In today’s world, we face a tremendous amount of pressure to conform to body standards. We are constantly bombarded with messages to ‘lose 10 pounds fast’ or ‘get in shape for bikini season.’ The implication of these messages is that we are not skinny enough, not in shape enough, and not sexy enough, as we are.
It can be challenging to navigate these ideals while honoring yourself and your unique body. No matter what your body looks like, you have probably experienced some form of self-scrutiny or questioned if you have the “right” body. You simply can’t avoid the matter in a body-conscious world.
Unfortunately, the body image conversation is often a silent one, between a woman and herself. It is generally considered taboo to voice the concerns you might have about your body and your relationship to food, especially as a woman entrepreneur or in a highly competitive workplace when you are being evaluated constantly.
Until now, that is.
One millennial is stepping up and giving a voice to the silent struggle billions of women know so well. She had a particularly rough journey with her body as a former TV actress–but now, she’s a women’s health coach and the youngest author at publisher Hay House, with her book, The Goddess Revolution, launching in June.
Meet Mel Wells, creator of The Green Goddess Life, who I spoke with on this week’s podcast episode, “The Anti- Diet: How To End The War On Your Body w/ Hay House’s Youngest Author Mel Wells.”
At age 18, Wells began her acting career and found herself immersed in a competitive environment that led her to make tough decisions. “When you’re in a world where you and your body is the difference between you getting the job and you not getting the job, you put immense amounts of pressure on yourself,” says Wells.
For her, this meant going on crash diets and, ultimately, developing body issues as she tried to stay employable. One time, her producer met with her to discuss her body size. Wells reflects, “I was completely overwhelmed and turned to using food to control elements or numb feelings.”
It took witnessing her dad get cancer to finally wake up to the reality of the damage she was doing to her body. Watching her dad fight for his health, Wells says she was confronted with the potential consequences for abusing her own body and resolved to become a health coach.
Through working with clients, she was able to heal herself and put together a method that works to resolve body issues, encourage healthy eating, and restore body freedom.
The Goddess Revolution seeks to take over as the new ‘anti-diet’ by sparking a new way of thinking that will help women end the war on their own bodies. By attacking modern issues like ‘fitspiration’ and the obsession with perfection caused by celebrity glorification and magazine airbrushing, Wells hopes to break the cycle of negative talk that keeps women from feeling fulfilled and fully self-expressed.
For any woman, it is important to learn to honor yourself by honoring the relationship you have with your body first. When you have that strong foundation established you can more easily stand up for yourself in the workplace and say ‘no’ to objectification and discrimination in your career based on your looks.
Relieving the pressure of body image starts by loving yourself. When you love yourself by loving what you are creating in the world, you can overcome any adversity.
At age 26, Wells has certainly made waves and evolved into her true self despite challenges. Consider these three powerful lessons for navigating your own path.
Lesson #1: Just go for it, even if you don’t feel completely ready yet. Wells says the best advice she ever got was to “start before you’re ready.” That means to summon the confidence to take action even if you don’t have everything figured out. Everyone makes mistakes, but they tend to be the best reflections for improvement.
Lesson #2: Use your personal story to your advantage. The lessons you have learned along your own journey are the best source for credibility and experience. People will connect to your story and want to work with you because they know you’ve been where they are and have overcome it. Don’t be afraid to share any mistakes you’ve made as they can actually testify to how far you’ve come and show people there’s hope no matter where you are.
Lesson #3: Don’t let your age stop you. When you’re young, it’s easy to perceive age to be a limiting factor to your success. Wells can empathize: “when anyone starts business in the coaching world it can be daunting to assume anyone wants your advice,” she says. But the notion that you’re not old enough to achieve what you want is simply false. Don’t apologize for your age; let your experience and results speak for how qualified you are. You never know, your young age may become your biggest asset someday.
This article was originally published on Forbes