Why this industry
Requires Thick Skin
If you speak to someone who lives part or even all of their life online, it's quite common for them to say 'Oh I have thick skin don't worry about me'. Whether it's said with truth or without, should anyone really need to develop thick skin? Especially when so many of us now choose to share parts of ourselves on social media, for a little joy and even as part of our careers?
I think for a lot of us, you'll find the phrase actually translates to 'I'm human, I have insecurities and some people choose to focus on them to hurt me - but if I say I have thick skin then maybe it'll lessen the emotional hurt'.
Most people will argue that if you choose to share, then of course you'll have to deal with the negative, but that's complete and utter BS. No one deserves hate just because they share their life online for others entertainment. What has happened to humanity that we think that it's okay to attack peoples character or looks? We so often see people leading the charge to be kind online and to be considerate of others because you have no idea of their true situation, but it seems to come in waves and right now there doesn't seem to be a kind wave in sight.
If you're in the mood to chat then settle in, as it certainly feels like the right time to share. Especially after I shared a bikini picture last week and so many of you took the time to shared such important stories and experiences with me.
I don't love myself or my body enough. As someone who shares so much of their life online, you would think that I'd find it easier to ignore the negative and counteract the habits I know I shouldn't partake in, but it actually feels so very hard. Last week I shared a bikini photo on Instagram and believe it or not, even though Alex told me how wonderful I looked in it, I still held my breath as I posted it. I try very hard to form habits that are full of positivity and opportunities to embrace this body of mine. My wonderful body that gets me from A to B and does so much for me but often I struggle and especially so when I battle with myself on being a positive role model. I know other people need to see and hear that life isn't all roses and perfection, and especially so when it comes to how we portray our physical and emotional selves online.
I have a body that's healthy and that should be enough to ensure I nourish it, celebrate it and appreciate all it does for me, but I find it so hard to take my own advice. I struggle weekly with my image and the way in which I want to share myself online but what I've found does help me, is the way others share themselves and aim to lift people with them. If my friends are feeling low and they're brave enough to share with me their hang ups, their sadness or their hurdles they're bravely trying to overcome, I become their cheerleader. I tell them I'll support them, I try my best to be around if they need my shoulder and if it'll help them, I try to bring positivity to our chats. Ironically though, I don't do the same for myself and my own hang ups. I think until so many messages about body insecurities and what's 'normal' appeared in my DM's over the last week, it didn't register with me that it's far more common than I perhaps have previously realised. We celebrate our friends and family and we forget to cheerlead for ourselves.
I'm privileged in so many ways and I have so much to be thankful for in my life but as my best friend always likes to remind me, my feelings and concerns are still valid. If I feel sad, I'm allowed to be sad for a while - I don't tell my friends and loved ones to stop wallowing, so why do I do it to myself? I may tell myself I've gained a thick skin over the years and that the comments created to attack me don't pull me down but I really shouldn't need to, none of us should. As someone with a level of influence that comes hand in hand with any sort of platform (whether you have a thousand, a hundred thousand or millions of people as an audience - we all have some influence on others) we have a responsibility to use that influence for good. I have a responsibility.
For me that responsibility has reinforced my 'need' for thick skin and it's also allowed me to hide the parts of myself I've been scared to share. In turn that's fed into my own insecurities and it's meant I've shared even less of the things I don't feel totally comfortable with. I don't share the things I don't love about myself like my cellulite or what I personally consider to be my flaws, just as people didn't as I was growing up. I don't want the next generation to grow up like ours - faced with airbrushed perfection at every turn. It's simply unfair and it's just not real life. I have cellulite, I don't like it and I don't share it but you know what? It's completely normal and I should share it so that I can play a part in normalising it for others and using some of my influence for something that truly hits home with me.
I think what I'm trying to vocalise is that we shouldn't need to develop thick skin to share these things about ourselves, either online or in real life. I know that growing up viewing the same perfect models with their insanely smooth skin and unattainable figures, even in a pre social media age, was so detrimental to the way I view myself even now. I'm certainly not saying we should all run out and share parts of ourselves we're not comfortable with, as we're all dealing with our own unique ways of living our lives and in a way that allows us to feel safe. But thinking about how I would have loved to have seen cellulite, stretch marks, moles, acne, blemishes, real skin textures and so much more growing up, gives me the confidence, even if I still hold my breath as I publish a bikini photo, to publish it at all.
After all this is me. I have cellulite and that's normal. I won't hide it knowing the impact that sharing it can have on others. Thank you to all the amazing, brave people who shared their stories with me last week and who stepped out of their own comfort zone to do so. I'm so proud to have chatted with you and to have shared my own insecurities too as I learn so much more about embracing myself. You're the reason I want to shed my thick skin. We're truly stronger together x