On New Year’s Day I posted a very raw and vulnerable picture of myself in just a tank top and underwear on my professional Facebook page with a message that is very close to my heart.
I felt compelled to post this photo because as women, starting at a very early age we are taught that our bodies are riddled with flaws and that we must be beautiful before we can be anything else. Feeling ashamed of their bodies keeps young girls and women from going out for sports, participating in class, speaking up with their ideas at work, and applying for schools and jobs that they really want.
Our preoccupation with what is “wrong” with our bodies silences our voices and prevents us from being fully engaged in the world and our own lives.
As my photo spread around the internet, it garnered all kinds of reactions ranging from extremely positive to extremely negative, including of course, the ever-classic discounting of a woman’s experience we are all-too-familiar with:
“She couldn’t possibly feel this way/have experienced this because [insert their personal opinion about my body here].”
Yet, in the very same thread of comments, I had people telling me that I couldn’t possibly have ever been ashamed of my body because it’s too perfect, and one guy offered me diet advice to get rid of my “bumps and lumpy bits,” while a woman made rude comments about the texture of my skin.
And therein lies the crux of the issue.
When you let other people define your standards and ideals for you, you hand your power over to them. You are riding high when they tell you that you’re beautiful and you’ve “made the cut” and you come crashing down the moment they tell you that you’re fat.
As Girls Gone Strong advisory board member Erin Brown says “The trouble isn’t in valuing beauty, but in defining it so narrowly that we cannot possibly achieve it. We value women in parts and pieces, striving for this celebrity’s glutes or that celebrity’s lips. It’s impossible and exhausting, and every time we achieve a level of beauty we believe we will be happy with, we are presented with a new set of rules and standards to try to live up to. The solution isn’t ‘not valuing beauty’ but rather, expanding its definition to include us.”
So many of you have joined us in revolutionizing your resolutions, and we know you understand how important this conversation is—now we ask you to help us spread the #GGSFlawless message.
The women below have shared a photo of themselves telling their stories and letting the world know why they will no longer let others tell them that their bodies are wrong, and why they are “flawless.”
To be clear, #GGSFlawless
…is not about thinking you’re “perfect.”
…is not about “settling.”
…is not about believing you have no room for growth or change.
It’s about no longer subscribing to other people’s ideals and standards for your body.
I refuse to accept the term “embracing my flaws” when it comes to my body.
When I look in the mirror, I see a powerful, helpful, emotional, adventurous, deeply passionate, hard-loving, creatively-gifted woman. I see a woman that knows her worth is rooted so much more deeply than to a number on the scale, or to a certain dress size.
The only reason that certain things on one’s body would be viewed as “flaws” are because that person chooses to accept that descriptor from the media or other people. I actively choose not to accept that, or participate in that kind of language.
The media and other people don’t get the right to dictate what our bodies are supposed to look like, and they also don't have the right to determine what is considered a "flaw".
What some choose to deem as a “flaw” is their problem; not mine, and certainly not yours. I refuse to feel any sort of obligation to meet other people’s expectations about something as personal and precious as my body.
No, I do not need the quick-fix detox, diet pills, or tightening creams that are constantly pushed upon women, thank you very little. Those things won't help me a bit when it comes to the most important things, such as living a bigger, bolder, or more fulfilling and loving life.
My opinion is the only one that matters, and my body is flawless because I say it is.
Learn more about Jen: Facebook - Instagram
My body is flawless because it allows me to move, be agile, live life to the fullest and grow a living being. My body changes and with each change it is still flawless. I can be lean, round, bloated, pregnant, older and still beautiful. I am flawless and that doesn't mean there are aspects that can't change, get stronger or more flexible. Being flawless means loving myself and what my body allows me to do in this moment. When I love myself I treat my body with respect and nourish it with healthy foods, water, clean air, exercise, endurance and positive thoughts. My body is unique. My body is beautiful. My body allows me to live an adventurous life. My body allows me to bring life into this world. When you honor your body, nobody can take that away from you. Live your life, live your body. And be flawless in it.
