Sarah Sapora Reflects On Being Labeled "Most Cheerful" at Fat Camp When She Was 15
"It's normal to want to be liked," she shared. "But it's not healthy when our need to be liked trumps our own self-care."
You know Sarah Sapora as a self-love mentor who empowers others to feel comfortable and confident in their skin. But her enlightened sense of body inclusivity didn't come overnight. In a recent post on Instagram, she shared a certificate she received while attending fat camp back in 1994. She was voted "Most Cheerful", which might not seem like the worst thing, but Sapora explained why she has a huge problem with the label.
"At the age of 15, I already seemed to know that my social 'value' in the world would come from being energetic and pleasing to other people," she wrote alongside a photo of the certificate.
Fast-forward to today, and Sapora wonders how different her life could have been if she hadn't put so much effort into making others happy and had focused on herself instead. "I wonder how much more fierce I could have been as a young woman if I'd spent less time being 'cheerful' in order to please others and spent more time discovering what made me unique and unstoppable," she wrote.
"How much sooner would I have left an emotionally and sexually abusive relationship at 18 if I'd have been less concerned with having my boyfriend's approval and more concerned with MY OWN," she added. "How many years would I have spent proving my value to bosses who took ten miles when I gave a few inches? How would I have asserted my value and walked away from men who couldn't see it?" (Related: How Sarah Sapora Discovered Kundalini Yoga After Feeling Unwelcome In Other Classes)
It took years for Sapora to "wake up" and prioritize her happiness, and now she's encouraging others to do the same. "The way we do things and see the world as adults doesn't usually pop up overnight," she wrote. "It's a culmination of years and years of conditioning and behaviors that become so real to us that they subconsciously exist, like breathing."
Sapora ended her post with a powerful reminder to not lose yourself while constantly trying to please others. "It's normal to want to be liked," she shared. "But it's not healthy when our need to be liked trumps our own self-care. When we abandon serving ourselves in favor of others' approval again and again and again." (Related: What Every Woman Needs to Know About Self Esteem)
Today, Sapora is so over being the "most cheerful" person in the room and measures her worth in different ways. "25 years later and I want to give myself a new title: most resilient, most brave, most self-loving," she wrote.
Sapora says she's "working" toward these titles now—but her fans would argue she's already the embodiment of them. The activist has racked up over 150,000 followers on Instagram by opening up about her personal struggles and inspiring people to love themselves at any size. Whether she's helping people feel less intimidated by reformer Pilates or sharing her journey toward becoming a yoga teacher, Sapora has always led by example—and this time is no different.