I went to Bali over the Christmas break and, as much as I'd love to say I enjoyed every minute of it, that'd be a lie. Not because of anything to do with Bali specifically, but because of how I feel about my body.
I'm 27 years old, and while I'll admit I don't have as many body hang-ups as I did in my teens or early twenties, they're still there.
Planning our Bali trip was exciting and terrifying, because for the first time in a long time I was travelling with friends. Beautiful friends. The type of friends who don't need Photoshop or filters, because they're that good-looking. They're also smart, caring, hilarious and incredibly fun to be around, but I've never heard someone say 'make sure you capture my wit' before snapping a selfie. Have you?
I was worried about what I'd look like in a bikini next to them. I was worried a photo of me looking 'fat' would wind up on social media. And I was angry at myself for caring in the first place and feeling the pressure to care at all.
There are countless reasons people develop a love/hate relationship with their body, but figuring out why you hate your own is tricky. I believe in Feminism and being judged for more than my looks. I get angry when someone slut-shames Kim Kardashian for sharing a naked picture on Instagram. But at the same time, the very pic that is empowering to her makes me feel self-conscious.
It's conflicting to feel happy that women, like Kardashian, are comfortable enough in their own skin to share it with the world while simultaneously wishing women, like Kardashian, would stop sharing naked selfies because of how it makes me feel.
I worked in magazines from the age of 18 and I saw all the Photoshopping that went on, yet I still feel the pressure to look like the edited photos in real life. Which is weird, right? You'd think after seeing the 'truth' I'd be cured. But despite what I know and saw, I feel like everyone else is expecting me to look that way too. They don't know what I do, which to my mind means they won't stop comparing me to the edited images in their feeds.
It's not useful to point the finger at Instagram. The whole purpose of the platform is to share photos and videos, and obviously the more attractive those photos and videos are, the better they'll perform. I love looking at pretty images in my feed and we already have a social network that rewards good banter, it's called 'group chat'. The one I share with my friends, also known as 'Girls Are Here', is my favourite place on the Internet. There's no judgement or comparisons, just feel good chit chat, jokes and congratulations when one of us shares good news.
I don't know what the answer is or how we're supposed to encourage young women like me to truly love themselves. But I do know there's nothing relaxing about a summer holiday when you hate your body. Digging into a juicy burger at BO$$MAN and drinking cocktails by the pool is far more enjoyable than poking my 'pudgy' bits and worrying about what other people think of me. And the truth is, they probably don't think about my body at all. At least not the way I do.