An Honest Chat About Battling Negative Body Image

I never like to start the week on a heavy note. However, I thought it was about time that I sat down to have an honest chat about battling negative body image.

An Honest Chat About Battling Negative Body Image
 
If you caught last week’s confessions or follow me on Instagram, then these recent personal difficulties shouldn’t come as a surprise. I’ve mentioned or alluded to body image issues on more than one occasion as of late. I’m struggling. Hard. Where did these feelings come from, or how did they start? That’s what everybody keeps asking me that I’ve shared this with, and they’re great questions. I just wish I had the answers! I literally feel like I woke up one morning and decided to not like the way that I look.

In the mirror, all I see is flaws and problems. My round face, chubby upper arms and thighs, curvier-than-ever hips. I get that other people don’t necessarily see what I see and that I more than likely have a distorted view of myself. That doesn’t make it any easier to ignore, though.

Here’s the thing. If you’ve known me for any length of time then it’s pretty easy to figure out that I’m a fairly confident person. I don’t mean that in an obnoxious, I’m-so-great sort of way. I’ve always just been comfortable in my own skin – with who I am inside and out and not caring what others think or say. So, imagine how I might feel with my confidence being shaken to my core for no apparent reason.

I don’t feel like myself at all. The way I berate my appearance while looking in the mirror. Convincing myself that nothing fits or looks right on my body. Not even making attempts to do my hair or makeup because I think that it won’t make a difference. I barely can accept a compliment from Ryan! If he tells me I’m beautiful, I can list 10 reasons why I think he’s lying. (He’s not, of course. If there’s one truth in life that I can hold onto it’s that Ryan will love me at my absolute best and worst). It’s all to the point where most days I just want to wear sweatpants and call it a day. That’s all that apparently fits and looks okay on me anyways, right? I always have taken pride in my appearance and how I present myself, but these days nothing is doing it for me. If I don’t feel like I look good then I’m sure as hell not going to try and pretend to look good to please someone else.

This is so not me. I even feel ridiculous typing out these thoughts.

So, where do I go from here? I’m taking it one day at a time, trying to figure out my triggers and what makes me feel better. So far, the gym/running is my ultimate stress reliever. Running proves to me that my body is stronger and more in-shape than I give it credit for. Slowly, I hope that will help me love my body again and ultimately, myself. The truth is that I would love nothing more than to get pregnant in the near future, but I never ever want my child to have these same feelings. So, I need to get my shit together so I can be a role model and positive influence of what it means to be okay with what you look like.

If you made it to the end of this post, thanks for sticking with me for an honest chat about battling negative body image. Personal feelings such as these are something I’m always hesitant to share, but I never want to act one way if I’m feeling the complete opposite. Plus, I think it’s important to stay real and transparent. I know that many of us deal with similar issues, especially in this social media-driven world. My hope is that by being open about my struggles, you, too know that you’re not alone and we can talk and help each other out.

photo from Kim Kedinger Photography
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  • Biana Perez

    Karly, I’m so sorry that you are having these feelings, but you recognize that they aren’t the truth and that in-and-of-it-self is a win! I’m thinking about you sweet friend and even though we are thousands of miles away, I’m here for you, beautiful!

    • Thank you so much, dear friend! Getting this off my chest definitely has helped so I’m starting to shift my perspective to a more positive one to help find what makes me feel good and better. I appreciate your support and thoughts! xx

  • Debra Stachelski

    It makes me sad that you feel this way, and I hope you can work through it. You’ve started with the most important step, and that is recognizing the problem. I hope you come to love the beautiful girl that the rest of us see.

    • Thanks, mom! I don’t want you to be sad – it’s nothing you did! I’m working through it, and I’m sure I’ll come out better and stronger at the other end.

  • I hope you’re able to figure out what’s causing your negative feelings! You are so gorgeous (seriously, can I have your hair?!) but I know no matter how much you hear it, it’s how you feel that matters. I struggle with these feelings occasionally too so I know how hard it can be but hope you feel better soon! <3, Pamela Sequins & Sea Breezes

    • I will say, you always make me feel better about my hair! Lol. 🙂 Thanks, girl. It’s definitely something that will take time to overcome, but I hope that focusing on the positive and finding things that make me feel good will help both now and in the long run.

