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How Instragram Caused My Negative Body Image, and How I Overcame it

“I constantly compared my body to everyone else’s. And I viewed my perfectly healthy body as “bad” and not good enough. I was self-conscious of what I wore and always strived to wear clothes that hid my insecurities. I didn’t allow myself to wear clothes I loved because they highlighted a perceived flaw in my body.”

Struggled with:
Negative body image

Hello! Who are you?

I’m Skye Sauchelli, a small-town 20-something-year-old who lives on the Jersey Shore. I grew up 20 minutes from the beach and still call it home today. I bought a house with my husband last year that’s just around the corner from my childhood home. 

I’m super family-oriented, love baking healthy versions of my favorite sweets, and absolutely love going on walks with my rescue pup. 

I truly feel so content and happy in my current life since I started moving at a slower pace and started being super intentional about carving out small chunks of time in my day for “me time.” I strive to schedule both joy and rest into my calendar, and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been!

During the day, I work as an Employment Specialist for a nonprofit organization, and by night, I’m a personal development blogger. I absolutely love inspiring others to grow and have made it my life’s mission!

If I could inspire a life-changing movement, it would be a movement focused on empowering young women to feel confident in their physical bodies, their minds, and their pursuits. I think that this three-pronged approach is the key to being unstoppable, thriving women.

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What is your struggle and when did it start?

I have really struggled with my body image in my teenage and young adult years. I felt like I was too “thick,” that my thighs were too giggly, my belly wasn’t flat enough, and my butt wasn’t bubbly enough.

I constantly compared my body to everyone else’s. And I viewed my perfectly healthy body as “bad” and not good enough. I was self-conscious of what I wore and always strived to wear clothes that hid my insecurities. I didn’t allow myself to wear clothes I loved because they highlighted a perceived flaw in my body.

There were a few factors that contributed to my body issues, most notably, social media. I was constantly being bombarded with images of friends’ (and even strangers’) bodies that seemed perfect (you know – society’s ideal of “perfect”). 

As I graduated high school and transitioned into college, I gained some weight which only exacerbated my body image issues. I became very restrictive with my eating habits and wasn’t fueling my body properly. I limited my caloric intake and tracked my food religiously (and obsessively) in an app.

In my later years of college, and after I graduated, I began to implement a workout routine. But luckily, this routine was rooted in health and genuine wellness. My dad brought me to the gym and taught me the proper form for strength training. At this point, I was starting to understand that working out was not a punishment for what I ate, but rather a celebration of what my body could do. 

Exercise became about getting stronger and building muscle, not about creating a calorie deficit. I think this was the turning point for me. My perspective on food and exercise shifted from a very damaging and unhealthy one to a perspective that was much safer and healthier. 

Even though I have a better understanding of healthy food intake and exercise now, I still struggle sometimes with body image. Sometimes, I look down at my belly rolls and feel discouraged. Other days, I look at that belly and remember all the strength my core holds. I think with body image, confidence, and self-worth, it’s an ongoing journey!

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How did this struggle make you feel at your worst moments?

At its worst, my body image issues caused me to severely restrict my food intake. I would skip meals and then have something as small as a cheese stick for lunch.

When you aren’t filling your body with whole foods in adequate portions, not only is your physical health impacted, but your mental health can take a nose dive. 

I hated how my body looked and I was starving. Of course, I wasn’t feeling my best (both inside and out). But I tried really hard to keep these feelings under wraps because it was kind of my “first soiree” with a mental health struggle.

I didn’t intentionally hide my eating habits. It was more of a subconscious thing. I don’t think many people really noticed the changes I made to my wardrobe because I was so self-conscious about how I looked.

Ultimately, unconsciously, I tried to minimize the impact of these struggles to the outside world. I think I was embarrassed by my feelings.

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Was there a moment when you started to turn things around?

I think the catalyst for change in my body image journey was when I decided to get off of social media. I was totally addicted, especially to Instagram. So I decided to take a step back, and I stayed off of social media for five whole years!

Once I limited my consumption of triggering images and content (super skinny Instagram influencers and such), I slowly started thinking less and less about my body. I stopped focusing so much on it. 

I’d say almost 60% of the change in how I viewed my body came from my action to remove myself from social media. It had been probably 4 years of struggling with my body image before my view of myself began to change. 

The other 40% of the change likely came from the formation of a healthier exercise mindset and other mindset shifts I’ll talk about later.

I started focusing a whole lot less on my body overall, leading to fewer negative feelings about it.

What steps did you take to overcome your struggle?

