How I Refuse To Allow Being An Influencer To Affect My Body Image

There’s no question that social media can have a harmful effect on your body image

cindy diaz

Photo: Courtesy of Cindy Diaz

There’s no question that social media can have a harmful effect on your body image. Countless studies have focused on how social media affects young women in particular. The University of South Wales and Macquarie University surveyed 276 Australian and American women aged 18-25 and found that it only took 30 minutes of scrolling through fitness inspiration images on Instagram for them to start looking at their bodies in a more negative way. As a YouTube OG, I uploaded my first video in 2008, and Instagram addict, I have spent countless hours on social media which was more than enough to experience a roller coaster of emotions long before researchers took a look at its effects with a magnifying glass.

My YouTube channel focused on beauty, which means the camera needed to be up close and personal with my face. Trolls protected by the anonymity that the internet awarded to them had carte blanche to pick me apart. I remember one particular comment about the gaps in my bottom teeth. It was something that I never noticed until they pointed it out. Now I can’t unsee it, which is so irritating. Especially when I don’t have a few thousand dollars laying around to get them fixed and have to live with this “flaw.”

It is incredible how a camera can reveal things you have never noticed about yourself. There was a time when I wanted to dabble in lookbook videos where I would try on clothes and style outfits. I was a size 10 and recorded myself in a look that was perfect for work, but I felt like I looked so fat when I watched the footage that I didn’t want to post it. The experience discouraged me from trying again. I compared myself to other creators who were much skinnier, which crushed my spirit. Being surrounded by those same people at industry events made me feel even worse. I didn’t post fashion-related videos and I slowly withdrew from YouTube to focus on a different career. But the alternate path I took in life brought me the enlightenment I needed to not give a fuck.

I’m not alone in having wanted to change things about my body after becoming a YouTuber. Many successful influencers on the platform have been open about getting plastic surgery over the years. Dulce Candy is a prime example. She opened up to her subscribers about getting a nose job in 2013. Even plus-size influencers have gone under the knife. Getting rid of double chins through liposuction or a non-surgical option called Kybella is very popular among models, signaling that the fashion world is starting to accept curvier bodies, just not all of it.

Ironically, social media and a career as a beauty and fashion writer helped me rebuild my confidence. Looking at people from all different backgrounds and sizes fully loving who they were and looking stylish doing it helped me come out of my shell. The body positivity movement changed the game. This wave of confident women shattered the idea that I needed to conform to unrealistic standards of beauty. I picked up so many tips on how to dress my curvy body and started putting it into practice. Now I post clothing hauls and even try the pieces on camera despite gaining at least 40 pounds since I first attempted to do an OOTD on camera. I have even shot some dope pictures with photographers I know just for the heck of it.

Perspective has helped me get over a lot of my insecurities. Sure, there are a few things I would like to change. However, I don’t let it get in the way of living my life. I don’t look like a Victoria’s Secret model but I fully believe the popular mantra that has been going around Instagram this year: “The beach is going to take whatever body I give it.”

I have lonjas and thick thighs that save lives which are lined with dark brown stretch marks. Photoshopping my pictures is an option. Sometimes I do, but sometimes I don’t. I’m human with “imperfections” just like everyone else. Anyone who has a problem with that needs to take a long hard look at themselves. When you realize that the people criticizing you are more than likely just projecting their own insecurities, it changes everything. You just don’t care anymore and that is incredibly freeing.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to get my teeth done someday. And getting a little nip and tuck after I have kids is on the table. But I am proud of who I am today and fully intend on living life accordingly.

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