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Athlete shows how deceptive Instagram poses can be in photos

A former Division 1 athlete is pointing out how deceptive social media photos can be by demonstrating how certain poses make her look more toned and hide her natural stomach rolls and bloating. 

Victoria Garrick, 23, from California, struggled with mental health and body image issues as she watched her lean frame grow more muscular after joining the University of Southern California women’s indoor volleyball team as a walk-on in 2015.  

After years of bing-eating and beating herself up over what she thought she should look like, she learned to love her body as a female athlete and has become an advocate for mental health and body-image awareness.  

Garrick, who has more than 175,000 Instagram followers, uses her platform to open up about her own struggles while sharing body-positive messages with her fans. 

In a recent post, she shared side-by-side photos of herself wearing a blue bikini before July 4th and the day after the holiday. In the first photo, her stomach is flat and dips in. She is noticeably bloated in the second, but she has a smile on her face.

‘I overate yesterday… what can I say,’ she wrote. ‘It was an awesome day, there was delicious food around, and I was enjoying everything.

‘Instead of restricting myself for the rest of the week, working out like crazy, or letting the guilt over take me, I’m gonna be compassionate with myself,’ she added. 

‘I’m glad I had a good time and enjoyed myself. Everybody emotionally eats and everybody gets bloated.’

The post was like nearly 50,000 times, and followers took to the comments to thank her for normalizing bloating and guilt-free eating. 

‘You are such a special person for showing girls that this is NORMAL and that it is okay to eat and enjoy without feeling guilty,’ one person wrote.

Another added: ‘This means SO MUCH to me and every other girl out there. I can’t say enough thank you’s for your posts.’

In another post, she shared two pictures of herself: one where she is sucking in her stomach and posing and another where she is hunched over and revealing her stomach rolls. 

‘Same girl, different pose,’ she wrote, adding: ‘P.S. the second one’s way more comfy.’ 

Garrick chronicles many of her personal victories on her Instagram page, whether she is showing off the cellulite on her thighs or wearing a top with an open back that shows her back rolls. 

‘Holding ourselves to a standard of outward perfection at all times is exhausting and also just unnatural. This is how I look when I sit comfortably, and I am comfortable with that because I am comfortable with my body,’ she wrote of her stomach rolls. 

‘When I look down and see my natural stomach, I just don’t get upset with myself like I used to. Sending love to all the natural tummies out there today, let them live.’

Last summer, Garrick shared old photos she had edited using the Facetune app and what they looked like before to show how far she has come with her self-image. 

‘I was SO obsessed with having a perfect body that I edited myself all of the time,’ she admitted. ‘I look at these now and can’t believe I didn’t like them, but in MY EYES I couldn’t see anything but the negatives. 

‘I thought every picture could ALWAYS be better, prettier, skinnier. I was never good enough. So with the touch of my fingers, I opened up an app and changed my body to be something I thought was “better.”‘

Garrick said she hasn’t edited a picture of herself since February 2017, noting she is no longer willing ‘to contribute to the narrative that perfect exists and we have to achieve it to be happy.’⠀⠀⠀

In 2017, she wrote about she learned to love her body as a female athlete in an essay that was published by Upworthy. 

She explained that when she committed to the USC women’s indoor volleyball team, she wasn’t prepared for how her body was going to change dramatically thanks to her grueling training sessions in which she would burn 1,300 calories each practice.  

The athlete went from being ‘lean’ with a ‘thigh gap’ to being ‘bigger’ and ‘muscular.’ She recalled crying in her dressing room after realizing jeans in her old size wouldn’t pull up past her thighs and the tops she tried on were too tight on her arms.    

‘I spent the rest of that year attempting different diets, avoiding certain outfits, and despising the athletic lifts I had to do every day in practice,’ she said. ‘For countless months, I was focusing on my body, trying to be skinnier, and trying to eat less than what my body required to perform.

‘However, after two semesters enduring this misery, I finally realized something that all female athletes must come to on their own: There is nothing wrong with my body.’

Once she realized her muscular body and strength was something to be proud of, her outlook changed, and she learned to love herself. 

‘Just because you are not a certain dress size or weigh more than 120 pounds does not mean you’re not beautiful. Just because your body needs to consume 4,000 calories a day does not mean you are fat,’ she wrote.

‘And, most importantly, girls who compete to win the national championship will not, and physically cannot, look the same as models clouding our Instagram feeds.’

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