  • Christina Sotherden

    I’ve felt like this so many times before and I love that you’re sharing out loud because you aren’t alone! I’m thinking about you and hope you figure out the source of these feelings soon – you are such a pretty lady inside and out!

    • It’s a relief that so many of you have said that I’m not alone with these feelings. That was my hope when I published this because it can be scary and somewhat isolating when you’re having this much anxiety. Thank you for your words, sweet girl!

  • Lacie

    I feel the same way sometimes. One thing I’ve found when I’m feeling down on myself is when I don’t feel fulfilled at work. Regardless of what you do, or don’t do, have you thought about sharing a skill you may not have considered? I know you’re an amazing dog mom – have you ever thought of offering that skill to your local shelter? Offering an hour to take a few dogs for a walk in the park, or play with them? You have so much to offer and sometimes that’s hard to see. Maybe a change of pace is in order for a new perspective.

    • You are right! I will say that some of this has been caused by other factors that were even moreso too personal to discuss, so I’m working through some of that as well. I have thought about picking up some volunteer hours, so I appreciate the suggestion!

  • Sending you all the *hugs* beautiful friend. The struggle is definitely real, especially for us girls who see society’s warped view of how we should look everywhere we turn. I love that you are trying to turn it around before having a baby, so that your child grows up looking up to a strong (and of course gorgeous) woman.

    Green Fashionista

    • Thank you, friend! I want to be the absolute best role model for my future child because it would kill me if he/her ever felt the way that I feel right now. I’m just trying to focus on the positive and get myself healthy and strong. 🙂

  • I think it’s safe to same that most (if not all) women feel this way at some point. The struggle is the comparison game! It is also amplified with being involved in the blogger/social media world as well. Just know that you are beautiful!!! I love all your outfit and make up posts!!

    • Ugh, the lovely comparison game. Why oh why did that ever have to become a thing?! As amazing as this community is, it definitely can be a bit competitive at times, but I hope we all realize that we are human and have feelings. Thanks for your sweet words!

  • I 100% know how you feel. I sometimes look at myself in the mirror and have the same thoughts as you about hating how huge my thunder thighs are, or how much I hate the pooch that I’ve developed. Chris tries to tell me how much he loves me and sometimes even gets mad at me when I’m being “too negative” on myself, but it sucks when you don’t feel happy with your body. I’m definitely not over it yet, but I think that making the small changes like going to the gym will definitely help. I’m still trying to focus on the being healthy and not necessarily on a pant size or a number on a scale, because that’s what should matter in the end!

    • Ryan is the exact same way with me. He legit gets mad at me if he hears or finds me berating myself in the mirror, and I hate that, but I wish I saw what he saw. I’m working on it, just like you! You’re right that being healthy is what matters instead of numbers and clothing sizes. I’m always here for you if you want to talk or need a boost of encouragement/confidence!

  • Sweet girl I want to be able to sit with you and have a glass of wine. I swear blogging is sometimes the most amazing thing rolled into the worst all at once. It’s impossible not to feel insecure by scrolling through an Instagram feed right? Just know that you are amazing and bring so much goodness into the world. To help quiet those insecurities keep doing what you are doing. Take the time to run, focus on yourself and soon you will get out of this funk and see yourself for the beauty that you truly are. xoxoxoxo

    • Oh, my friend! What would I do without your support? Thank you for these kind words and encouragement. I’m definitely working to focus on what makes me happiest and feel good about myself so I can get over whatever this thing is. And, yes to wine. 🙂

  • I’m sorry you are feeling this way. I do think Amanda is right below. Blogging and being constantly engaged in a social media culture can naturally make it hard. You ARE beautiful. Your body is strong and capable and amazing. I do think we all struggle and go through phases where we struggle more than others, so I do think it is natural. Sending you love!

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

    • Thanks, Amy! Yes, blogging and social media is such a blessing and fun thing, but it also can stir up these negative emotions. But you’re right – we are so strong as women, and I’m trying to learn to focus on that.

