Black Coachella dress from H&M // inspirationindulgence.com

Body image.

I feel like in America, those simple two words have an extremely negative connotation. Before I get into my thoughts and my personal battle with my body image, I want to throw some facts at you to get your wheels turning.

Did you know that…

  • More than 90 percent of girls – 15 to 17 years – want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance, with body weight ranking the highest.
  • 80% of children who are 10 years old are afraid of being fat.
  • 80% of 10-year-old girls have dieted.
  • 90% of high school junior and senior women diet regularly.

Black Coachella dress from H&M // inspirationindulgence.com

How depressing are those statistics?

We live in a world that is consumed with media. I challenge you to try to go just ONE HOUR without media. You simply cannot do it. From billboards we see driving by, magazine ads, TV commercials, to ads that pop up on our phones.

Now let me give you some statistics about the media…

  • 69% of girls in 5th – 12th grades reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape .
  • An average US woman is 5’4” tall weighing 140 pounds; the average US model is 5’11” weighing 117 pounds.
  • Following the viewing of images of female fashion models, seven out of ten women felt more depressed and angrier than prior to viewing the images.
  • Approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape, yet only 5% of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by Americans in the media.

Black Coachella dress from H&M // inspirationindulgence.com

I’m here today to share with you my personal journey with my self-esteem and weight insecurites throughout the past 5-7 years of my life. My hope is that by being vulnerable with you, I can encourage you all to be confident in your own skin. Although I am a healthy weight and would probably be characterized as underweight than the national average for my height, I often times don’t feel like I am. Like nearly ever woman, I’ve seen photos in magazines with skinny models that have made me want to starve myself for the rest of the day. I’ve watched the Victoria’s Secret fashion show and then shamed myself for eating pizza while watching it. I’ve looked in the mirror and wished that my body looked like someone’s else.

I still remember in 8th grade when a kid called me “Thunder Thighs” in geography class. Feelings of hurt, embarrassment, and confusion consumed me because I thought at the time that I was skinny and in shape. That comment stuck with me throughout the years, and is something I’ll never forget. Just goes to show you how crazy it is that we as CHILDREN care so much about our body image at such a young age. It makes me scared to death to raise a daughter in this world.

The school I went to for undergrad was ranked in the top 10 fittest campuses in the U.S. It was a school highly acclaimed for their physical therapy and sports science programs, so there was so much pressure on my campus to be fit and thin. I remember feeling like I was one of the “ugly” ones on campus; I constantly felt surrounded by thin, tall blondes who were on they way to becoming personal trainers or athletic trainers. It was especially hard for me because I gained the inevitable “freshmen 15.” EVERYONE was fit, and EVERYONE was obsessed with it. Still throughout my 4.5 years of undergrad, I don’t ever recall seeing one obese person on my campus. Don’t get me wrong- there is absolutely nothing wrong with being fit; I highly encourage it! But when I heard the statistic that 6/10 girls on my campus had an eating disorder, and that’s when I knew we had a problem.

The pressure was so real. I remember going to the gym my freshmen year at 10pm- YES, that’s PM, not AM, to get my second work out in. There were days where I tried to only eat a small bowl of iceberg lettuce with dressing in the morning and nothing else throughout the day so I could stay thin. There were days when I had a 2.5 hour workout of just cardio so I could burn off everything that I ate earlier. There were weeks when I would weigh myself 5 times a day because I wanted to see if what I was doing was working. There were days when I was kneeled down trying to throw up in the bathroom but then ended up in tears because I knew this wasn’t the way to lose weight.

I cringe when I think back to how insecure I was when I was 18-19 years old.

Black Coachella dress from H&M // inspirationindulgence.com

I want to say something. SCREW the media. Screw those unrealistic, thin looking models telling us to be someone other than ourselves. Screw those big time advertisers who think it’s okay to post anorexic, malnourished looking women in their ads (cough cough Gucci.) Without even realizing, it, we internalize all of these issues and tell ourselves that we need to be like these models, actresses and movie stars. And it is totally NOT OKAY.

