Being on GOMI Prompted This Confession

I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled running posts tomorrow!

As more and more traffic pours in from the Get Off My Internets (GOMI) forum, I thought I would just say hey there, hamcats, thanks for dropping in.

I’ve been a long-time lurker in the GOMI forums, a place where blog readers gather to offer (mostly) constructive criticism to popular bloggers. Sometimes the comments are mean spirited but usually they are not, or at least not in the threads that I lurk in.

I’m not a popular enough blogger to have my own GOMI thread, but I recently had a post of mine linked to from someone else’s thread. The thread is a private one, so if you go searching for me you’re not likely to find the mention unless you actually read up on that blogger. I only found it because I was able to locate the URL to the exact thread in my Google Analytics account. I would have eventually stumbled upon it anyway because it’s a thread that I fairly frequently check in on. (Note: it’s NOT a run blog thread.)

I’m not sure I ever wanted to be on GOMI, but I always thought if I was it would be so interesting to see what people dislike about me or my blogging style. The reality is when I saw getoffmyinternets.com was sending traffic to my site my heart dropped into my stomach! Before I realized that a post of mine had simply been linked to in someone else’s thread I actually got really nervous about what people could be saying.

Eventually I woman’d up and looked at the thread. I saw that my link was dropped in a thread but at that time no one really commented anything about it. Relief washed over me, and I vowed to not look at the thread again. If people are saying anything about me now I am blissfully ignorant… which is the opposite of how I thought I would react to a GOMI mention!

I know why I was so nervous about the GOMI mention and I’m going to share that with you today. First I want to say I’ve been really lucky to find a very supportive online community here at Kristina Running, and I do try to take reader feedback into consideration. Whenever I receive emails or comments from people who gently point out that I’ve omitted some information that would be helpful to share I have tried my best to fix the situation. In most cases I’ve gone on to amend my posts or I’ve responded with more information privately if the information was left out on purpose. I’m a pretty open book.

I do have a confession to make today though, and this is why I was scared of GOMI. There was one time that I photoshopped myself thinner in a picture. I felt so guilty about it afterwards that I’ll never do it again. It was a moment of weakness. As someone who publishes hundreds of photos of myself online, I realized how incredibly stupid it was to photoshop one picture. If I was going to photoshop myself I should do it in all the photos or none of them! I opted for none of them because I really think a blog like mine is some place that readers have come to expect authenticity.

There are other blogs that have made the jump from ‘personal journal’ to ‘magazine style’ and I think it’s sort of expected that many of those bloggers photoshop their images. Their blogs have really become the digital versions of print magazines, albeit with (usually) a bit more personality injected into them.

On GOMI the hamcats (how the forum participants refer to themselves) often talk about “impressionable young girls” who might not realize that these bloggers photoshop because the expectation is that bloggers just don’t do that. The theory is that photoshopped images lead readers to have unrealistic body image expectations that can spiral into eating disorders.

I understand that line of thinking because as a young girl I didn’t know that photos in magazines were altered. I assumed all the models and celebrities looked more or less like they did in the glossy pages and I wondered why I couldn’t look like that too. I had a thinspiration book with cut out images from magazines very, very early on in my life – before I was even a teenager.

Yes, I developed an eating disorder that made my life pretty miserable, but I don’t think the magazines made me do it.

To say that a magazine or a blogger is the reason why I developed an eating disorder discredits the seriousness of the disease. Eating disorders usually develop because of other psychological and emotional problems, not because Katy Perry is photoshopped on the cover of Cosmo magazine.

Sure, I think celebrities and popular bloggers (modern day celebrities, I suppose) can perpetuate the ED problem. When I was really messed up I was obsessed with Nicole Richie who also happened to have hit her lowest weight at the same time I did. We both fit into kids clothing – how cool! Nicole motivated me to continue losing weight, to continue purging, to continue on the same twisted path, but she wasn’t the reason why I had an eating disorder. It wasn’t until I got older and the cultural impact of mass media mixed together with a bunch of other factors that I could actually commit to starvation and then binge/purge.

