose weight, the distribution of weight is evenly proportioned. At 36, I'm fully grown. I stand 5'4", a DD+, and I don't know where all this ass came from. Now I have a butt I never used to have.
I can't complain. I'm hella thick for my height and frame. But this wasn't always the case. I mean, I was always just skinny. I have always had full breasts, but I also have small, straight, narrow hips. Like, there is no curve to my hips at all.
I used to jokingly say I inherited my Indian side of the family. In my 20s, I was obsessed with wanting perfectly round hips. No matter how many squats, hip adductors, or side leg raises I did, I couldn't achieve what I saw on reality TV or social media.
For reference, I used to be a little obsessive over the Kardashians, Draya Michele, IG models, or fitness influencers. I wanted that hourglass figure that all the Kardashian sisters had.
Slim waist and perfectly curved hips—I wanted that. But it wasn't until recently that I realized this could never be. It's not scientifically possible. Why? Because of the way my hip bones are structured. Skinny or thick, I've accepted that I'm always going to have hip dips.
I can't change my bone structure or how my hips look unless I opt for plastic surgery or Photoshop the hell out of my photos. But none of that is realistic to me, and I do not want to portray an image that doesn't align with what I believe in. However, this is what we see on social media every day.
Our social media feeds are flooded with edited and enhanced faces and bodies.
Self-Image and Social Media
There is no question that social media affects our self-image. Women continuously hurt their body images by constant comparison, Photoshop, filters, and browsing through hashtags like "fitspo." It's like our brain doesn't realize we're comparing ourselves to images that are not 100 percent real. This behavior ultimately leads to disappointment by creating unrealistic ideals for ourselves.
I think this Time magazine article said it best: "If the Internet has been called a great democratizer, perhaps what social media has done is let anyone enter the beauty pageant." The same article points out that when we edit photos to attract positive attention, we create a false sense of control. This leads to a disconnect between perception and reality. We might feel one way about ourselves in real life and feel another about our online persona.
We set ourselves up in trying to achieve these expectations and then stress ourselves out when we cannot meet them.
Does anyone see how unhealthy this is? Because I do. There isn't supposed to be a disconnect between who we are in real life and online.
What The Studies Show
According to an article byInsider, research shows the more time we spend on social media, the worse we feel about our bodies. In 2018, one study found a correlation between time spent on social media, negative body image, and eating disorders. And a stronger correlation was found if the participant was scrolling through appearance-related content.
In a study conducted by a health institution, the Florida House Experience, 87 percent of women compare their bodies to images on social and traditional media.
In the same study, 50 percent of women considered their bodies unfavorable. Social media can also affect pre-existing mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. So, if you already struggle with self-image and body dissatisfaction, social media can trigger or exacerbate these issues.
Forbesinterviewed Jennifer Henry, a counselor at Maryville University, who stated:
"Increasing awareness of how we look and specifically, how to obtain the 'best' angle, pose, lighting, filter for social media. It's not unusual to see really young girls posing for pictures doing the 'skinny arm' pose or the 'duck face,' instead of just goofing around and having fun. We are missing out on actual experiences by focusing on how to get the best picture of it for our social media pages."
Where is the lie?
I'll admit it. Like many other women, I let social media get the best of me by comparing my body to altered photos of models, celebrities, and the bodies of fitness influencers. I know the feelings associated with this all too well. Frustration, stress, and self-doubt. I too was obsessed with the notion of "If I did this or that, I could achieve this body type," damn well knowing social media standards are not realistic by any means. This is partly why I'm on social media break now. I got tired of paying attention to other people's bodies and lives when I should be embracing my own body and pouring into my own life. And now, I'm just focused on loving my natural self and making healthy improvements where I can.
When it comes to learning to embrace your natural self, social media—more so Instagram—is not a standard you want to compare yourself to.
Compare yourself to the person you are today, yesterday, and the day before that. She is who you are trying to impress.
Your standard of beauty lies within yourself.
Featured image via Getty Images
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Camille is a lover of all things skin, curls, music, justice, and wanderlust; oceans and islands are her thing. Her words inspire and her power is her voice. A California native with Trinidadian roots, she has penned personal essays, interviews, and lifestyle pieces for POPSUGAR, Medium, FEMI magazine, and SelfishBabe. Camille is currently creating a life she loves through words, self-love, fitness, travel, and empowerment. You can follow her on Instagram @cam_just_living or @written_by_cam.