Well guess what. Models are NOT REAL. Looking pretty is THEIR JOB. Literally, their job is to wake up, work out with their trainer, look pretty for photo shoots, eat meals that are specifically designed by their dietician, and then workout again. Their life REVOLVES around how they look. Guys, you wouldn’t want to be a model. It would be exhausting.

I actually found a Ted Talk the other day that really touched me. Entitled, “Looks Aren’t Everything- Believe Me, I’m a Model,” former model Cameron Russell speaks about what it’s like for her to be constantly insecure even though she’s the typical “American Dream.” She’s tall, gorgeous, has been a model since she was 15- yet, still never feels like she’s good enough or pretty enough.  I’d highly encourage you all to watch it. It’s great food for thought.

Black Coachella dress from H&M // inspirationindulgence.com

I will always have body issues and days where I feel less confident than others, but I’m proud to say that I’m much more confident than I used to be. I ended up losing that freshmen 15 the healthy way. When I go out to eat with my fiancé, I try not to feel guilty. I am a firm believer that self-indulging is HEALTHY, even for those who are looking to lose weight because they need to. There are days when I wake up, weigh myself, and go for a run because I don’t like what the scale says. But it’s all in moderation. There are good days and bad days, which is normal.

I’ll always be honest with you guys. When I was taking these photos with my sister, I felt so beautiful and sexy. The next day when I was looking through the photos on my camera, I thought, “Oh God, I can’t post these. This dress is too skin tight. My arms look big and manly. My calves look huge.”

Um, if I didn’t post these photos even though I was somewhat insecure about them, I’d be a hypocrite. The truth is that my arms are one of the strongest parts of my body, and I’ve worked really hard in the gym to sculpt them. My body is healthy and strong and does a lot for me. The truth is that I had so much fun with my sister taking these photos, and I know that my sister will always love me regarding what body type I have. In addition, I know that my fiancé would rather be with a girl who eats and someone who isn’t obsessed with her body image than a girl who constantly nit-picks everything about the way she looks, weighs, and eats.  And I love my legs, even if sometimes I feel like I have big calves or big thighs.

I’m a real girl, and I’m proud to be one. 

Black Coachella dress from H&M // inspirationindulgence.com

Black Dress // H&M 
Fedora // Charlotte Russe
Sunglasses // American Eagle

Photos by @ChloeHetzel

Xoxo,

  • Ivanna

    Great post such an important topic. The media feeds us and our children so many unrealistic bodies. As we get older I think we get more comfortable as we get older as well.

    • Thanks so much for reading and commenting. It’s so sad and is something that I am really passionate about advocating for.

  • Lindsay Katherine

    Beautiful post, Chelsea, and beautiful girl, inside and out. I know you’ll give perspective to girls and women who struggle with negative body image. It does make me sad to think I had serious body image problems most of my life, but starting in high school. I teach high schoolers, and I see how young they are – they are like babies!!!! They, and everyone, should just focus on being healthy and happy.

    • Thank you, Lindsay. During high school, you feel like you are so old and know everything, but I feel like in a way, we were all just babies!! I’m sure you have shared so much wisdom with your students. Proud of you and love your heart!! XO

  • Zana Djakovic

    I’m so happy that you shared your story. This is very brave dear! :) So inspirational.
    Big hug, love.
    xo

  • Love this. You’re beautiful inside & out Chels. I can sort of relate. I always had body issues whether I was told “you’re too skinny” or “you need to stop eating the way you do because you’ll get fat”. Even now after having my boys I still have self esteem issues. I’m the hardest critic to myself.

    • Thanks for sharing that with me, Jasmine. I really do believe we are all each other’s worst critic. <3 I think you're beautiful inside and outside as well. Hugs!

  • Allie

    Beautiful! Both you and your message! I think many women can relate to struggling with body image issues. Even as a grown woman I still remember the struggles that started when I was just a kid! It’s crazy the pressure we put on ourselves. Thank you so much for sharing your vulnerability with us! Keep up the awesome work!!

