This Influencer Realized a Habit She Learned Growing Up Was Seriously Messing With Her Body Image

Flexing your muscles might make you look like a badass. But guess what, you look (and feel) just as beautiful with your muscles relaxed. That was a key lesson for one influencer throughout her self-love journey, and she recently opened up about how it affected her on Instagram.

“From the time I was very little until 2 years ago, my #selfconfidence was attached to how flat my midsection was,” Mary Jelkovsky captioned an August 28 post. “I’d walk around with my abs flexed, only post photos where my stomach looked slender and killed myself with diet and exercise to have that ‘fit’ body.”

On a side-by-side photo of herself first squeezing in her stomach then letting it relax, Jelkovsky wrote that she’s learned to separate how confident she feels from what her abdomen looks like. In her caption, she explained why that wasn’t always the case.

Growing up, her grandma would tell her to suck in to make her stomach flat. In fact, she heard it so much it became ingrained in her mind, and she quickly got to a point where the way her midsection looked could ruin her entire day.

It took years, but Jelkovsky was finally able to stop allowing her physical features to dictate her life. “I don’t let my body-IMAGE get in the way of my life EXPERIENCE,” she wrote.

However, she isn’t completely immune to negative thoughts. “Yes, there are days where I don’t necessarily like how I look, but I don’t let those interfere with my values,” Jelkovsky said. “My body is no longer attached to my confidence because they are 2 separate things.”

Another thing that helped her: Allowing herself to gain some weight. “The sky didn’t fall, my friends and family still love me (grandma included), and I can still do amazing things without perfect abs,” she wrote.

If self-love is something you’re working on (aren’t we all), adopt Jelkovsky’s mantra: “I no longer let my body image get in the way of my life experience.”

When you find yourself worrying about how you look, stop for a minute and say it either in your head or out loud. Like Jelkovsky, you can use this phrase to reassure yourself that you deserve to feel confident—because hey, you look damn good.

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