How Content Creators Hey Fran Hey And Shameless Maya Embraced The Pivot
This article is in partnership with Meta Elevate.
If you’ve been on the internet at all within the past decade, chances are the names Hey Fran Hey and Shameless Maya (aka Maya Washington) have come across your screen. These content creators have touched every platform on the web, spreading joy to help women everywhere live their best lives. From Fran’s healing natural remedies to Maya’s words of wisdom, both of these content creators have built a loyal following by sharing honest, useful, and vulnerable content. But in search of a life that lends to more creativity, freedom, and space, these digital mavens have moved from their bustling big cities (New York City and Los Angeles respectively) to more remote locations, taking their popular digital brands with them.
Content Creators Hey Fran Hey and Maya Washington Talk "Embracing The Pivot"www.youtube.com
In partnership with Meta Elevate — an online learning platform that provides Black, Hispanic, and Latinx-owned businesses access to 1:1 mentoring, digital skills training, and community — xoNecole teamed up with Franscheska Medina and Maya Washington on IG live recently for a candid conversation about how they’ve embraced the pivot by changing their surroundings to ultimately bring out the best in themselves and their work. Fran, a New York City native, moved from the Big Apple to Portland, Oregon a year ago. Feeling overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of city life, Fran headed to the Pacific Northwest in search of a more easeful life.
Her cross-country move is the backdrop for her new campaign with Meta Elevate— a perfectly-timed commercial that shows how you can level up from wherever you land with the support of free resources like Meta Elevate. Similarly, Maya packed up her life in Los Angeles and moved to Sweden, where she now resides with her husband and adorable daughter. Maya’s life is much more rural and farm-like than it had been in California, but she is thriving in this peaceful new setting while finding her groove as a new mom.
While Maya is steadily building and growing her digital brand as a self-proclaimed “mom coming out of early retirement,” Fran is redefining her own professional grind. “It’s been a year since I moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon,” says Fran. “I think the season I’m in is figuring out how to stay successful while also slowing down.” A slower-paced life has unlocked so many creative possibilities and opportunities for these ladies, and our conversation with them is a well-needed reminder that your success is not tied to your location…especially with the internet at your fingertips. Tapping into a community like Meta Elevate can help Black, Hispanic, and Latinx entrepreneurs and content creators stay connected to like minds and educated on new digital skills and tools that can help scale their businesses.
During a beautiful moment in the conversation, Fran gives Maya her flowers for being an innovator in the digital space. Back when “influencing” was in its infancy and creators were just trying to find their way, Fran says Maya was way ahead of her time. “I give Maya credit for being one of the pioneers in the digital space,” Fran said. “Maya is a one-person machine, and I always tell her she really changed the game on what ads, campaigns, and videos, in general, should look like.”
When asked what advice she’d give content creators, Maya says the key is having faith even when you don’t see the results just yet. “It’s so easy to look at what is, despite you pouring your heart into this thing that may not be giving you the returns that you thought,” she says. “Still operate from a place of love and authenticity. Have faith and do the work. A lot of people are positive thinkers, but that’s the thinking part. You also have to put your faith into work and do the work.”
Fran ultimately encourages content creators and budding entrepreneurs to take full advantage of Meta Elevate’s vast offerings to educate themselves on how to build and grow their businesses online. “It took me ten years to get to the point where I’m making ads at this level,” she says. “I didn’t have those resources in 2010. I love the partnership with Meta Elevate because they’re providing these resources for free. I just think of the people that wouldn’t be able to afford that education and information otherwise. So to amplify a company like this just feels right.”
Watch the full conversation with the link above, and join the Meta Elevate community to connect with fellow businesses and creatives that are #OnTheRiseTogether.
Featured image courtesy of Shameless Maya and Hey Fran Hey
What We Can All Learn About Boss Moves From Nicole Lynn And Jalen Hurts's $225 Million Win
It's no surprise that a Black woman is the phenomenal agent behind getting Jalen Hurt a record-breaking $225 million Philadelphia Eagles contract. I mean, Nicole Lynn has been a force to be reckoned with for quite some time, and y'all know we, as Black women, have that special mojo (along with the tenacity, smarts, and hard work) to get ish done.