Even if you consider that Nicole motivated me to continue down the rabbit hole, she alone was not enough to make me starve myself for an extended period of time. She doesn’t get that much credit. According to the Academy for Eating Disorders “the behaviors of restricting food intake, binging and purging have been shown to alter brain structure, metabolism and neurochemistry in ways that make it difficult for individuals to discontinue the behaviors.”

I remember as a kid thinking, “I’m only going to eat vegetables for however long it takes me to look like the magazines” and I didn’t even make it through one day. Of course, now I see that as a pre-pubescent 10 year old I couldn’t have looked like the 15 – 20 year olds in the magazines no matter how hard I tried, but that’s a different story.

To be fair, the National Eating Disorder Collaboration includes socio-cultural influences as having a role in the development of eating disorders. However, like most other health conditions, other factors play a role in the development of the disorder. For instance, being overweight is a major risk factor for having a heart attack, but it’s not the only factor at play.

Other factors that contribute to eating disorders include:

  • Genetics
  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression/anxiety
  • Difficulty expressing emotions/feelings
  • Being prone to extremes such as ‘black and white’ thinking
  • Biochemical imbalance in the brain
  • Troubled interpersonal relationships
  • History of sexual or physical abuse
  • History of being bullied
  • Pressure to achieve/succeed/be perfect

I suppose it would be very easy to project my story onto others. To assume because the media I consumed wasn’t the core reason I developed an eating disorder that it can’t be that way for someone else.

I’m not a psychologist so I don’t have all the answers. I do know that seeing commercials for McDonald’s doesn’t by itself make you obese, and I don’t think photoshopped pictures on a blog can make you starve yourself for a prolonged period or binge/purge regularly. If you’ve ever been caught in a b/p cycle you would just KNOW that no amount of pictures can make you do it. Purging is fucking awful and after a while every fiber of your body begs you not to do it, but your brain runs the show in the end. Only a deep rooted disdain for oneself could make a person do it. It takes real professional help to break the cycle.

Anyway, I have digressed for way to long in this post! Circling back to my original thought: I once photoshopped a picture on this blog and I felt really guilty about it.

That guilt poured over and I figured GOMI was calling me out for the picture, but that wasn’t the case at all. The truth is, I barely photoshopped the picture and only my readers who are graphic designers probably noticed (since I’m not skilled at photoshop).

All of this is just to say that I feel relief confessing my photoshop sin and I thank GOMI for prompting me to finally do it. I removed the picture and now my life is a million times better! 🙂 I truly believe readers come here for authenticity. If you didn’t want that there are a million other more entertaining or motivational blogs you could read, but instead many of you come back each day.

One thing that keeps me blogging (aside from being a know-it-all who likes to put her opinion on the Internet) is seeing that over 50% of my blog traffic comes from repeat visitors. As a blogger that is a really, really cool thing to see!

Ohhhhkay, I’ll stop being all dramatic and emotional now! I definitely didn’t mean for this post to be so long! If you made it this far thanks for sticking with me and thanks so much for checking in on my blog.

xo

19 comments

  1. Sam @ Grapefruit & Granola

    Kristina- I love your blog because you are authentic, honest and funny. Please don’t ever feel like you have to be anything other than yourself! I wouldn’t beat yourself up too much about photoshopping 1 picture either 🙂 sometimes I think about photoshopping my teeth to make them whiter, lol.
    Sam @ Grapefruit & Granola recently posted…Lately: SeptemberMy Profile

  2. Megan @ Meg Go Run

    I do come here for authenticity! Thank you for confessing your sin. I still love your blog. 🙂 I have made photos of me black and white to hide a breakout. If you see a black and white photo of me, that’s because you would run away screaming if it was in color. 🙂 I also do not post pictures that are unflattering- weather my stomach looks big or my arms look big… won’t post it. I know that is stupid as I am sure I am the only one who cares!!

    I agree that eating disorders just have to be caused by something in your brain. Because when I was suffering, it didn’t matter that logically I knew it was stupid. I still couldn’t stop!! I always wonder what “caused” mine. I never grew up feeling pressured to be perfect. I didn’t pick up any bad eating habits from my mom. We were normal kids who ate 3 square meals a day and played outside. I was never overweight as a child and leaned more toward the thin side simply due to genetics, because I did have a hearty appetite.