    • Sad you can relate but love that we are all addressing these issues <3

  • Janella Panchamsingh

    this was an amazing post that I have to share with both of my girls! thanks for sharing the raw thruth!

    • Aw thank you so much for sharing. #FtheMedia

  • Karin Rambo

    What a great message! I wrote a post about this recently too… I think it’s even harder being a blogger because it seems like all the big bloggers (chiara, Jules, etc.) are so teensy! But you know what? I get e-mails all the time from people saying that they appreciate that I’m “normal”… it gives them confidence. Those e-mails alone have given ME the confidence to rock what I am and not worry about anything else!

    http://www.truncationblog.com

    • EXACTLY!!!!!! Oh my gosh I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had to put my phone down because I was looking at Aimee and Chiara and feeling so crappy about myself. LOVE that people have emailed you that! Keep doing you. You rock, girlfriend!! XO

  • Rebecca Sapough

    Great post! Those statistics are scary – thank you for sharing your heart!

    Rebecca || http://www.simplysapough.com/

    • Thanks for stopping by! XO

  • This is beautiful, Chels. I’m so glad you’re brave enough to talk about the hard issues on your blog, because you have such a powerful voice and I know posts like these really touch other women, including me for sure!

    • Thanks for that, Erin! That’s what I’m hoping <3

  • This is a wonderful post, and one that I think most women can related to. Everybody has insecurities, and it’s amazing how those things can push us to treat our bodies poorly. Sorta unrelated, but I also love your outfit in the pictures.

    • Aw thank you, Rachelle!! Hopefully it helps others!

  • Kymberly Ludwig

    HELL YES!! thank you Chels for having the courage to speak about this!! It baffles me reading those statistics. Such a good read today on the blog.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, love <3

  • Jessica Bradshaw

    Yes! I agree 100% YOU are gorgeous! Every time I read those statistics it makes me so sad. I am an elementary school counselor and I have 10-12 year olds with eating disorders and even younger with poor body image.

    • You’re a school counselor, Jessica? How awesome! I’ll be a licensed school counselor as soon as I’m finished with my Master’s program!

      • Jessica Bradshaw

        I am. :) Congratulations! It is very rewarding work, for sure. You will be great!

  • Greta Hollar

    Thank you so much for being open and real! I struggled with an eating disorder all through college so I understand the pressure of looking a certain way. I think you’re beautiful inside and out!

    Greta | http://www.gretahollar.com

    • So sad but happy that you can relate to the message we are sending and use your voice! Thank you, love. I feel the same way about you! XO

  • Thank you so much for sharing so honestly and vulnerably. I think every woman out there can relate, whether she admits it or not. I too have struggled with my body image and insecurities and I’m proud to say that although I still have some things to work on, at this point, I’m really comfortable in my own skin. You look fabulous, by the way!

    LiveLifeWell,
    Allison

    • Aw thanks Allison! I think you’re fabulous as well! I agree; I feel like at some point, all women have struggled with these insecurities.

  • I absolutely LOVE that you shared this post. I felt pretty comfortable about my weight throughout middle school and high school, my main problem was my height– since I was so short people used to always think I was way younger than I was (I mean, that still happens, but it bothers me less because I don’t have cruel children pestering me haha). But then I got to college and I went to a university that is literally ranked one of the “hottest” universities in the country. And by hottest, I mean women. Everyone worked out ALL the time and I played some sports, but, honestly, there’s literally nothing I hate more than going to the gym, and I remember one day I felt so crap about all my roommates who worked out all the time that I went and worked out way too hard and threw up and almost passed out. Not good. I feel a lot better about my weight now, but still some days I feel like I should weigh less than I do, even though I’m perfectly healthy, if not pretty under the national average for my height. Anyway, this is a long-winded comment, but I just wanted to say I totally know where you’re coming from and it can be ROUGH, but you look beautiful and sexy and amazing, and I think it’s really admirable that you shared this because you are certainly not alone. xxx

