At first glance, Instagram is a sea of toned, unblemished bodies. But look a little bit closer, and you'll realise that most of the people we aspire to look like actually have many of the same body hang-ups as us: cellulite, stretch marks, wobbly skin, rolls, the list goes on.
And fitness influencer Aylish Rutherford reminded her 123,000 followers of this fact in the most impactful way. After being questioned by her followers on how and why her skin is so flawless all over her body, she realised it was important to show that she's no different to anyone else.
So she posted a side-by-side photo proving exactly that:
"Both me, both equally beautiful," Aylish wrote of the comparison photos - one where her cellulite and stretch marks aren't visible, and one where they are.
"In no way I am complaining about my body, saying I am fat or claiming to be," she continued, adding that she was "simply showing how easy it is to only see the *negatives* when you spend 24 hours per day with your body, whilst seeing perfectly posed photos of girls online for a few seconds."
And it's such a valid point. Faced with our bodies in the mirror day in, day out, we scrutinise ourselves from every angle. It means that when we scroll through Instagram and catch a posed and filtered photograph of a woman looking good, we end up feeling terrible about ourselves. But that dented self-esteem isn't actually based on any kind of reality.
"I always got asked, 'How don’t you have cellulite?' and 'How are you so lean and toned?'" Aylish told Health. "My answer was always the same, 'I do have cellulite, stretch marks, and my skin moves, sags, and bloats just like everyone else!'"
On the caption of her side-by-side picture, which has more than 8,000 likes, Aylish addressed exactly that. "I have fat, I have cellulite, I have stretch marks (which cover my whole thighs) but IAM none of these things," she wrote. "They don’t define me & they don’t make me think any less of myself."
Of course, like many women, Aylish didn't always have this body positivity and self-love. "I used to spend my days as a teenager rubbing bio-oil into my thighs for HOURS, because seeing my stretch marks made me feel disgusted in myself," she admitted. But society's perspective on body image is changing, and Aylish is proud to be a part of it.
"Stretch marks simply show we’ve grown," she commented. "Cellulite is literally just leg / bum dimples," she added, concluding: "No matter your shape, weight & size, you are beautiful and worthy - don’t ever forget that."
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