Body Image in Social Media / By Kelsey Othling


Behind the Screen

Although I cannot fully blame social media for my eating disorder, it was the main culprit. I remember first creating my Tumblr account—a girl with a passion for sharing her photography— just trying to get my name out there. Instead of focusing on my interests though, I became sucked into the harmful side of the media. Girls with huge gaps between their thighs as they pinched their thin figures for any sign of fat—I was sickly obsessed. Eating healthier turned into extreme dieting and hours of running. I began to look like the sickly girls in the pictures that were glorified to me, yet I still wasn’t good enough. I thought I would be happier being skinny, but I felt sadder than ever. As my peers went out to football games and restaurants, I sat in my closet and cried about the amount of calories I ate. I had lost all of my friends. Was this the life I envisioned? How come I was not as happy as those girls on the internet?

Deleting the Hate

I finally decided to feed myself—not just with the nourishment of food, but the nourishment of knowledge and positive self-talk. I deleted my Tumblr account, gave up running, and never looked back. I said goodbye to Anorexia. I traded in my anxiety and took out my stress through a new passion of lifting weights. My focus shifted from eating because “I had too” or “I was forced to” to “I need to eat to fuel my growing body”. The weights I lifted mirrored the burdens that had accumulated throughout the years. The callouses on my hands and the stretch marks on my thighs were the scars of healing and the emergence of self-love. I began to see changes in my self-esteem and mood. I didn’t desire a certain body anymore—I desired physical and emotional strength. Whenever I grasp the heavy weight of the barbell and let it rest upon my back as I complete each repetition, I feel the control. I feel challenged. I feel like I’m on top of the world —like I can do anything. Fitness became a huge impact on my life for many reasons. Brittle bones became surrounded by hard-earned muscle. I was developing into the strongest version of myself, physically and mentally. Not only did fitness impact my body, but it changed my mindset for the better. I finally would give up my need for perfection in studies. The eating disorder center had kept me out of school for nearly half a semester Sophomore year, and the work seemed too much to handle when I returned; however, I learned to embrace B’s. I was able to bounce back and become motivated in school. My grades were beginning to again show my true passions and grit. I was truly in recovery and shaping my new identity.

A New Passion

I need to share this passion and determination with others—to let the world know what fitness can do for them, how it healed me, and how it transforms your vision in life. I chose to pursue a degree in Exercise Science to better understand my body and have the authority to allow others to do the same. I strive to know how the contractions of my muscles contribute to the strength of my self-vibrancy. I want to dive deep into the science of my body, learn what it truly desires, and give it what I had been starving it of for so long—freedom and strength. I am prepared to share

my vision and story with the world along with teaching others how our body works, the little complexities that we overlook everyday—all taken for granted. I sometimes look down at my legs, my strong powerful legs that walk me through life and will carry me through life. My core keeps me standing tall and proud to express my opinions and exemplify a purpose. The muscles in the body work together like a machine. If one part was missing, the whole machine would be broken. I became that missing piece. I have a purpose. I am not a number, not a scale weight, not even the amount of repetitions I can lift of a single weight of an exercise. I am a combined matrix of thousands of memories and experiences that have welded me into the person I am today, whom I am proud of for achieving the impossible. I escaped death at the brink of only 83 pounds. I not only gained weight but I gained my life back. I got back the desire to succeed in school and go to college. If it weren’t for these recent events and the disease that has ironically intensified my confidence, I would not be pursuing this college dream. I know I have the capability to not only lift heavy weight physically, but lift the weight of emotions. I hope to inspire others to do the same, and show them how they can become the strongest version of themselves.

Social Media and Perspective

I think exercise can be an obsession or it can be a positive influence on your life. I experienced both sides and am proud to say I have achieved the latter. I am determined to pursue this major in order to fulfill my desires to learn as much as possible about my precious and unique body, and to further my education in the physical strength and conditioning of others, including myself, which benefits the body and mind, as these two are strongly connected. Yes, social media took a toll on my happiness for a few years. It left me wondering if I could ever live up to the standards portrayed by some females in today’s society. After staying two months in an inpatient facility though, I met some inspiring girls that had more interests than the size of their waists. I have connected with girls on social media to gain friendships and spread knowledge, not self-hate. I believe it is all about perspective. There will always be posts and comments that will bring you down, challenge your self-worth, or make you feel that your life is not up to par with the rest of society. The trick is to learn to surround yourself with only people who create a positive aura, stand up for education and self-love, and remind you to focus on your future goals. Most of the people we see on social media only share the good times and the photos with the best lighting or filters. We as girls need to put up our own filter to social media, realize its flaws and benefits, and conquer our dreams in real life as empowered women.


Essay by: Kelsey Othling

Field of Study: Exercise Science/Kinesiology.
Institution: Dutchtown High School Class of 2017; Florida State University Class of 2021

My name is Kelsey and I am an avid photographer and fitness geek! I plan on continuing my education to become a personal trainer and physical therapist specializing in the athletic population. My hobbies include weightlifting, film/photography, and volunteering for my school’s Honor Society. I am very passionate about empowering women and hope to inspire others in the realm of education and fitness.

ⒸGirlterest Scholarship Program 2016


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