A Real Body in an Instagram World

A real body in an Instagram world. Learning to appreciate and love your body, flaws and all.

Editor's note: This article first appeared in Issue 13 of Holl & Lane Magazine. 

Words by Sarah Byrne // Images by Jacky Andrews

Let's get real. Let's have an honest, raw conversation about social media, body image, and what it can do to a pretty stable, normal self-esteemed adult. I should probably introduce myself before we get so intimate. 

Hello, I'm Sarah, a mama and yoga teacher, and I have a belly. I have thighs under a bit of upper arm jiggle. No, I am not pregnant. I have a 5-year-old daughter. Old enough to be back to my pre-pregnancy washboard abs right?! Back? Where were they in the first place? I never had them to begin with - well, not the kind that showed on the outside anyway.

I grew up just as the internet was taking off. Remember the AOL dial tone? We didn't have Facebook or Snapchat or Instagram. I didn't even have my own mobile phone until I was 18 years old and at university. I never had the pressure to fit in or to fit into those low cut tops and and bend their bodies into ridiculous, contortionist poses (because we are talking about yoga after all). It is my job as a mama and a yoga teacher to not only empower my daughter but to empower anyone who walks through my studio door, to live their life the way THEY want to. Not how some square photo on Instagram tells them to. To not think negatively because they aren't built like a Victoria's Secret model, but to be proud of how they ARE built and made. They are beautiful just the way they are because they are real, raw, and honest.

So, how the hell do you do that?

Here are my top three ways to conquer the Instagram perfection while not fitting that ideal:

1) You start by being real and honest with yourself. 

If your body bothers you, move it. Get real with yourself and make those changes that you can make and that will help. Don't get stuck in a perpetual cycle of negativity. Get up and move. Be confident in your body to do what it needs to do to keep you going.

2) Seek out others who are real and jive with YOUR truth. 

Seek out your tribe - a friend/teacher/partner and trust their honesty and authenticity. Talk to them, open up. Breathe into it and let go. Those experiences in life are more important than the 'perfect' photo of the 'perfect' pose.

3) Realize that FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is real.

And that perfect Instagram photo? Yeah, it took about 17 takes and Photoshop to create. If you like the photo, chances are the people closest to you will, too. Post it, don't worry about what other people think or say. Get outside, LIVE your life. Don't get stuck in a cycle of 'scrolling' to have fun. GO, have fun. And if you happen to strike a yoga pose, snap it and post it! That is what people want to see - real life. 

These are just some of the ways that I, a mama and a yoga teacher, get out of my OWN head and deal with the 'stigma' of having a belly, thighs, a BODY. Personally, the fact that I am real is what draws most of my students to me, I am what they perceive as normal and they like that. That perception should be universal, in whatever form we are interacting.