    • Oh my gosh, Hannah! You’re going to make me cry! Thank you so much for sharing your story with me! I find it amazing and sad how many women have been through similar issues. Funny, my school was also ranked as one of the “hottest” schools in the country because we were such a “Fit” school. The pressure was definitely on. I think you’re beautiful yourself; don’t ever let anyone dull your sparkle. <3

  • Love this! I’ve absolutely shared the same struggles you have, and it’s a very real struggle that many girls go through. We live in a society where image and “skinny” and “pretty” is always shoved in our faces, that we never think we are good enough. But we are! You’re gorgeous and don’t ever think otherwise :)

    • Aw thank you love! I loved your blog post today, BTW! Skinny is “beautiful” in today’s society, which I am hoping will change because it wasn’t always this way! 60 years ago Marilyn Monroe was considered the beauty icon of the century and she was not stick-skeleton skinny!

  • Chelsea, you Gorgeous :)
    I advise you to be careful walking on railroad tracks, remember how Anna Karenina did not work well :)

  • Allison Gallagher

    Awesome post. You’re gorgeous! Everyone has body image issues no matter what they say….stay strong girl!

    http://www.girlnextscore.com

  • Dana Brillante-Peller

    I love this! I think it is so sad how young girls (actually any age girl for that matter) think they are too fat, etc.

    • Right! It should be the last thing on their minds.

  • Those stats are so hard to read. I am so glad you are bringing awareness about being confident in who you are! It’s a topic that is so important, but not talked about enough.

    • I know, sadly. :( Love that you support this cause and advocate with me!

  • Your stats stuck out. Yes I was there in the younger years of my life. Now that I turned 50 I am truly comfortable with who I am. I don’t judge the mirror as much as I used to. My weight has not changed and I am not going to force it. I am healthy, happy and loving life. Thank you for sharing and letting other know they too can be happy in their own skin. Great topic for a lot of women to hear.

    • So glad to hear that you are 100% comfortable with yourself, and I’m sure I will be better at that age as well. I’m so glad to hear you are healthy, happy and loving life! Thanks for stopping by! XO

  • Neely

    This is so great. I catch myself saying things I wish were different all the time instead of loving myself

  • OnceUponADollhouse

    Strong is sexy. Regardless of what you think or what society thinks you look damn good! Keep rocking it.

  • When you shared your story about being called thunder thighs it took me right back to 7th grade when someone told me that I had a double-chin. To this day, my chin is one of my biggest insecurities.

    This is such an important topic to write about. Thank you for sharing!

    • Aw! Screw that person! Kids can be so mean. Thank you for reading and for sharing that with me.

  • Amen! This is so very true and those statistics are very depressing. I want to teach my daughter to be okay with herself and the body god has given her. I know I will never be 100% satisfied with my own body but I came to at least accept all it’s imperfections. Thank you so much for this post!

    • I know. I want to teach my daughter about the media and that it will try to trick you, but you just have to limit yourself at times and be strong!

  • What an awesome post! I feel like so many people can relate because everyone goes through these types of feelings at some point or another but we’re all beautiful :)

    xoxo, Jenny

    • Thanks for following long, Jenny! So happy you enjoyed it :)

  • If only as women it would be appropriate to say to a friend “My shoulders are my favorite part of my body.” Instead, women are more likely to talk about being overweight etc. It is so important that we keep discussing the subject.

    • Right! It’s such a sad, messed- up concept.

  • Monika

    What an amazing post on a problem that is so very real! The pressure on looking “perfect” has never been this strong on women especially and it’s heart breaking to see so many young girls battling body issues. Thank you for sharing your story and I know it is not easy. You are gorgeous in every sense of the word :)

    Monika | http://www.palateforstyle.com

    • Aw thank you so much, Monika! I appreciate your kind words and support!

  • It’s crazy, the pressure media puts on women to look “just right.” I wish more brands would advertise women of all sizes. I think the female body is beautiful and diverse, and it breaks my heart when I hear women, especially young girls, complain about their bodies.

    • I know. I believe it’s getting better with doing more “plus size advertising” for girls sizes 8+ but THAT’S THE THING. Size 8 shouldn’t be a plus size….