  • First off thanks for sharing your story with others- and know that many others out there can relate to this. I personally struggle with self-confidence and have all my life so I can completely understand how it can have such a negative impact on your daily life. But learning to refocus those negative thoughts in a positive way will truly help you move forward and realize both your inner and outer beauty. You are beautiful and I hope that you will be able to work through this!

    • Thank you, Cara! My main motivation to share these feelings was knowing that I wasn’t alone and that so many others suffer from similar issues. It can be scary and lonely, so it’s a good reminder that I/we aren’t the only ones. I’m definitely working to focus on the positive!

  • A

    This was such a brave post! It’s so hard, as a woman I feel like we are always hardest on ourselves. We focus on perceived flaws which are probably only in our heads and nobody else would even notice. I don’t see any of those things you mentioned when I read your blog – I see someone who beautiful on the outside but also kind, funny and a great writer – and I’ve never even met you in real life!

    • You are so right! Women are so hard on themselves (and each other!). It can get so competitive and negative, so I just need to focus on what makes me feel good. Your words are so appreciated – sincerely, it means so much. Thank you!

  • I wish I could give you a huge hug right now Karly! I’m pretty sure we’ve all felt this way at some point or another, so know that you’re not alone. I love that you’re focusing on what makes you feel the best– that’s so important! I try to remind myself that everyone is their own harshest critic, but thank you for being so brave and sharing your feeling with us. I think you’re beautiful and so kind, friend. xx

    • Awe, thanks Ashley! I definitely am trying to focus and find those things that make me happy and feel my best. Like you said, that’s so important to beat the negative feelings. We definitely are our own worst critics. Thank you, again for your sweet words!

  • katie arnold

    We are our own worst critics! I’m so sorry to hear you feel this way……sending hugs from Miami! Thank you for sharing such vulnerable feelings and thoughts. You are not alone.

    • We are definitely our own worst critics! I know what I see isn’t what others do, but that doesn’t make it easier. Thanks for reading and taking the time to send a message!

  • Girl, I think you are GORGEOUS and I’m so inspired by you sharing your story (sometimes it’s easier to just focus on the good on here, but the hard times are important too!) Sending you a big hug right now and know that you are beautiful! xx

    • Thank you, sweet friend! It’s always a little scary to get so open and honest around these parts, so I sincerely appreciate you saying what you did. That’s why this community is so wonderful!

  • Julie

    Hang in there. I hope this passes for you quickly and until it does, just hang in there.

  • It’s like you knew I needed this today. Girl YES. To all of this, yes. I’m proud of you for taking steps; I’m just at the complaining and getting mad at myself stage. This is encouraging; thank you for sharing this bit of yourself!

    • I know, I was laughing a little when I read your post yesterday. Clearly, we are on the same wave length! Don’t be too hard on yourself, girl – maybe we can help each other through it all. Here if you need me!

  • Girl, come to Chicago so that I can give you a hug! Oh and buy you a drink!! I have felt like that too. Sometimes when I scroll through Instagram I feel like a looser because I don’t have as many followers as others or my feed isn’t as pretty. Or I look in the mirror and I think that I look old. :-/ You are one of the most genuine and REAL bloggers that I have ever met. That is my favorite thing about you. You are also beautiful. Keep being you and stay true to yourself. 🙂

    • Oh gosh, don’t let those silly things get you down! I totally hear ya and know how you feel, though. Thank you for the kind words!

  • Tammy Nelson

    I’ve followed you for some time and I adore you ! I always find your posts so encouraging, your hair tutorials are so wonderful ! You are more real an a lot of bloggers that I follow. You are wonderful, amazing and genuine ! I do not know you in person BUT if we were real friends I know we’d get along very well. XoxO

  • This is such a beautiful post. Thank you for speaking up about it and inspiring others to learn to combat negative body images, which is still a huge issue these days, sadly.

    Jessica | notjessfashion.com

    • Thank you, Jessica! It is unfortunate that we as women are still so hard on ourselves and each other, but my hope was that being honest and open would help continue the important conversation to love ourselves. Thank you for reading!