If you’re also struggling with body image issues, here’s what I recommend:

  • Take a break from social media, or at the very least, mute or unfollow accounts that cause you to feel bad about your own body.
  • Lean into other things that bring you joy so you can shift the focus away from your body and onto other things.
  • Put sticky notes on your mirror that tell you:
    • You are not your body.
    • You are not your belly rolls.
    • You are not your cellulite.
    • You are not your skin.
    • Your worth is not tied to what your body looks like. Your worth is in who you are as a person, on the inside.
  • Stop looking at all of your “imperfections.”
  • Surround yourself with healthy narratives about your body and food/health. Create a circle of friends that are uplifting and encouraging. 
  • Eat when you’re hungry. Listen to your body’s cues.

The journey toward viewing your body in a positive light will be different for everyone. Some people may be harsh on their bodies because they don’t have the toned, defined muscles they want. Others may look at that girl and dream of having her body as they look at their own roles and curves. 

What’s important is that you engage in healthy thought patterns and healthy eating patterns and healthy workout regimens.

If you shift the focus toward health and being healthy, instead of about what your body looks like, you’re on the right track.

And if you’re wondering how long it will take you to get through your body image struggle, I want to remind you that healing is not linear, and your recovery is not a race.

Navigating through these waters is challenging. Your growth toward a better view of your body will take time and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. 

As long as you are making daily movements toward loving your body more, you’re doing good. It’s totally normal to have bad days. Maybe you’re extra harsh on yourself after a string of better days. Don’t let that ruin your progress. Accept the bad day, and move on from there.

And the last thing I’ll challenge you with is to not go through this journey alone. Share your struggles with a trusted friend or mentor.

Growth and healing are both found in community.

Have you shared any of this with people around you in real life?

I only really started talking about my body image issues once I got into my mid-20s. I think I had a better handle on the impact it had on me, and a better idea of how to thoughtfully share about it as I got a bit older.

I try my best to be an open book, but I also didn’t go around and advertise my struggles. If a friend came to me to chat about her own struggles relating to this, I’d absolutely be open about my struggles. But it’s not like I ran to my loved ones to tell them I was engaging in restrictive eating because I hated my body.

I didn’t talk about it at school, but I talked about it with my (now) husband and some friends. I didn’t really want to advertise it so I didn’t share it with anyone who wasn’t close to me. I didn’t formally tell my parents, but I never intentionally kept it from them either – probably because, at the time, I didn’t realize the gravity of restrictive eating.

I’ve always had an affinity for talking about mental health, probably because I love psychology and that’s what I went to school for. So thankfully, for me, I had the vocabulary and knowledge to think through and talk about it.

Even if you don’t have an understanding of mental health, you can use the feelings you have to share with a loved one. Your feelings are valid and nobody can take them away from you.

If you could give a single piece of advice to someone else that struggles, what would that be?

If you’re struggling with your body image, I want to tell you this:

You are so much more than your body. Your worth and value are found so much deeper than your outer shell.

And I want to remind you of all the seriously crazy things your body does for you each day. It digests your food and breathes for you without you having to think about it. Your legs get you where you need to go each day. Your core and other muscles help you carry out everyday tasks. Your beautiful mind is functioning every second of every day to help you learn and remember things.

You hate this body so much, despite all the work it does for you.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, YouTube channels, or other resources for you?

I’ve come across a few really helpful resources over the years that have helped me along my body image journey:

  • Jenna Kutcher’s Instagram account: Her account has shaped how I view my body. She often writes about how she loves her cellulite and rolls and smile lines so much because they are proof that her body is working FOR her.
  • Woman Code by Alisa Vitti: This book helped me understand how beautifully my body works. It educated me on my hormones and gave me a better understanding of the inner workings of my body so I could appreciate it for more than what it looked like.
  • Jordan Lee Dooley’s She Podcast: This podcast discusses a host of topics about womanhood and health, and while it doesn’t solely target body image, the host walks through her journey toward holistic health.

Where can we go to learn more about you?

You can find me online on my personal development website, Thriving and Inspiring. I’m so passionate about scheduling in both joy and rest, I created a self-care calendar- a Feel Good Challenge for it! Find it here.

You can also follow me on Instagram, connect on LinkedIn, or find me on Pinterest. I’m most active on Pinterest and Instagram! Follow me for uplifting and encouraging quotes and infographics that all point to new bi-monthly blog posts!

Lastly, I send out bi-monthly newsletters to my email club! Join here!

💡 By the way: If you want to start feeling better and more productive, I’ve condensed the information of 100’s of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet here. 👇

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Hugo Huijer AuthorLinkedIn Logo

Founder of Tracking Happiness, with over 100 interviews and a focus on practical advice, our content extends beyond happiness tracking. Hailing from the Netherlands, I’m a skateboarding enthusiast, marathon runner, and a dedicated data junkie, tracking my happiness for over a decade.

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