  • Kelsie Kleinmeyer

    Real girls are the prettiest! Thanks for sharing so personally. This is a huge struggle for many, many girls, myself included!

    • Thanks for reading, love <3

  • SO proud of you for posting this personal blog post! It can be so hard to actually vocalize any of this, but truth it, by sharing your story you help so many other girls and women out there! I really wish the media didn’t have such a huge effect on us! I am so glad you are learning to overcome your insecurities girly! I wish it was a destination, but I know all too well that being comfortable in our own skin is a journey and something that takes a lifetime to figure out!

    • It really is about the journey, and not the destination!! Great quote. It will be a lifelong learning process but I’m happy with my body :)

  • This is such an amazing post! I absolutely hate how the media portrays perfection and unfortunately so many of us fall for it and try our best to “fit in”. I myself struggled with this for a long time until I finally decided to accept myself and love every inch of my body! Thanks for sharing this! Many people need to read this to remember how beautiful they already are because comparison is a horrible horrible trap!
    xoxox
    May from http://www.mayliving.com

    • Good for you, May! What an inspiring story. Yes, comparison is ultimately the thief of joy!

  • This is so important, and I really relate (as I’m sure too many of your readers do). I STILL remember hurtful comments from middle school, and I’m in my early 20’s now. That stuff stays forever, but posts like yours help remind all of us that we’re all lovely and great and strong. Thank you for sharing!

    – Hannah, http://www.thecatsandcoffee.com

    • Ugh middle school is such a hard time. I’m so glad those dreadful years are over. Thanks for reading!

  • Props, beautiful girl. Props for having the courage to write this.

    You are not Thunder Thighs – you are a strong, beautiful-inside-and-out woman with a heart of gold, a *gorgeous* bod, total intellect, amazingly gorgeous hair, the most killer outfit, and legs that get you to AMAZING PLACES.

    I’m with ya…screw the media. We’re all beautiful.

    Coming Up Roses

    • Aw omg! I seriously have a girl crush on you, Erica <3 Love ya chick!

  • Good for you for opening up and being vulnerable. It takes a lot of courage to be real. You are beautiful.

    • Thank you. So are you!! XO

  • Carly Ferguson

    Great post, Chelsea! I think we can all relate to your struggles and insecurities in some way. It’s crazy that even the prettiest, in shape girl has insecurities – we all have them! And I totally agree. The media does not help one bit. And don’t even get me started on some instagram profiles. You are so brave and courageous for sharing your story – you should be proud!

    • I know. Instagram can be dangerous- we have to remember that we are seeing only the very best of people. It’s not real. Thanks for reading. XO

  • Oh beautiful, first off I love this post and the fact that you have the courage to write about it! It is really sad that so many young girls are influenced by the wrong things around us, media is definitely a culprit. I am guilty of being one among the 90% who wanted to change at least one thing about my physical appearance when I was in high school but thank god I overcame that insecurity as I understood the big picture and ‘grew up’. And you are so right, being fit is not the problem but wanting to lose weight by starving and taking to unhealthy dieting is. You are gorgeous and you have no reason to feel insecure about anything!
    xx, Kusum | http://www.sveeteskapes.com

    • Thanks for your sweet comment, love! Appreciate you showing interest in this difficult topic. I’m happy that you have confidence and that you realized how dangerous the media can be. You are beautiful as well <3

  • Heather Gee Davis

    Great post! My 15 year old daughter is always on the scale obsessing and she is BEAUTIFUL!

    • Aw so sad! Keep encouraging her and telling her that, which I’m sure you do! xo

  • Jena Vanderlogt

    I read all of your blog posts but this one really hit me, and I just wanted to give you a little shout out here. You’ve used your platform to draw attention to something that touches nearly every woman, and shown that we’re not alone. I’m so proud to know you and be on this crazy grad school journey together. Stay amazing, dear!

    • Aw JENA! Thank you so much. This comment just made my whole day! I am so happy that you are proud of me and I can’t thank you enough for your support with my blog. Your comment encourages me to keep opening up and writing more posts like this. And I will. <3