I have always been so aware of my body. Ever since I was young, the first thing people would notice, and unfortunately, point out, would be my body. I was put under the lens – scrutinized. Harsh words disguised as jokes were thrown my way. Like a lab rat, my body image was tested, customized to their liking – distorted.
That birthed a lot of insecurities, and it has been a long battle of self-worth from there on.
It was even harder when I had to stay at home due to the pandemic. I had almost lost the will to continue what I once loved doing, and suddenly, posts calling out those who have let themselves go surface as if it’s the base of surviving. To say that I’m mad would be an understatement. I was furious – not at those posts, but at myself. I kept on beating myself up for something that isn’t my fault.
Coming in terms with the way I view myself, didn’t exactly come easily. I have learned to somehow listen to my body, but there are still days when loving it seems hard. Often, I find myself back in square one – hating my body, and drowning in insecurity. I have to remind myself that it’s okay, that it’s part of the battle. And when it gets harder to remember, I am glad someone’s here to remind me.
Danae Mercer is an American journalist, content creator, and speaker who’s currently based in Dubai, UAE. She has worked in the media industry for 10 years, and as the previous Editor-in-Chief of Women’s Health Middle East, she’s passionate to share what she’s learned along the way. Her advocacy? To remind women, especially, that the reality we see on social media is a curated one, and is not worth comparing your body and yourself too.
With over two million followers on Instagram, her empowering message always points to one goal – from cellulite and stretch marks to every part that makes you insecure – your body is normal. Danae hopes to help other women feel better in their own skin.
I can’t even remember how I came upon her Instagram account. I am not entirely sure what I found on her page that made me click ‘follow.’ Maybe it is to find solace in the fact that I have some two million people alongside me as I try and focus on what’s good in me.
Maybe I found it as a way of the heavens telling me that being kind to yourself is an option, too.
Social media is full of flawless-looking photos. Sometimes, the pressure of wanting to look like a Barbie doll straight out of the box or a model that walked right from a magazine’s pages gets to us. It messes us up.
Danae reminds us that not everything we see online is real.
Ever since Danae started speaking about body image on social media in April of 2019, her goal has always been:
Although knowing what goes behind a perfect Insta-snap won’t erase the negative body image we have on ourselves, it’s a good start knowing that our insecurities are not flaws. It goes to show that our bodies – the same one that’s been shunned, vilified, thousand times over – are normal.
Self-love isn’t just losing weight and feeling good about progress. It is about the in-betweens. Self-love is giving yourself more food if you still feel hungry. It is listening to your body, and not overworking it during a workout. It is asking for help, may it be through others or professionally, when you know you have to. Self-love means that even on our bad days – and we will have bad days – we still give our bodies the kindness it is worthy of.
In college, due to her mother’s passing, Danae found herself in the folds of grief. She was struggling to manage everything, anything, that she sought to control food – she developed an eating disorder. It wasn’t until she has accepted help that she started to see that her body is a great tool of power.
The hate we throw towards our bodies was born out of the social pressure to hold ourselves over artificial beauty standards. It is not our fault that we aren’t as fair, as skinny, or as tall as they would’ve liked us to be. But it is also not too late yet to take the first step towards being at peace with our bodies. To look at it and feel okay – normal.
The journey to self-love may not be linear. Having a positive body image will certainly not be a walk in the park. But for the sake of our sanity, of the calmness within, it is a journey definitely worth taking.
Joma is an enthusiastic public-speaker and a passionate story-teller. Armed with a pen, her wild ideas, and zest for the unseen, she goes far and wide to sew words and unearth stories. Beyond what she loves, you'll find her snuggled in between silent giggles, engrossed with rom-coms and sweet delights.