Learn more about Alison: Website - Facebook - Instagram - Twitter
I don’t subscribe to the idea that my flaws are beautiful, because I don’t agree that any part of my body is flawed. It has been abused, shamed, and tormented for being “flawed” for too many years, I refuse to mistreat it any longer.
Self-acceptance in the face of cultural norms that constantly tell us we don’t measure up is the ultimate act of rebellion, but it’s also the ultimate act of compassion.
You deserve that compassion. More than anyone else in your life, you deserve compassion. But it has to start with you. You must change your mind.
Your body is glorious exactly as it is today, no matter its size, proximity of your limbs to each other, or texture of your skin. Your body is a badass impressive mighty machine that carries you through your life. Your body deserves a bit of worship. And if you could agree that it is a pretty incredible tool, you could change the way you feel about it without putting a caveat of “when it looks different” onto it.
The other way? The one where you pick apart your “flaws” in the hopes that it will eventually lead to your happiness? It will always be there. It will be there tomorrow, next week, next month. You can always go back. But standing on the other side you may choose to stay right where you are. Loving what you’ve got and taking care of it the way you deserve to be taken care of. Flawless, as always.
Learn more about Amber: Facebook - Instagram - Twitter
I am often told, “Amna, fix your teeth, you’re a public figure now.”
I love my teeth. I love the space that is in between. In fact, it makes cleaning them a lot easier and a lot smoother. They’re 100 percent healthy. Why should I fix what’s already great? I will not alter my teeth - as long as they’re well and healthy - to make someone else comfortable. They’re me.
Once at university, some nine years ago, a professor saw me and my smile and he said, “People with gaps in their teeth are successful. Remember that.”
Look at me now… my teeth prominently featured on Girls Gone Strong!
Learn more about Amna: Website - Instagram - Twitter
I’m 5’11” and weigh 185 pounds—and my body is flawless.
I grew up bigger than everyone else standing at 5’8” in the third grade (yes, you read that right). I spent years of my life trying to be smaller, and the more I shrunk, the smaller I thought I needed to be. Until I finally said enough is enough… eff that.
I’m perfect the way I am. I’m not here to spend my life focusing on being a smaller version of myself.
Society constantly barrages women with messages of what our bodies are “supposed” to look like and attempts to convince us that we are inadequate if we don’t meet those standards of beauty. They want us to believe that we need to “fix” ourselves.
But I don’t need “fixing.”
I can take up as much space as I want to, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I’m not the leanest woman you’ll meet. I don’t have six-pack abs. I have cellulite. I have stretch marks. I have a muscular back and shoulders. I have very large legs. But you know what? These babies can deadlift and squat hundreds of pounds, and they are strong AF. And even if they couldn’t, they would still be perfect.
My self-worth is not derived from my body fat percentage and neither is yours.
I’m strong. I’m healthy. I’m happy. I’m unapologetically me. Most importantly, I’m flawless.
Learn more about Chrissy: Website - Facebook - Instagram - Twitter
Oh my goodness. Look at her... yep. My name is Concita, and I have a big bottom—and for as long as I can remember, I believed that it should be covered, camouflaged, and kept out of sight. But, I have rejected that narrative.
The size of my backside (or lack thereof) does not determine my worth. I am frankly not interested in five steps to a smaller bottom. As long as I can run fast, jump high, and rock my favorite jeans, my bottom is alright with me.
Bring on the red yoga pants because it doesn't need to hide. My bottom is my business and quite frankly, I think it's flawless.
Learn more about Concita: Website - Facebook - Instagram - Twitter
Once, when I was 15 years old, as I was walking into a grocery store with my best friend and her grandpa, my friend's grandpa looked at me and said, "Why is it that you're wearing pants on a such a hot day?" "Because I don't like my legs," I replied. "Well, you better start because they're the only ones you've got." And man, was he right.
