Image 27-06-2016 at 11.14

 

I had a conversation the other day with a fellow blogger that inspired this post.

 
I recently heard about Yoga bloggers on Instagram, Photoshopping their photos to make their bodies look thinner or more perfect in their photos.
 
In the same week, I also heard a story about food bloggers spending hours to get a perfect shot of their healthy food or crazy-amazing rainbow looking smoothie, with perfect drizzles coming down the side of a perfect mason jar, then – throwing it out because they were never actually planning to eat it in the first place, because they are battling with a crippling eating disorder and this is their way of dealing with it. 
But on the surface they appear to be a leading a super healthy and vibrant lifestyle, drinking healthy smoothies and cooking up big delicious dishes.
 
Both of these stories were deeply upsetting to me and really struck a chord
 
How much of what we see on Social Media is actually real?
 
When I first started blogging about food 3 years ago, I was sharing pictures of beautiful green smoothies and vegan meals, but what I wasn’t sharing, was the fact I was still obsessively weighing myself, still hated my body, and was bingeing on whole packs of medjool dates at any one time, and processed vegan junk food, often instead of eating real food or having proper meals.
 
We know by now, that Instagram and Facebook posts are simply the highlight reels of everyone’s lives, and never the full story.
 
You would maybe share a photo of you looking great at a party. But would you post one of you at the end of the night when you were completely plastered, and needed to be put in a taxi home? 
 
You would maybe share a photo of you and your boyfriend looking super happy and relaxed together, but would you post one of when you’re going through really hard times and constantly fighting with each other?
 
You would maybe share a photo of your body when you’ve been really hitting the gym and just completed a detox. But would you post one of your body when you just ate ’til you thought you were about to pop?
 
The food blogger probably doesn’t share the junk food she eats on the weekend, only the healthy meals she prepares and makes photo-ready Monday to Friday.
 
The model who posts 3 selfies a day with perfect, glowing skin is actually struggling with acne all over her face, but edits all her selfies with an app, so she has the perfect complexion in photos.
 
The travel blogger shows herself on a beach in a bikini having a blast, but doesn’t show that she’s alone in a hotel room crippled with loneliness because she has nobody to share it with apart from her 100k followers.
 
The fashion blogger shows herself kitted out in expensive designer clothes and handbags for her ‘OOTD’ – but doesn’t share that she actually is in thousands of dollars worth of credit card debt and has no idea how she will be paying her rent this month.
 
Models might show photos of themselves having a blast on yachts in the south of France, but they certainly don’t show the photo of the older rich guy that actually owns the yacht. 
 
Obviously I’m generalising – but you get my point.
 
I often receive messages on Facebook from people who say things like , ‘Wow Mel, everything looks like it’s amazing for you! You’re living the dream!’
 
While I am grateful to live a life I truly adore 99.9% of the time…and most of my posts generally reflect this by being positive, uplifting and happy – I am still a real person, who also goes through shit times sometimes. Sometimes I read these messages and feel guilty for posting so much stuff that could be perceived to be ‘perfect’ in somebody’s eyes. Because actually behind the scenes, my life is far from perfect, and my close friends and family know that this year has been a complete roller coaster for me. 
 
 
I feel very strongly that women who have a following on social media have a certain amount of responsibility to let their followers see their real lives, not just their fake ‘shiny’ ones from their highlight reel.
 
So…

In an attempt to give you more of my full story, here are some of my Highlight Reels from my life right now, and then The Parts I didn’t post (up til now…)
 
 
May I say – that while I do post the highlights, my reasons for not posting the ‘part I didn’t post’ up til now – is not to do with me not wanting to share the full story with you, or trying to cover things up.It’s more to do with the fact that I want my posts to be positive, uplifting and empowering to those who see it (as I feel is the case with most bloggers).
 
And I am a big believer in that energetically you get more of what you give out!
So in order to attract more of the good stuff into my life, I share what I am grateful for and what makes me happy – not what I am upset or aggravated over. I hope this makes sense.
 
This is all rather personal and vulnerable for me but here goes. It took a lot for me to open up to you guys last year about my past struggles with food and eating disorders, but in doing so, not only did it help me gain closure – but it also helped THOUSANDS of you. So it was worth it a million percent!
 
So here we go…
 
 
 
Highlight Reel: I recently had a blast on a 6 week solo adventure in New York, California and Miami! I’m having the time of my life!
 
The part I didn’t post: Earlier in the year I went through (and still am going through) what can only be described as a quarter life crisis, which resulted in the break up of my marriage that devastated me. I booked this 6 week trip when I decided I was done with crying every day. I was barely functioning, and didn’t even know where I was going to live. The truth is I booked this trip when I felt like my life had fallen apart and watching Eat Pray Love and Sex and The City was all I could do to stop myself from crying. This solo trip was an act of self love and a way for me to discover who I really am, and what I want from this new chapter of my life.
 
