Pro surfer Bethany Hamilton is getting real about body image in a new Instagram post that challenges people to think about why they view their bodies in a certain way.
"Here's some real talk on body love [and] true value from my opinion," she began in the caption of a photo of herself posing on a beach with her surfboard. "I found that where we place our worth has a huge impact on our confidence and self image."
Hamilton, who survived a shark attack in 2003 that led to the loss of her left arm, said that she's been thinking about "our cultural obsession for the perf body. Especially here on instagram. All of the platforms. And magazines. It's invasive and it's seems to be EVERYWHERE…"
Hamilton, 31, then urged people to think about how this obsession with perfection impacts young men and women-and relationships. "Perfection in the physical is often overly celebrated in my opinion. And we've grown numb or used to it and many of us have adopted the ideal," she said. "But there is sooooo much more to a happy, contented and joy-filled life."
Hamilton also questioned what makes "true beauty" and impacts the world in a positive way. "We can consider qualities like kindness, compassion, thoughtfulness, faithfulness, determination, honesty, loveliness, just being a good friend and human and all of the true good that we have to offer this world," she said.
Hamilton admitted that she struggles with body positivity sometimes, too. "To say I'm not affected by it would be a lie," she said. "But I really do my best to let go of lies and embrace my god given gifts and beauties."
Hamilton then listed off in the comments the ways she stays body-positive:
- She gives thanks. "I start by thanking God for my body and focusing on my abilities in both mind and body. My ability to surf. To serve my family. To grow and birth children(I could go on and on about this one!). To love others. To bring hope to a hurting, fearful and challenged world," she wrote. Hamilton also said s
- She focuses on her health. "I eat nourishing food, and I get movement yet not overdoing it and I make sleep a priority," Hamilton wrote. "I also use natural skin care and avoid toxic anything. Good health will set us up for natural beauty and for a healthy mind too."
- She channels her faith. "I pray for my worries and struggles. I [breathe] and rest and do my best to avoid overloading my plate to minimize stress," she said. "I also focus on where my identity lies. I trust that I'm loved and accepted by God."
"Life is so much more than the perfect body and to those of you out there really struggling. I feel for you," she wrote. "But please know that you are not alone and there are ways to free yourself from this struggle. So today, I encourage you to say no to self abuse. Say no to eating disorders. Say no to accepting the pressure and the lies."
Hamilton also encouraged her followers to get off social media and to spend more time with people they love.
"You can choose to celebrate your true beauty. And know you are loved," she said. "You have purpose in this life. You can focus a little less on yourself and instead look for ways to help and love on others. You can shine in so many meaningful ways. You can bring hope and light by being real and honest. So I encourage you to be brave enough to say no to the lies and instead be truest beautiful YOU. And be persistent for as long as it takes to overcome."
There were a lot of raised hand emojis in the comments, along with people chiming in about their own experiences with body positivity. "Body confidence is rare for me," one wrote. "I'm in the middle of a bad body struggle and this was so great to read," someone else said.
Hamilton has spoken out about body positivity in the past, even writing a 2019 blog post called "Why I Love My Body."
"To be honest I don't always feel stoked about my body, but for the most part I'm pretty thankful," she wrote. "When I find my mind running with negative feelings, it more than likely stems from an unthankful attitude, comparison, or the absurd but all too common thought that I'm not good enough; all of which are really basic mindsets."
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