You don’t have to look very far to see American beauty standards splashed in our faces.
Television. Internet. Magazines in grocery store checkout lines. Billboards. Malls. Even the sides of buses are plastered with 3 foot posters of women lounging around in the their underwear longingly looking at a bottle of perfume as if it were her lover (because I do this all the time, right?).
What we see in media and what we’re internalizing as the real standard of beauty isn’t real at all. It’s fake. It’s a fantasy. It’s a profit-driven industry exploiting women’s (and men’s) insecurities. Millions of women will chase these unrealistic ideals for the rest of their lives, and until we recognize these messages as toxic and harmful and reject them… we lose. I choose not to lose any more of my self esteem or time chasing after ways to get rid of my stretch marks, cellulite and soft belly that housed my son. Because these aren't flaws. They're a part of my story. And I choose to love the story that is my body. All of it.
Learn more about Jill: Website - Facebook - Instagram - Twitter
Since I was a young girl I began receiving hurtful comments about my skin. Until recent years it’s been something I’ve felt shame about. I’m prone to moles and freckles and my back is covered in them. In my teen years I suffered from embarrassing acne and as I age my acne scars become more prominent on my cheeks.
When I was little I was often teased about a few moles on my face. I remember trying to think of ways to cut them off when I was in upper elementary school. I would sit in my mirror with scissors wanting to ‘make the ugly go away.’ I had them removed in high school, but that didn’t make the shame go away.
Up until recent years I would still edit out the moles on my back and abdomen when I sent photos to my trainers. Now I embrace them, realizing they are what make me uniquely me. My body is a whole, not a make up of individual parts. I spent years feeling so embarrassed about my skin that I neglected to love all of me. And all of me deserves to feel love.
Last summer while at a rugby match with my son and drunken older man behind me commented that I had an entire universe on my back. He was just being obnoxious, but that was actually a pretty cool thing to think about. The universe always has my back. How amazing is that?
Learn more about Kellie: Website - Instagram
For the majority of my fitness career I have felt “less-than” or not good enough to be a great Personal Trainer. How could I be when I have always carried a roll-y, soft tummy and stretch marks on my hips? No matter how lean I got, even when I competed, I always had a soft, fat belly. The stretch marks have a mind of their own. I was in a constant state of comparison to the Oxygen cover girls and forever focused on these "flaws."
Surprisingly, in 2014 I was awarded the title of Australian Personal Trainer of The Year. I was awarded on my talent, not my body. As a result I woke up. I was also pissed off. For years I had let someone else's definition of a "perfect body" convince me that I was not good enough.
Yes I bought into the notion but it was the norm. Everyone around me, my peers, my mentors, my clients were all on the same agenda. It saddens me that I contributed to it.
Today the woman in these photos is starkly different. Finally, at nearly 40 years of age, I am in love with my body - the muscles, curves, bumps, everything. I refuse to allow anyone tell me what is beautiful or not. I am not defined by my body, and my body cannot be defined. It is not flawed. It never has been, it has always been perfect in many ways.
The truth is this — no one has the right to pass any sort of body judgment or agenda on anyone's body. Period.
Learn more about Nardia: Facebook - Instagram - Twitter
Now we want to hear from you! Remember! All you have to do is share a picture of yourself on social media letting the world know that your body is your business and that you will no longer let other people’s definition of “flaws” define you — and be sure to use the hashtag #GGSFlawless!
If these sound familiar to you, you are not alone.
Based on our years of experience working with and talking to women — and going through our own body image struggles — we designed this free course to help you start improving your body image immediately and give you the tools you need to finally feel good in your own skin.
Bust through negative beliefs, change your mindset, and start feeling awesome in your own skin with this information-packed 5-day course.
This free course includes videos, downloadable tools & resources, and podcast version so you can learn on the go.