I developed a flare for the culinary arts when I first visited Charleston, South Carolina. I had never tasted benne wafers or tomato pie – and who knew using real cream in grits could be so life-changing?! (It was.)
My husband and I came to one of those make-or-break crossroads with our weight at the start of 2016. At the decision of changing our lifestyles and eating 100% paleo, I knew the cooking responsibilities would default to me.
I created an Instagram account for sharing recipes, showcasing meals I’d made, and holding myself accountable to exercise. I carefully curated my audience: Mostly paleo / ketogenic / real food eaters (even Crossfit enthusiasts! Are your eyes rolling yet?), with the exception of a handful of real life friends. With every “like” and comment, I felt more and more apart. I had built a community. I belonged. (Remember that solidarity of diet culture I mentioned?)
I logged in a month ago to discover I hadn’t posted anything since last October. After all, I didn’t have anything to post. I was no longer part of the paleo club. Actually, I didn’t carry any kind of club membership. I was going rogue. How do you make that ‘grammable?
Not that I cared. Or at least, I didn’t until they came in droves: an entire feed of before/after “success stories” and influencers with chiseled abs, all having the time of their lives. There was even a “motivational” fitness account whose latest post showed a graphic that said, “DO IT FOR THE ‘HOLY CRAP, YOU GOT HOT!'” What?! Because outwardly seeking approval and acceptance is the key to happiness?
I call BS.
I also call them unfollowed.
And in the midst of all this, I received a timely text from a dear, sweet friend:
I just want you to know how much I absolutely love you. How much I admire and adore you. For all your kindness, laughter, levity, courage, wit, strategy, and faithfulness. For all your generosity, fearlessness, and fortitude… Whatever day you’re having, any day, I hope you’ll hear my voice reminding you how stunning you are.
THIS is the community I want to build. THIS is the community where I belong.