Yep, I said it. Toot. Toot.
When the news broke about Hurt becoming the highest-paid player in NFL history (another feat for a Black king that we should be shouting about from the mountaintops for centuries to come), it was refreshing to see Lynn actually get her flowers as a professional who paid her dues and boldly achieved excellence.
Let's take a look at a few lessons we can all learn about business, career advancement, and legacy from Lynn's journey to success:
1. Being strategic about the career path you choose is essential.
Lynn studied business management, earned a law degree, and worked on Wall Street before becoming the first woman to represent PlayersRep, an NFL agency. (By the way, that company was acquired by Lil' Wayne's Young Money APAA Sport's Agency. Yes, Young Moolah, baby.) She went on to thrive as one of the youngest sports agents in the game.
Her education and background working in the tough and high-stress world of financial services (in one of the most competitive and powerful markets in the world) surely prepped her for her current success in sports, and she was super-deliberate about that.
"Every educational and career decision I made has been extremely calculated with the same endgame in mind," Lynn told xoNecole in a 2019 interview. "I realize it can be rare for someone to almost always have known what they wanted to do in life, but that was the case for me."
2. When possible, allow adversity and challenges to fuel your drive to succeed.
According to her website, Lynn attributes her success to the mindset shift she experienced that was sparked by her time facing adversity as a child. "I knew I wanted to escape that life, and I had to work hard to do it. So I have always done just that. I owe every bit of success I've achieved to my extremely dedicated work ethic and my unwavering faith in God."
Many ambitious and successful Black women who are pioneers in their fields have shared their stories of overcoming adversity within both their personal and professional journeys, especially when they have to fight against sexism and racism in order to break glass ceilings.
"I know that I have worked extremely hard to get here and that I am just as capable as my male counterparts. For this reason, I went into this industry knowing that I didn't want to just exist," she told xoNecole. "I made it a goal of mine to break stereotypes and make history. When my client's name was called at the 2019 NFL Draft, two people's dreams came true. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be recognized as the first and I look forward to continuing to shift the perception of women in this industry."
3. Take time to learn from others in your network and industry—even if they don't look like you—in order to reach new career heights.
"I was preparing to be a financial adviser and then learned through our financial advisers that represented athletes," she told Sports Illustrated. When she ventured into working in sports full-time, legendary agent Ken Sarnoff was reportedly her mentor. In a male-dominated industry where super-agents represent 90% of NFL players, networking and learning from others, whether they look like you or not.
Sadly, equity has not been achieved for women in many industries, and while women have found comradery, sponsorship, and advocacy from other women, many who have moved up the ranks are mentored by men.
(I'm no millionaire superagent, but several of my most prolific and life-changing mentors who poured into me and actually advocated for me in ways that led to true advancement and career development were men, a bittersweet fact of life for ambitious women professionals.)
The main point of this: Connect with professionals not just because they are from the same culture or neighborhood or just because they identify as the same gender as you. Find ways to work with people who you can relate to, and who you can learn from. And in return, serve by offering your own talents and perspective to ensure growth and prosperity in what you do.
4. Adopt a holistic approach in doing the work you do so that you're truly a leader.
Lynn has been touted as a successful agent who goes beyond just brokering deals and gets into the holistic needs of her clients. “I'd say the job of an agent is to negotiate a contract for a player, get them on a team,” Lynn told Sports Illustrated. “That is it. That is what we are paid to do. I'm passionate about teaching financial literacy, teaching ‘adulting’ skills, and really getting these guys across the finish line, and in and out of a career in the NFL into the rest of their lives.”
The fact that she reportedly sees things beyond just the dollar signs when it comes to her clients says a lot about her vision and integrity. It's also something that can be advantageous when you're trying to build a legacy with what you do for a living versus just chasing checks. Caring about the people you work with and for, and taking a stance of service ensures that you'll not only build lasting relationships that go beyond the superficial but that you'll be remembered as someone who is a true leader.
Having vision and taking on the holistic approach in all that you do (whether it's related to projects, goals, or professional relationships) ensures you can see the big picture, add real value that stands the test of time, and be strategic.
Lynn's record-breaking success serves as a reminder we all need that hard work, intelligence, and vision are vital to be among the greats in one's industry and to reach our highest professional potential.
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Featured image by Marcus Ingram / Stringer/Getty Images