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(Photo: Hannah Hart)
This interview is part of Yahoo Health’s Body-Peace Profiles series, in which we talk with our favorite celebrities about embracing body positivity and healthy habits.
Maybe you’ve only seen 29-year-old Hannah Hart in ads for YouTube, posted online, in New York subways, and on billboards countrywide, her head adorned with a pasta colander. But if you’re a YouTuber in any way, shape, or form, you’re probably familiar with her award-winning series My Drunk Kitchen, which features videos of Hart cooking up meals while — you guessed it — pounding drinks.
But while other YouTube stars hone in on their specialty (creating makeup lines to accompany makeup channels, for example), Hart’s been on a mission of sorts. She’s chatted with President Obama and filmed a controversial video on the Affordable Care Act. She’s started filming videos that veer away from food, covering everything from insecurities to going to the gym. Mental health and body positivity isn’t her main shtick, but that’s what makes her videos on the topics all the more powerful for her 2.4 million followers.
Yahoo Health got the chance to talk with Hart about feeling at peace in her body, and more. Check out the conversation below:
Yahoo Health: Have you ever struggled with body confidence?
Hannah Hart: When I was younger, I was really insecure about body hair. I’ve got fair skin, and people would be like, “Oh, you should go wax,” and give me all this advice. But not all the advice really works for everybody. So one [struggle I had] was feeling comfortable taking care of body hair in a way that works for me, getting rid of the stigma of wanting to talk about it.
And the other instance [I struggled with body confidence] was, as a lesbian, having sex with other women, being like, “Wow, you’re so hot!” I’m definitely somebody who feels confident with verbal affirmations with my partner, and that’s something that I had to learn about myself. As much as I’d love to say, like, “Just say more positive things to yourself!,” it’s also OK to say, “I have a need!” Because I need my partner to verbally reassure me sometimes, and that’s OK. It’s OK to have that need, and it’s OK to vocalize it. I think we convince ourselves that we need to be totally singular without the support of anyone else, but sometimes it’s OK to say, “Babe, tell me I look good.” I think I can say that with confidence because I’m working on loving myself and being confident, and obviously those are massive pieces of the equation, but it’s also OK to know that you need your partner to say things or do things.
I’m not saying to only seek outside support — rather, surround yourself with people who are kind. I’m not fishing for compliments. If I think I look amazing, I’m going to be like, “I look great!” Just don’t ignore the fact that the way people talk to us has an effect on the way we feel.
What about with YouTube or social media comments — do those affect you?
You can only take the good, you can’t take the bad. With the comment section, you get an outpouring of positivity and positive comments, and it’s really lovely in that it’s so motivating. But that one negative comment usually has nothing to do with your channel, it’s just someone spouting negativity. But sometimes, if they’re like, “I don’t know, I feel like Hannah really rushed that one,” and they’re right, I’ll be like, “You’re right, I did rush that one.” But 9 times out of 10, if someone is spouting negativity, it’s them projecting, trying to find power in the wrong place. You just have to brush that dirt off your shoulder.
You’ve talked about how you recently started going to the gym — why?
As an adult, I’m trying to shake that fear of being like, I don’t have the right clothes, or the right shoes. It was the lack of confidence that was holding me back. And now I don’t care.
What’s your routine now?
I will stretch for 10 to 15 minutes. I started stretching at home, and now I do it at the gym. I get there, I stretch, and I’ll do 30 to 40 minutes on the elliptical. I’ll do one of the program things, because an elliptical is something you can’t just get on and use, like you can with a treadmill. You have to use the instructions on the elliptical to get an actual workout. I go and I use one of the little instructional courses on the machine.
Now that you’re going to the gym, do you notice any connection between working out and your mood?
I would say that every time I go work out, I’m proud of myself. And I have a lot of negative self-talk, so on the days that I do it, I’m not yelling at myself as much in my head. I feel proud of myself, and that’s worth more than the physical impact on my body.
I think it’s superimportant, if you work in an office environment, to go out and take a walk. It’s not like you’re slacking off, you need to move your body so you’re not miserable. It’s the most natural thing in the world, but for some reason, in the work environment, we don’t allow ourselves or each other to go outside and walk around the block for 10 minutes. What’s better — to spend an hour on BuzzFeed, or in your slumpy place, or allow yourself to go outside? We just gotta start changing our culture, man. We have to talk to people in office environments and be like, “Hi, boss, I would like to propose that it’s OK to go take a walk.”
Do you see a connection between what you eat and how you feel, too?
Oh, yeah. The other day I got so drunk, I ate Taco Bell for the first time in forever and I was miserable. The next day I just felt like s**t. I felt like s**t about myself, I felt like s**t about the food, I just felt like s**t. I’m a big believer in the foods we eat having a direct correlation with the way our body is, and it’s funny because we think of our bodies like houses, and they’re organisms. If you’re not giving yourself any nutrients, you’re not going to elevate your energy levels.
Having a show like My Drunk Kitchen, people really don’t think that — I’m kind of like one of those annoying food people, to be honest. But I’m annoying in a fun way! I’m a real big believer in ingredients. Instead of Taco Bell, let’s make a burrito — there’s nothing wrong with a burrito! Just maybe not a frozen, refried lard burrito.
What are your favorite foods that are healthy but still fun?
Love black beans. I’m a big fan of nut butters in general. I love cheese, I love eggs. Brown rice is one of my favorite foods, I just love rice in general. And then, believe it or not, pasta can be actually good for you, if it’s good pasta. In the same way there’s a difference between Ezekiel sprouted grain bread and white bread, you can have nutrient-rich pasta.
I know you said you look to your partner or your friends for outside support — what do you do if you’re on your own?
I need to work on this department more. I haven’t gotten much further than just telling myself, stop. If I start to think negatively about how I look, I say stop, you’re done, that’s it, and just literally stop myself. Just letting go of negativity about the way I look. Stopping is step one.
What do you do to turn a crappy day around?
I create a list that’s not a “to do” list but a “to done” list. Instead of writing things down and then checking them off later, write things down after you do them, like “get out of bed.” After it’s done, you write down, “go for a walk.” And it kind of encourages you to want to put more things on the list, so you want to do more things to get them done, so once you’re up and active and moving, you can get out of a funk. It’s so satisfying.
No matter what, just keep trying. It doesn’t matter how slowly you go, don’t stop.
Body-Peace Resolution is Yahoo Health’s January initiative to motivate you to pursue wellness goals that are not vanity-driven, but that strive for more meaningful outcomes. We’re talking strength, mental fitness, self-acceptance — true and total body peace. Our big hope: This month of resolutions will inspire a body-peace revolution. Want to join us? Start by sharing your own body-positive moments on social media using the hashtag #bodypeaceresolution.