Growing up, I was regularly asked how tall I was. Without hesitation, I responded by saying I was 5’10”. Here’s a little secret: I’m actually 5’11”.
For some bizarre reason, the difference of one inch provided me with momentary confidence. I tried to convince the world, and myself, that I was something different, while the truth was literally in plain sight.
Last summer, for the first time, I gathered the courage to share my insecurity, and within moments, I was in tears. Never before had I said this out loud, and truthfully, I think I was admitting my insecurity to myself for the first time. As scary as this was, I was filled with relief. A weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I felt free.
Since this day, I have had countless conversations regarding my struggle with my body image. I am in awe of the relief I’ve experienced from vocalizing my fears and being honest with myself. Simply, confiding in others who have experienced similar feelings feels good.
My struggles led me, along with my twin sister, Keisha, to build a social media movement, Live Life Unfiltered. This movement aims to remind women that behind every perfect photo on Instagram, is still a regular girl with insecurities and bad days. Despite the happiness we portray in the photos that we post, these are just snapshots of our lives. Our photos neglect to reveal the lows we experience and allow us to hide parts of ourselves that perhaps we want to ignore.
Within this movement, we have created an Instagram account, @livelife_unfiltered, where we post photos of women daily that are unfiltered and unposed. These photos are paired with captions that reflect the girl’s feelings towards social media, mental health, and body image.
Through Live Life Unfiltered, I’ve had personal conversations with hundreds of young women about body image and the pressures from social media. Now, I share my insecurities without hesitation, hoping my story will help other women. Despite the differences in our lives, history, and being strangers, we are able to relate through similar feelings and experiences.
It’s easy to be fooled into believing that the women we see on Instagram live perfect lives. No one feels happy, beautiful, or confident all the time, regardless of what social media may depict.
Vocalizing our insecurities doesn’t necessarily change them. I’m not suddenly 5’8”. However, it can change their intensity. My insecurities no longer consume my thoughts, in fact, I can proudly say that I bought my first pair of heels and I love wearing them.
So what does this mean? Simply, there is freedom in finding the courage to voice our fears. Living life unfiltered begins with addressing our perception of ourselves and being completely vulnerable with who we are. To be real with the world, we must first be wholly honest with who we are. Then maybe, the power of self-awareness extends beyond how we see ourselves to how we perceive others. If we allow ourselves to see past the filtered, smiling, and confident photos on Instagram and remember that we all have hardships and lows, we may find greater peace in who we are. I know I have!