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I’m Telling The Truth

Let's be honest by Emily Nolan

I am a liability, or a tremendous value add; of which I know the latter to be true. The service of honesty breaks the scale when measured against the disinterest of brands and individuals that cower in fear at the idea of transparency. This sounds sharp from my tongue; however, I have survived in the shadows of this fear for most of my young adult and adult life. It’s all most of us will ever know, operating out of scarcity, in fear that what we are is too big, too great, to fit into a conforming, socially acceptable idea of what we should be. What I learned a couple years ago as I repelled my way into the deepest well of self-doubt, is that living with radical honesty has forever changed me. But sometimes you have to drink the muck at the bottom of the well, just to know how divine the first sip at the top is.

I want the truth, crave it. I grew up singing childhood jingles and reading books about being rewarded for honesty and truthfulness, yet from the youngest age, I also learned that there are things I should never talk about. For me, it was my body. I never felt comfortable discussing the topic. I was bigger than all of my friends; second tallest in the class. Looking back, I never felt worthy when I transitioned from girl to woman. I was a competitive athlete from a young age. My catcher’s thighs doubled any of my guy friend’s; a far cry from the musculature length of Joseph Pilates or the popular transparent thinness of Kate Moss. Seeing crop tops on my friends made me sweat from anxiety. I’d never be able to wear one, still to this day it paralyzes me when I think about wearing them. I’d never be Cluelessly female. At best, I’d always border tomboy.

Which is actually pretty fun, to live my life happy in my own skin, celebrated for being sporty, casual, easy going.

For 20 years, I was afraid my Mom would think my struggles with body image were her fault, that she was to blame for my insecurities, however I’m pointing my finger at the media and the lack of self-responsibility from editors. I grew up consuming magazines, glossed from cover to cover with gorgeously stunning images of half-naked women that never remotely represented me. I always felt like I had to look like the women in the magazines in order to feel like I had a body that could be celebrated and loved.

We have to acknowledge our self-responsibility. This means, being conscious consumers, speaking honestly about what trends we’re seeing with our children, friends, family. As the food industry shifts their marketing from the resounding consumer pull for local, organic produce, we too are tapping into socially accepting and encouraging conversations around our body image; talking about disordered eating, body dysmorphia. Plastic surgery, we’re getting there.

As individuals, we’re much more of a contribution when we’re bravely vulnerable, courageously truthful, when we let the chinks in our armor reveal our true nature. My thoughts on radical honesty in body image and media have shaken the dust off of antiquated ideas that we need to be as calculated as models in magazines, publicly perfect.

Consumers want to see real people in media and feel celebrated as normal. Normal outstanding moms, normal ambitious young working females, normal loving husbands, normal beautiful homes, normal fast cars, comfortable finances. To see normalcy, beautified, celebrated, would make me feel so much better about my life–in fact, it might be the push that makes me want to buy magazines again.

Our media thrives on the extreme outliers; everything is so far out of our reach, that if we can’t take a step back to see how vastly far from normal what we’re being sold is, we’ll spend our lives trying to catch a carrot we’ll never taste. I’m not a whistle blower for destructive media, rather I’m creating a space for us to thrive in realness, to accept who and what we are in this moment as honest and excellent. And if we we’re all honest (including media), would shame exist? If I bravely reveal to you the extent to which I’ve struggled with body image, would your confession feel so shameful?

I’m flattered to often be the first person to hear your most “shameful” stories. Bookend comments, after an intimate tête-à-tête with a TOPLESS guest or MKOL reader end with, “…and you’re the only person I’ve ever told this to.” People feel comfortable telling me about their shame and struggle because revealing honesty fosters an empowering, safe, open door policy. I share the chinks in my armor, and it makes you feel good, and feel like you can share yours, too, without losing your hard-earned “value” as a human.

People have confessed how powerful it is for them to hear me speak freely about my struggles: body dysmorphia, disordered eating, female athlete triad, plastic surgery. That hearing the truth escape my lips so generously and unguarded opens a doorway for them to access and share their own struggles. Wouldn’t you love to see media share the same healing transparency?

We’re crippled when we’re faced with telling the truth (it’s debilitating to even think about it, I know!). Many of us don’t know how to live with the truth, so we spend our lives trying to avoid it. The only way I discovered that I had to speak about my truth was by letting my pot boil over, with lies, omissions about my journey. However, had there been a network of women surrounding me that held space for my vulnerability, than I know I could have stopped my boiling pot on a simmer.

You already have the courage that you’ll need to reach out and tell someone what’s going on in your life; Faith. I believe in you. When you’re ready, pick up the phone and make the call home. Tell Mom about your eating disorder and start your healing journey. Still struggling with your postpartum body? Start a small Mom’s group that empowers new mothers to share their #takebackpostpartum struggles without judgement. Bring wine and chocolate.

What’s important, is that we’re brave enough to tell our truths. That we endorse honesty as the most important social qualifier.

Your pot doesn’t have to boil over. You’re brave enough, come let go of the truth with me.

I’ll leave you with a quote that’s glued to my vision board: “The first spiritual quality we need to have is not faith; it is courage.”

@MykindofLife_Em Intagram

photo Cristin Powers

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this kinda rocks!
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this kinda rocks!
oh darling, indulge a little