Highlight Reel: I had an amazing time in Joshua Tree, California, stayed in a gorgeous log cabin and hiked up a mountain! (and took loads of cool photos from the top of the mountain like this):
 
 
 
The part I didn’t post: The night before I took this photo, I woke up in tears in the middle of the night in the log cabin, because I had a vivid dream about a conversation I was having with my Dad, who passed away 3 years ago. For those of you who have lost a parent, sibling, or someone close to you, you will know – those nights don’t go away.
 
Highlight Reel: I love being an adventurer! I love travelling! I’m a free spirit 🙂
 
The part I didn’t post: I also still sometimes get bouts of anxiety when I’m away from home. This 6 weeks has been a real test of strength for me and has taught me how I can easily stop looking after myself when I’m away from my comforts like my kitchen, my juicer, and my yoga studio/gym. Being away from home used to be a big trigger for my food, so this was a huge test for me and I’m very proud of myself for how far I’ve now come with it.
 
Highlight Reel: I have a lot of moments of “I love my life so much!” and I practice gratitude every single day.
 
The part I didn’t post: Sometimes I have still have days where I’m so overwhelmed I just want to curl up and hide under the covers all day and not show up in my life at all. Yep! I have those days too.
 
Highlight Reel: I have a lot of friends all around the world, I’m a social butterfly! 
 
The part I didn’t post: Sometimes I really just don’t want to be around any people whatsoever, I want to go in my own little bubble and just reflect by myself and recharge my batteries without anyone else around. And I think it’s absolutely Ok to do that.
 
I posted lovely photos of healthy food in New York, but I didn’t post about all the cocktails I drank there too, and the unhealthy bar food like calamari and tacos I ordered a few times late at night. I didn’t post about that, because it’s not a beautiful or healthy photo, and wouldn’t inspire any of my followers to lead healthier and happier lives. But – it happened! 🙂
 
I finally love living in my body, but it’s a relationship I’m still working on, that takes time and effort and commitment to always let the love in. I still get negative thoughts creep in about myself and my body from time to time but I work hard to shut them down completely by telling them they are unwelcome. I never let them transcend into anything significant, often challenging them to come forth and manifest if they would be so brave, but they never do because the Love outweighs the fear.
 
I also reached out to some of my Blogger friends to ask them to do the same and share some highlight reels VS full stories! Here are some of the super interesting responses I got….
 
 
“I used to blog about fashion, beauty, and generally living as glamorously as my graduate income would allow. But I didn’t write about how my boyfriend was verbally, emotionally and ultimately physically abusing me.”Gabriella, Fashion Blogger
 
 
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel under pressure to present myself and my lifestyle in a certain way. I forget looking at other people’s blogs and social media profiles that they probably worry about it too. Everything goes through a filter! And I’ll primp, reposition, and tweak things from my hair parting to the words on the post. It’s never as effortless as it looks.” – Lucy, Lifestyle Blogger
 
 
“My blog is all based on being a healthy mom, but the reality is, yes I do those things but for every nice moment we have there’s always lots of tears and tantrums and stress in the day! People always say they don’t know how I do it because I make everything from scratch, but I have to because of my son’s allergies – and although the food looks pretty in the photo, my kitchen is a complete tip! In fact my whole house is a tip from where he’s been wrecking the place whilst I’m trying to make beautiful food for perfect pictures! I also still have the battle of my kids wanting junk food – on my Instagram I post pictures of them eating healthy food but I don’t post a picture of the battle I’ve had in the supermarket trying to get sweets off him!!” – Tanya, Food Blogger
 
 
“For every 1 yoga picture that makes it onto my Instagram feed I have 200 fails!” – Sasha, Yoga Blogger
 
 
“It’s often the most perfect looking people and relationships that are plastered all over social media that have the most insecurities or hidden problems behind the scenes. I for one have always been a happy, smily confident character who always posts positive photos, but as a result of this behaviour and confidence, no one tends to ask me if I am ok, or ask how things are going on in my life, as they think it is so perfect from the images I post…..” – Hannah, Food Blogger
 
 
“Instagram sees a fraction of my life. It doesn’t see my batman PJs that my mum picked me up from Asda, or the fact I spilt tomato juice all down my top today whilst watching an old rerun of Friends. It doesn’t see my melt downs. It doesn’t see that the perfect marble flat lay is actually a cheap roll of sticky back plastic shoved to the side of my dresser.” – Zoe, Beauty Blogger
 
 
You heard it from them, guys.
 
 
Don’t take social media seriously. After all, it’s just a photo.
 
 
Real life is what happens behind the lens, not in front of it.
When the phones are left in the bags because you’re having such a good time you forget to take photos. 
 
Thank you for holding a place for me to share.
 
 
To being comparison free – and living a gorgeously messy, unretouched life behind the lens,
 
 
Mel 
XO 

 

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