Kortney Olson, the woman with the “world’s deadliest thighs,” isn’t afraid to show off her strength, or her cellulite.
Amid videos of her crushing watermelons and pumpkins between her legs, the Instagram star and founder of Grrrl Clothing, a sportswear company that embraces all body types and aims to empower women with its “Grrrl Army,” shared a photo embracing her cellulite.
“For someone who trains like a beast and earned the title ‘woman with the world’s deadliest thighs,’ from THE @therealstan Lee … I think it’s safe to say [cellulite] is part [of] being human,” the caption reads. “But because we’ve spent our entire life looking at ads that are airbrushed and ‘flawless,’ we’ve been programmed to think something is wrong with us when we’re ‘human.’ … Last week I forgot: Despite all of my efforts (not a drop of alcohol in over 7 years, training 5-6 days a week, eating clean), I still have days and even weeks, when I ‘dimple.’ … How can we do our best when we’re busy fearing we look our worst?”
Olson, like everybody, has poor body image days, but she hopes that by posting both sides of her body: both the perfectly posed and well-lit photos as well as the candid ones, and the subsequent negative emotions that these photos can drive in her. “We can have bad days. We can put on a few pounds, lose a few pounds, have cellulite, not have cellulite — It’s all normal and it’s all beautiful. We don’t have to be positive all the time, every day, and thinking negative thoughts is normal,” Olson tells Yahoo Beauty. “But because we’ve been so programmed by seeing airbrushed bodies in advertisements since birth, that undoing that programming from our subconscious takes a significant amount of work. … But just as something can be un-programmed from a computer (like old, outdated anti-virus software), so we can remove these old beliefs that to be beautiful we need to be ‘flawless.’”
Just how normal is cellulite, exactly? For one, approximately 90% of women have it. “Although both [estrogen and testosterone] are found in both sexes, men have little estrogen, hence why you will rarely, almost never see cellulite on a man’s body. Understanding where you are can be really important to understanding and acceptance,” Olson assures us.
She blames the lack of representation in mainstream media for creating the idea that cellulite isn’t the norm. “Brands such as Nike and Adidas will only use a size small model in their advertising. What that does to the self esteem of the other 95% of us is shocking,” Olson says. “A lot of women see their human normal traits and bodily functions as ‘flaws’, when in actuality, the only reason they’re seen as flaw and not normal, is because the cover of magazines and ads tell us so.”
To counter this, Grrrl Clothing only features unretouched images of fit women with close to average body sizes. She also encourages women to stop posting images of themselves using beauty filters that encourage an unrealistic standard of beauty.
Still, like most women, Olson is not immune to negative thoughts, but she has a battle plan to quiet their voices:
Olson recommends a “social media flush.” “Unfollow any fitspo accounts or women who use beauty apps and heavy filters,” she says, instead favoring women who promote a healthy lifestyle. “Look for hashtags like #bodypositive #bopo #reallife or my personal favorite, #grrrlarmy.”
Stop buying magazines that glorify an unrealistic standard of beauty. “When you have copious amounts of money, you can look young forever,” Olson says.
Take time to yourself and practice self-care.
Work to change your perspective. This is easier said than done, but Olson’s best tip is to “start looking at your body as an asset, and not a liability.” She likes to list the things she’s grateful for, being sure to maintain perspective about her abilities and the work that her body does for her.
“Most importantly, be of service: by helping other people, we fill that void of not being good enough,” Olson says.
Read more from Yahoo Beauty + Style: