This Woman Used to Hold Her Breath to Make Herself Look ‘Fitter’ on Instagram—Here’s Why She’s Not Doing That Anymore

As a fitness influencer, 20-year-old Mary Jelkovsky regularly posted social media images meant to inspire others. What her followers didn’t know, however, is that she was actually lacking body confidence. Feeling pressure to look a certain way, she would pose and angle her body so she appeared fitter and thinner than she really was.

Jelkovsky has come clean, and she’s decided she’s done comparing herself with her fellow #fitspo influencers. On Tuesday, she took to Instagram to explain why she felt pressured to pose in her photos.

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“The funny thing is, I was friends with many fitness competitors and models and I’d WATCH them [Photoshop] their pics,” she said in the caption of her post. “But when I’d see the same EDITED photo on my feed I’d still compare my body to theirs and feel unworthy (knowing full well that it was [Photoshopped])!!”

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In her post, Jelkovsky captioned her before-and-after photos “Instagram” and “Reality.” The former shows Jelkovsky with her leggings hiked up, shoulders back, and right foot bent. In the second image, you see her looking more relaxed. She attributed the difference to “poses, angles, butt selfies, sucking in, arching my back, holding my breath, flexing, [and] editing shadows.”

Jelkovsky tells Health that she struggled with anorexia and bulimia, which were exacerbated by participating in bikini fitness competitions. She’s since shared her story of recovery on Instagram and how she started embracing a more body positive attitude.

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“I took that photo because I’ve been doing quite a bit of hiking and yoga and I noticed that only very thin girls post yoga pictures or travel pictures,” she says. “So instead of twisting and turning to be thinner, my girlfriend who was taking the pic said ‘just laugh’ and it felt so freeing to just be me.”

Jelkovesky ended her Instagram post with a call to action.

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“In a world where everything has to be manipulated to fit society’s beauty ideals I think we all could benefit from more natural-ness, more #selflove, and more diversity,” she wrote. “And how much better would life be if we just embraced our bodies and showed up as our REAL selves and empowered others to do the same???”

Self-love and being real? That’s something we all want to see more of on social media.

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