“Does this account spark joy?” I ask myself regularly as I Marie Kondo my Instagram feed. If the account is one rant after another, I typically will not follow. If it is nothing but sales pitches, nope. Instagram is my happy place on the internet, relatively free from the fighting and drama of every other internet place. I also like to be inspired by Instagram accounts, but not made to feel like a failure, and that can be a fine line. Social media comparison can be a real challenge, but I’ve found that people who are great at loving and accepting their real selves, just as they are, encourage me to do the same. So below are three people I love to follow on IG because they really excel at loving their today selves, which definitely sparks joy for me. When I am tempted to lament that my home, my life, and my very self are rarely picture perfect, the example of these Instagram accounts helps me love my real self, just as I am.
Karianna Frey is one of those people that feels like a real friend, as we have followed each other for probably about a decade, but in reality we have never met in real life. Her handle is @kariannafrey and she recently posted a picture of herself on vacation. In the caption she did something I’ve rarely seen a woman do. She mentioned her height and weight. Frey is a taller woman who weighs more than 200 pounds. She also wasn’t sharing her weight to say, “I’ve lost this many pounds so far!” Nope. As far as I know she’s not working toward any weight-loss goals. She was simply sharing her real self in that moment and saying “This is me!” In a world that seems to always convince women that no matter how we look we aren’t perfect enough, it was so refreshing to see someone loving her body and feeling comfortable in her skin.
Another woman I follow is Amanda Martinez Beck, found at @your_body_is_good. Martinez Beck is the author of Lovely: How I Learned to Embrace the Body God Gave Me. She posts daily about fat acceptance and body positivity, and her frequent message of “All bodies are good bodies” is a reminder we could all use, regardless of our body size, but especially those who have internalized the idea that only thin bodies can be good. In her own words, Martinez Beck is a “fat girl”. She has a history of struggling with an eating disorder, and when she was able to embrace her today self, she was also able to see that for her, trying to achieve thinness was a goal that wasn’t in her best interests. Martinez Beck shows that self love isn’t one more mind productivity hack. Maybe adopting a more accepting attitude toward yourself will eventually spur you to work toward some goals, whether mental, physical, professional, or otherwise, but that’s not the point. The real objective is to get yourself to the point where you really understand that even if you accomplish all the personal goals you set for your life, you will still be just as worthy of love then as you are right here, right now.
Another woman I follow is Kristin Moras (@kristinmoras). Moras is open about the challenges of dealing with rosacea and acne. She sends a message of skin positivity and posts images of herself with makeup, and also a number of filter-free, makeup-free images. Again, her acceptance of her beauty and worth as a person whether her acne is covered or not, and whether she is having a rosacea flare-up or her skin is calm at the moment, is incredibly inspiring and encouraging. Seeing her image and messages appearing daily in my feed also helped make me aware of my own internal dialogue when it comes to my appearance and to notice the ways I often let images of perfection influence how I think about myself. I don’t think I’m quite at the level of self-acceptance as Moras is, but I have noticed some positive strides toward that. I’m working towards accepting myself as I am, flaws and all. When I can do that, I notice I am better at accepting the unconditional love of those around me too.
I love that all these accounts show love and acceptance for themselves right where they are—today—rather than thinking that if and when they accomplish whatever personal or physical goal, then they will love and accept themselves. I’m no therapist, but it seems much more mentally healthy to me to love and accept ourselves right where we are, because the truth is that no matter what our present life is like, we are worthy of respect and we do have dignity right now. The way I see it, accepting your today self doesn’t mean that you can’t work toward goals, but it does mean that any goals are undertaken from an attitude of self love rather than shame. In my own experience, negative self talk never motivated me to accomplish anything, in fact it probably made me accomplish less for the simple fact that shame is never empowering. Furthermore, simply shaming myself for not doing something also prevented me from getting in touch with the real reasons behind any behavior. If, say, I had a completely unproductive day, telling myself I was lazy stopped me from asking questions to get to the root of things. Was I feeling overwhelmed? Did a number of things outside my control happen that just ended up derailing my day? Did I have unreasonable expectations about how much I can accomplish in a day in this stage of my life? Furthermore, self love can also help us evaluate our goals with an attitude of freedom, only choosing those goals that are really in our own best interests and letting go of goals that aren’t really serving us.
All of these women remind me to reorient my thinking about myself. Amanda Martinez Beck often explicitly says (and all of the above accounts portray) that our bodies are made for relationships, not perfection. That means that sick bodies, healthy bodies, and bodies of every age, size, ability, or state of imperfection can be in healthy and loving relationships with others. I’ve found that when I see other women loving their today selves, it gives me permission to love my today self too. And I’m beginning to see that when I can love me, I can allow others to love me too, because I’m made for relationships, not perfection.