You may have noticed photographs of women proudly holding up donuts and pizza jamming your Instagram feed recently; instead of the green juices and picture perfect breakfast bowls that are usually prevalent across the 500 million-strong photo-sharing network.
There has been a backlash against the #TransformationTuesday hashtag – which is traditionally used to document weight-loss journeys – with a wave of brave women coming forward and revealing the misery they felt on the inside when they were posing for smiley, bikini beach body pictures.
At the forefront of this movement is anorexia survivor Amanda, 24, who is a body positive activist and blogger from Baltimore and regularly posts Instagram pictures of donuts, pizza, burgers, full English breakfasts and lots of burritos – as well as messages which are aimed at empowering women who may be struggling with a negative body image.
Amanda recently made headlines across the globe when she called on people to think twice before they compliment skinny girls for their weight loss, and potentially legitimise an ‘ideal body’ – which might have been gained at an unthinkable cost to their physical and mental health.
We wanted to find out more so we sat down for an interview with Amanda…
Q: Your recent Transformation Tuesday post (here) has had a lot of attention and a hugely positive reaction over the past few weeks. It was as if a loud cheer went up around the Internet – do you feel that women on Instagram and other social media networks are having an awakening and that there’s a backlash against society’s attitude to weight loss and thinness as a sign of health?
A: I definitely think things are changing for the better. Women are finally getting tired of the pressure to be thin and it’s amazing to be part of a movement so dedicated to taking back our power. We’re ready to be recognised for who we are not what we look like. It feels like we are finally being heard.
Q: We’ve noticed that lots of people – including you – are posting photos of donuts on Instagram instead of green berry water made with low cal Himalayan yak’s milk (or whatever the latest faddy food trend is). Can you tell us a bit more about that please?
A: I eat what I want, when I want. And I think that’s what everyone should be doing. No calorie counting, no stressing about “clean eating”, no fad diets. People spend so much time stressing about what they should or shouldn’t be eating and it’s not only unnecessary but it’s exhausting and miserable. Food is meant to be enjoyable! Eat what makes you happy. And no, you won’t only eat donuts and pizza forever. Your body knows what it needs. When it needs a green smoothie or a bowl of spinach, it will crave it. Trust your body. Love your life and the food you’re eating.
Q: We certainly agree with that. We also loved your post on Instagram where you talked about women being much more than a number and to throw away the scales (below) – can you tell us more about what inspired that?
A: Having struggled with anorexia for 3 years now, it breaks my heart to see other women falling into the same trap. My biggest wish in life is that we begin to see our true beauty and realise how radiant and incredible our spirits are, how perfect we already are. I hate watching women diminish their shine or waste their lives starving themselves. We are ALL worth so much more than that. Our bodies aren’t what make us beautiful, our souls do.
Q: That’s what we believe too; that women already have the perfect body and they are fine as they are. Your blog is a brilliant resource for women who are recovering from eating disorders – what do you think the most important thing that people who haven’t ever grappled with an eating disorder is that we can do to help and NOT post things that might be triggers?
A: We all have our own unique triggers so there’s no way to protect everyone. Obviously posts about calories or diets or weight will be triggering but also posts praising a certain body type or focused on looks can be dangerous. However, there will ALWAYS be triggers for those of us in recovery so it’s more productive to learn how to cope with those triggers than try to get rid of all triggers because that’s unfortunately impossible in our society.
Q: Do you think in general that social media can be a force for good or has it been extremely damaging and toxic for you in the past?
A: I think social media can go either way. I have met some of my closest friends on Instagram, amazing women who have changed my life for the better and have been such a source of support and inspiration for my recovery. However, it can also be very dangerous. It is way too easy to fall into the comparison trap when you see someone eating a few leaves of lettuce for dinner or working out all the time or promoting some new raw vegan paleo diet. You have to know your limits and know when to back off or unfollow accounts or just take a break from it all together.
Social media can cover up a lot of real life and I think people get sucked into comparing themselves and end up hating themselves for being less than the “perfect” people they see on Instagram.
You are absolutely right when you say we are already perfect as we are, no matter what size we are or what colour our hair is or what our job is.
Lede image is posed by a model. There is no suggestion that the model pictured is not healthy. the photo is merely illustrating the idea explored in the article which is that a perfect picture may not be all that it seems- as was the case for our interviewee.