It Figures is Yahoo Life's body image series, delving into the journeys of influential and inspiring figures as they explore what body confidence, body neutrality and self-love mean to them.
Celebrities and their bodies have been idealized by the media thanks to magazines, billboards, TV screens and runways that use their images to perpetuate a beauty standard consisting of a specific body shape, size and type. As It Figures sets out to challenge and examine those rigid standards, I've been surprised to see that some of the most candid conversations about body image have been with the very people held up as ideals. It turns out that even celebrities praised as the most beautiful feel they can’t live up to the expectations set for us all.
I’ve had the opportunity to ask people like Emily Ratajkowski and Mia Khalifa to share the unfiltered truths about their bodies, how they’ve profited from them and how that’s impacted their ideas of self-worth. Former NASCAR driver Danica Patrick opened up about how her body has served her in her sport, while singer Meghan Trainor got real about her postpartum body and admitted thinking early on that her figure would be the reason she wouldn’t make it as a pop star. While each conversation has been very different, there are common themes throughout, proving that body image presents universal pressures, insecurities and struggles from which not even our idols are immune. Read on for some of the most significant statements.
"When I was a teenager I had pictures of models on my wall and they were all very thin. There [were] no other examples of fuller-figured women. What I would have said to myself is 'Don't go on that diet.' Because that's really what set me up for years and years of some bad behaviors. The goal is to have peace and happiness throughout."
"I quite frankly hated the way that I looked. I hated almost everything about myself and to have that exploited was really damaging to my self-worth and my self-image. [Now], some days I don't look in the mirror and I completely rid myself of that importance because for so long my reflection was really my main purpose."
"It was like I was looking in a magic mirror, you know, those ones that distort the image? Except it was my mind-changing what I saw. My thoughts instantly went to the imperfections. The blemishes. The flaws. At least five times a day, I would wrap my hands around my thighs, making sure they hadn’t grown beyond what I could reach. I knew each little calorie that was in every bite of food I took. I talked about food all of the time."
"I used to hate who I was. I hated my body, and therefore I hated myself as an individual. I now am content with the way that I look, I think I'm coming to terms with the fact that my body is my body and that's what makes me unique. So I'm on that path to that self-love right now and I just feel that the more I speak about it, the more people that I have these conversations with, my eyes are open to more and more ways to better manage my own body dysmorphia."
"Being objectified and sexualizing yourself and letting others sexualize you won't bring you power, and it won't bring you joy. I didn't want to just be a body, I never had."
"I see other feminists and they're just like, 'Well, if she's so body positive then why is she getting lipo?' I think being a body-positive person is letting people do what they want with their bodies. You can’t have a standard for someone else's body, you need to mind your business."
"Really just embodying femininity makes me feel sexy, to just remember the essence of femininity and what a woman’s capable of and our bodies and how beautiful and shapely they are. I always knew that my body was for more than just looks, like it had a functional purpose."
"After the C-section I was like, I'm lost. I feel like I lost my power. I can't look at myself right now. I'm struggling more than ever. And I need my husband and people who love me to remind me that I'm awesome because I don't feel awesome. My therapist was like, 'You need to stand in the mirror naked for five minutes a day and stare at your body,' which is the hardest thing I've ever had to do. By the third day, though, I started to like what I see and start believing it. You start really looking at yourself and being like, it's crazy that I could make a human being, like I made eyelashes."
"I love my imperfections. I feel like I’ve done the body modifications that I’ve wanted for a long time and thought hard on. I'm happy. I like the way I'm aging, I like the way I’m growing, I like the way I'm fluctuating."
"When you're young, you wake up and you take your beautiful smooth skin for granted and your perky high boobs, and whatever comes with it. And sometimes you might be a little plump or you might have acne, I mean, like, you know, things that are not socially considered beautiful, but then there's the hope that it'll go away, right? That it'll get fixed. By my age it's like, I mean, you can still fix things, but do you want to? Will my dimpled fat thighs actually prevent me from having a good life? No. I know that. So I don't really have to focus on that as being like a problem."
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.
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