As a fitness influencer, 20-year-old Mary Jelkovsky regularly posted social media images meant to inspire others. What her followers didn’t know, however, is that she was actually lacking body confidence. Feeling pressure to look a certain way, she would pose and angle her body so she appeared fitter and thinner than she really was.
Jelkovsky has come clean, and she’s decided she’s done comparing herself with her fellow #fitspo influencers. On Tuesday, she took to Instagram to explain why she felt pressured to pose in her photos.
“The funny thing is, I was friends with many fitness competitors and models and I’d WATCH them [Photoshop] their pics,” she said in the caption of her post. “But when I’d see the same EDITED photo on my feed I’d still compare my body to theirs and feel unworthy (knowing full well that it was [Photoshopped])!!”
When I was in the fitness industry and sharing only #fitspo on IG, I spent soooo much time trying to make myself look “fitter” in photos…poses, angles, butt selfies, sucking in, arching my back, holding my breath, flexing, editing shadows, and the list goes on. . . The funny thing is, I was friends with many fitness competitors and models and I’d WATCH them photoshop their pics, but when I’d see the same EDITED photo on my feed I’d still compare my body to theirs and feel unworthy (knowing full well that it was photoshopped)!! . . We admire people who look a certain way on their Instagram photos, but half (most) of the time that’s not even reality. . . I mentioned before how I only see one body type doing things like traveling and yoga as if “Insta-worthy” activities are only reserved for one size ? Especially on the explore page, it drives me crazy! ? . . In a world where everything has to be manipulated to fit society’s beauty ideals I think we all could benefit from more natural-ness, more #selflove, and more diversity ? . . And how much better would life be if we just embraced our bodies and showed up as our REAL selves and empowered others to do the same??? ? . . Have you ever compared yourself to someone online? I’d love to hear your experience if you can relate ♥️ . . . . #allbodiesaregoodbodies #effyourbeautystandards #selfloveisthebestlove #bodypositivity #beyoutiful #bodyposi #loveyourcurves #bodyimage #nourishnotpunish #losehatenotweight #selfacceptance #edrecovery #bodyconfidence #selfconfidence
In her post, Jelkovsky captioned her before-and-after photos “Instagram” and “Reality.” The former shows Jelkovsky with her leggings hiked up, shoulders back, and right foot bent. In the second image, you see her looking more relaxed. She attributed the difference to “poses, angles, butt selfies, sucking in, arching my back, holding my breath, flexing, [and] editing shadows.”
Jelkovsky tells Health that she struggled with anorexia and bulimia, which were exacerbated by participating in bikini fitness competitions. She’s since shared her story of recovery on Instagram and how she started embracing a more body positive attitude.
7 lies the diet industry tells us: 1️⃣You’ll be happy if you lose weight. 2️⃣All you need to do to lose weight is diet and exercise. 3️⃣ Dieting is healthy. 4️⃣ You’ll be more confident if you lose weight. 5️⃣ Dieting means you’re “taking care of yourself.” 6️⃣ Thin people live longer. 7️⃣ You’ll feel better in a bikini if you lose weight for summer. . . I was not healthy, mentally, physically or spiritually when I was doing all the fitness stuff you see on Instagram. I didn’t sleep, my digestion was out of wack, my brain was foggy, and I was so drained not only from exercising and restricting, but also from the inner battle of an eating disorder. . . Look, I know what it’s like to feel pressured by society to lose weight, but just remember that they have their own agenda and YOUR ?FREEDOM ? IS ? MORE ? IMPORTANT ? . . So don’t let anyone manipulate you into sacrificing your health & happiness for weight loss and disguising it as “fitness” or “self-care.” . . FREEDOM is about making decisions for you and your body without being oppressed by diet culture. . . Disclaimer: I’m not saying there’s no healthy way to work on your actual fitness, but please please please be conscientious about WHY and HOW you’re doing it ?
When I first decided to be a fitness competitor, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I thought that a bikini show was the perfect way to “stay accountable” and “have more discipline.” So for 16 weeks I did what the “coach” told me to do: eat 900 calories, lift light weights for high reps, run on the treadmill for 45-90 minutes per day and become utterly OBSESSED. *Side note: I was 16 years old.* The day of the show I was dehydrated, constipated, and exhausted but apparently this was totally normal in the industry so I got on stage anyways and traded my self-worth for a piece of plastic ? It wasn’t until years later that I realized that in dire pursuit of the “perfect body”, I neglected the mental, spiritual, and emotional aspects of health ? #Fitspo is over-fucking-rated. Trophies are cool but you know what’s even cooler? Having a loving relationship with your body, a healthy relationship with food, and most importantly, an identity that is NOT about your appearance. I’ve won trophies for my “perfect body” before, but I didn’t win at LIFE until I stopped letting my body weight, shape and size define me ? . . Have you ever compromised your well-being while chasing the “perfect body”? . . . . #winningatlife #effyourbeautystandards
“I took that photo because I’ve been doing quite a bit of hiking and yoga and I noticed that only very thin girls post yoga pictures or travel pictures,” she says. “So instead of twisting and turning to be thinner, my girlfriend who was taking the pic said ‘just laugh’ and it felt so freeing to just be me.”
Jelkovesky ended her Instagram post with a call to action.
“In a world where everything has to be manipulated to fit society’s beauty ideals I think we all could benefit from more natural-ness, more #selflove, and more diversity,” she wrote. “And how much better would life be if we just embraced our bodies and showed up as our REAL selves and empowered others to do the same???”
Self-love and being real? That’s something we all want to see more of on social media.
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