  • oh girl. i am sorry i am so late to get to this.

    first off, you know you can always text me if you want me to tell the voice in your head to shut up.

    secondly, i used to be so so awful with this. i am like 99% better. trust me when i say you can overcome this, gosh that sounds corny, but it’s true. i was so bad that i couldn’t even look in the mirror without an immediate ‘ugh’ and awful thoughts shooting through my mind. it took me a LONG time to stop having these thoughts or making faces at myself. but, you started out confident, so hopefully it won’t take you as long. i’ve hated my looks since i was like 11. hard habits to break.

    the thing is, people telling us we are gorgeous or fine or that we have a distorted view of ourselves is all good and well, but that doesn’t actually help. your thoughts and opinions are valid, even if they aren’t correct (because obviously you ARE gorgeous and do have a distorted view of yourself). you have to learn how to change your view, opinion and thoughts on your own, not based on other people’s encouragement. that sounds weird and silly because people encouraging us is awesome! yes it is, but what if those same people tell you you’re right, that you are fat and ugly? do we believe them then? of course not. so make yourself believe it first.

    as for stopping those thoughts? all the corny things you can think of. i would shake my head and yell NO (in my head or out loud, if i was alone lol). yes, i felt like an idiot, yes it got old, yes it felt pointless, especially at the beginning. i kept doing it though. i didn’t try and lie to myself and tell myself i looked pretty or not fat, no. that was not the goal at first, the goal was to stop the negative thoughts. they didn’t need to be replaced, they needed to get gone. then i practiced when people gave me compliments (namely KC or my friends) i said thank you and then i shut THE HELL UP. both inside and out loud. i told my thoughts they had no business coming up with arguments or whatever, and to accept the compliment. often, after a compliment, i would start talking about something else immediately. not in a deflection way, but in a ‘thank you! now i need to talk about something so that i don’t argue/think you are lying’.

    then all of a sudden one day i realised that i didn’t screw my face up and say ‘blegh’ when i looked in the mirror. and i wanted to cry. because after hating yourself for like 15 years, that’s a really good feeling. i am constantly working on it still. i think i always will be. i got on the treadmill this morning and looked at my legs and had a very small fleeting ‘you’re so fat’ thought. and yeah, the scale is higher lately. whatever. i ran on the treadmill and a few minutes after sweating it out, i wasn’t thinking that anymore.

    i think also, growing up in general has helped me. i’m more mature and i just don’t care about the things i used to care about. i want to be healthy so that i can avoid things like having a stroke, like my mum. i know we can’t prevent everything, but i can take care of myself and my body, hopefully it will treat me well in return. but mostly, 100% of the reason is because i cannot, i absolutely will not, put my issues on a child. and i will, if i have them. because i have them because of my mum. i love her, i know you know that, but she had issues and i believed everything she said, even though she has always been smaller than me. but i believed that was all that mattered. then i went into modelling and they told me i was too fat. girls at school were mean and told me i was fat. i let so many people dictate how i felt, but it started with watching my mum, listening to her call herself fat. i cannot do that to a child. i wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

    running is great. if it makes you feel strong, powerful, happy and a stress reliever, that is AMAZING.

    sorry for the insanely long comment. hopefully no one else will see this because it’s been a week since you posted lol.

    summary! i am always here if you need a chat. you can get through this. you are amazing. don’t ever forget it!

    • I seriously love you and everything you said here.

      It’s definitely hard to first and foremost adjust our own view of ourselves instead of just relying on other people to compliment us/build us up. You’re right that that’s all fine and good, but what we see and believe is valid, too. Like we’ve discussed before and what you’ve taught me, I’m trying to combat those feelings when I look in the mirror by remembering to only say/think things to myself that I would want others to hear. Would I ever want my child or closest friends to hear the negative things? No. Would I say them to other people? Of course not.

      I think you’re onto something, too with getting older and just not caring. I mean, of course I/we care about our personal appearance, but it becomes more and more about health instead of being able to rock the latest trends (even though I rarely follow the latest trends, lol) or the number on the scale. I’m trying to focus on how my clothes fit and if I shop for new ones, how those too fit instead of the size or number. And, above all, I just want to be healthy so I can live a long life with Ryan and hopefully a family with minimal to no complications. Dream scenario, right?

      Thank you for all your support, encouragement and just generally being there for me. Always a text away! <3