Tova Leigh is a blogger who posts about parenting and her marriage, among other topics. Her popular Facebook page, My Thoughts About Stuff, boasts almost a half-million followers, and her Instagram account has a devoted fan base as well. Many of her followers love her for her candid and humorous takes on motherhood.
The U.K.-based actress, writer, and mother of three recently shared a selfie and attached a message about the importance of not altering one’s image due to societal pressures.
“I keep seeing ads for corsets everywhere. You know, the ones that suck your belly in and make your waist look tiny while also giving you constipation,” she began the post. “Well, let me tell you something: Last time I wore any type of corset was on my wedding day, exactly 8 years ago. I remember hiding behind a massive bush in the garden, and my mom loosening the damn thing because I could barely breathe.”
Leigh continued, “Sure, after that my boobs didn’t look as fab as they did when the day started, but I was actually able to eat the food I had paid for and do another amazing thing — it’s called sitting down.”
She finished the post by sending a defiant message to those encouraging conformity and body image ideals. “Unless it is officially the 17th century again, I’d like to ask whoever came up with the idea that women in 2017 need to look like Jessica Rabbit, to kindly shove their corsets up their ass and let me enjoy my mom tum in peace,” she wrote.
Her photo was met with almost 800 likes — and a number of comments praising the blogger for posting such a positive, healthy message.
However, after posting the image, Leigh began to feel some guilt—as it was edited and filtered. “The image turned out really nice — of course it helped that I added a pretty filter and the lighting was kind of good as well — not to mention the fact that I crossed out all the bits that I didn’t like,” she tells Yahoo Beauty. “After reading an article about how people and especially teenagers are depressed and feeling insecure about themselves — due to all the perfect images on Instagram — I started feeling like a fraud, but also that I had a responsibility to share the behind-the-scenes image.”
In a follow-up post, Leigh did just that and clued her followers in to the details behind her “perfect” selfie.
“Last week I shared the ‘perfect’ selfie on Instagram (see small image on the bottom left),” she wrote. “It got a whole lot of ‘likes,’ friends told me I was sexy and I even made it my new profile picture on Facebook,” she explained on the post. “Today I am sharing the ‘behind the scenes’ of that image.”
She explained that the photo she was now sharing was “how I actually looked when it was taken, without 20 attempts to get it right, without cropping out the bits I don’t like and without adding the ‘make me look pretty’ filter.”
On the unedited image, she wrote, “THIS IS REAL. In all my mum tum, cellulitis, granny pants and absolutely zero thigh gap glory! Not the perfect sexy body by some dictated standard, but imperfectly fabulous because it is real and it is mine.”
She added: “I wanted to share the behind-the-scenes selfie so that people would know that when they see a pretty image on Instagram it does not always represent what that moment looks like.”
Leigh hoped her followers would take away a pointed message from her unedited image. “Next time you see a ‘perfect’ image on IG or FB that makes you feel bad remember this: Social media is full of sh**. You are beautiful just the way you are. And there is nothing sexier than being real,” she wrote.
Leigh was amazed by the reaction she received to the unfiltered shot. “The reaction to the real image has been incredible,” she tells Yahoo Beauty. “I have received hundreds of messages from women all over the world thanking me for sharing this honest image. I am a mother of three girls and the whole idea of social media and how it is not real and does not really represent life really worries me for them.”
Her honest, unedited post, which she was hesitant to share at first, apparently inspired some of her followers.
“They have said to me that it has given them confidence and made them feel better about themselves,” Leigh says. “I’m really overwhelmed by it all, and I have to admit that sharing the behind-the-scenes selfie was not easy for me one bit. I am not used to taking pictures of myself half naked and sharing them with the world, but I’m very glad that I did it on this occasion.”
Using her blogging platform to encourage others to promote honesty and acceptance helped Leigh share the image and the words attached to it.
“I talk about body Image a lot on my blog and promoting a positive body Image is something that I am very passionate about,” she says. “We are all beautiful in different ways and I hope that this is one of the messages that people got out of seeing them behind the scenes.”
She continues: “My body is not perfect and I’m aware of that there are parts of it that I don’t like, but what was more amazing than anything was how people see beauty in the behind-the-scenes image. I think most of us—if we saw ourselves through somebody else’s eyes—would see the beauty in our selves.”
Read more from Yahoo Style + Beauty:
- ‘Curvy’ Soap Opera Actress Posts Amazing Message After Being Called ‘Fat’
- Woman’s Naked Selfie Is Reminder That ‘Beauty Is About What You See’
- Hannah Bronfman on Pre-Wedding Weight Loss: ‘It’s Ridiculous’