Anna Victoria's millions of Instagram followers have earned her a top spot in the fitness-sphere. While she might be known for her killer Fit Body Guide workouts and her mouthwatering smoothie bowls, it's her candidness on social media that keeps everyone coming back for more.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to share this or not. Instantly I could imagine the comments, “You lost your butt... Your boobs got smaller... I prefer the left”. Those comments will come, I know. But what if I love my booty just as much now as then? What if I’m actually happy to lose some boobage? And what if your preference of left vs. right makes zero difference in what I decide to do or how I see my body..? . We need to not look to others for approval of our own bodies. Nothing wrong with wanting to look good, but we need to seek approval first and foremost from ourselves. I love the left AND I love the right. Only difference between the two is I’ve been going after performance related goals in these last few months after having had been in a rut (ie: improving endurance and increasing strength) which does reflect itself physically via a leaner, more toned body. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t happy with myself before. . Why do before and afters have to be about liking one and disliking the other? Why can’t we appreciate our bodies in both but be proud of the mental, emotional, and physical strength gained in the time between these two photos? And FYI: No, I didn’t starve myself to achieve this progress. No, I didn’t slave away for hours at the gym. And I don’t hate the before. I loved every bit of those extra curves! just as I love my curves now, no matter how big or small. . What you look like should not set the standard for how much you love yourself. Love yourself now. Love yourself during. And love yourself until the end of time. Because actually, we don’t have that much time. So stop wasting it comparing, hating, bashing. Kick ass in the gym and fuel/nourish your body because it feels good, not to punish yourself. Fall in love with who you are and who you become when you see just how amazing you actually are and always have been. Before and after. #fitbodyguide www.annavictoria.com/guides
The body-positive role model has been refreshingly honest about her stomach rolls, sharing exactly what goes into those "perfect" fitness blogger pictures. And she has explained why she doesn't care that she gained weight. But even though she's all about spreading body love, she isn't immune to haters.
"Recently I've received a few negative comments in particular about my progress photos," Victoria tells Shape as part of the #MindYourOwnShape campaign.
One Instagram user took to the comments section of Instagram saying: "She looks nice and toned on the right but at what cost? Her chest has shrunk a whole cup size, maybe two. I really prefer women to stay less toned and curvier."
Another commenter wrote: "I prefer less muscle like you had before. It's just more feminine, but that's just my opinion." One even said: "No hips. Not sexy." (Insert eye-roll here.)
Each comment was equally hurtful, but the one about not having hips really struck a nerve: "The comment about not having hips as not being sexy is saddening," she says. "It's not right for people to project their own preferences on other people's body type, especially when we can't change some things. I can't change my hip bone structure, and even if I could, I wouldn't. I'm proud of my body for what it is, for what it can do and how far I can push it."
My 3 month FBG Progress as promised! I tried finding the most similar photos possible... not always the easiest thing to do I clearly am more tan in the after photo which helps muscle definition, and my pose is slightly different, but nonetheless there is a 3.4% body fat difference between these photos and I worked HARD to get here. I strictly followed my FBG Guides (of course!) I wouldn't recommend them to you girls unless it was something I would follow myself! I also want to point out I see nothing wrong with the "before" photo (I feel silly calling it that) I simply wanted to step my game up and see where it took me. There were many struggles in these 3 months but let me tell you, the struggle is worth it. In the moment you may hate it, but once you go where you never thought you could before, it gives a whole new meaning to the word 'strength'. Not just physical strength, but mental and emotional strength, too. I love the before AND the after just the same and my self-worth hasn't changed one bit. But that feeling of struggling, pushing past that struggle, and persevering is something no one can hand to you and that makes it all the more empowering and worthwhile. Remember, if I can do it, you can too. #fitbodyguide www.annavictoria.com/guides
Unfortunately, Victoria isn't alone when it comes to this kind of body shaming. Women's bodies are the subject of constant criticism, especially on social media.
Take Kira Stokes, for example. The trainer behind our 30-day plank challenge has been told innumerable times that her toned physique "isn't feminine" and that she should put on some weight. Yogi Heidi Kristoffer, on the other hand, was told she looked like a "beached whale" after we posted a video of her doing prenatal yoga.
Having been in these women's shoes, Victoria has a message for all the body-shamers out there: Her fitness journey is exactly that—her own—and it really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about her body.
"I'm not doing this, working hard, eating healthy, pushing myself to be the best that I can be, for them," she says. "How someone else feels about my body as I go through my fitness journey is irrelevant. Their comments might be annoying, sure, but no amount of outside opinions about my body is going to change what I decided to do on my fitness journey."
At the end of the day, beauty isn't "one size fits all" and Victoria wants us to remember that each person defines it differently. "There's no one standard of beauty and it's ignorant to think that their view of someone else's body is more valuable than that individual's own opinions," she says.
To women who've dealt with this kind of negativity, Victoria says: "I would encourage other women who've been body-shamed to remember that they are the only person whose opinion matters and that we define our own standard of beauty. To quote Dita Von Teese, 'You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches.'"
#MindYourOwnShape shows the REAL effects of body-shaming and encourages women to stand together against body-shamers. Because loving your body should never mean hating on someone else's.