    There are two things I can think of. Addiction runs in my family and my brother is an alcoholic and has had a lot of drug issues too. Even though I never had those problems, I feel like eating disorders are definitely a different kind of addiction. Second, in college, I was VERY sad. I was so homesick. I didn’t have a lot of friends because I was weird and didn’t really fit in with anyone. I lived almost 4 hours from home and didn’t have a car so I could only go home when I could hitch a ride with someone, which was once a month if I was lucky. I am sure there are brain things involved too since lots of people get sad and it doesn’t manifest into an eating disorder…

    Thank you for this thought provoking post! I was jealous of Nicole Richie too lol. I didn’t want to be as skinny as her, but I thought if I was as skinny as her then I could eat a lot and get up to the weight I wanted to be.

    On a lighter note, I read GOMI once in awhile but I only read the snarky threads! Haha! I’m not big enough to be on there either, but I am TERRIFIED of what they would say about me.
    Megan @ Meg Go Run recently posted…Q & A: What My Husband Thinks of My RunningMy Profile

  3. Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine

    Thank you for sharing all of this! While I don’t think photoshopping one picture is a big deal at all, I am glad you felt better about getting if off your chest and taking it down.
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted…The Things I Won’t Run WithoutMy Profile

  4. cheryl

    Thanks for your honesty, Kristina. I read your blog for your true love of running, and the very authentic way you have been documenting your journey. I don’t have too many pictures of me on my blog for the same fears…I don’t think I have ever taken a good picture in my life, ESPECIALLY while running!!!
    cheryl recently posted…Yes, I am still here…My Profile

  5. Hanna @ TheMillennialNextDoor

    Wow, it took guts to confess this Kristina! Thanks for sharing! I totally wouldn’t judge you for ONE photoshopped picture. We’re all human, we all have weaknesses, none of us are perfect. But I’m glad this whole incident made you feel better by allowing you to get this off your chest!

    It does make me wonder where we draw the line for “authenticity” though. I mean, even if we’re not photoshopping, we’re using Instagram filters, cropping, using B&W to hide imperfections, even posing in a certain way and in certain light to make ourselves look more flattering.
    Hanna @ TheMillennialNextDoor recently posted…The ABCs of Autumn Running (HG Remix)My Profile

    1. Sam

      Yes, I was just thinking about how much we use filters, cropping, different angles, or just a million retakes of a photo, to get it to look a certain way. I miss old photos on disposable cameras because you couldn’t check before sharing, I mean you could rip it up if you wanted but at least we were a little more free to actually capture a moment or feeling instead of trying to frame something into what we feel other people want to see. All this being said, I love insta and will probably continue to take ridiculous selfies over and over.
      Sam recently posted…New Aerial Class!My Profile

      1. Hanna @ TheMillennialNextDoor

        Oh I’m all about the Insta! I think it’s just such an interesting question to ponder, if there really is such a thing as 100% authenticity in this day and age. Like, do filters/cropping mean you’re not authentic? Or is it okay because you’re simply trying to highlight good things and not hide bad ones? Oh, technology!
        Hanna @ TheMillennialNextDoor recently posted…The ABCs of Autumn Running (HG Remix)My Profile

        1. Kristina

          I suppose I tend to think in black and white terms. When it comes to pictures I think:

          authentic = it’s really you without any changes to your physical form.

          altered = you changed something about your physical form.

          Filters, angles, crops, etc. can make us look better but it’s still our true form in the picture. I can see how it’s murky water to be treading in though!

    2. Megan @ Meg Go Run

      I do black and white when I break out! But I also complain about breaking out once in awhile on my blog so at least I am not writing about having perfect skin or something. I would just be too mortified to post a horrid pic.
      Megan @ Meg Go Run recently posted…Q & A: What My Husband Thinks of My RunningMy Profile

      1. Hanna @ TheMillennialNextDoor

        LOL if I’m that broken out I usually just don’t even take a selfie! Even before I post it I just can’t look at the grossness. I hate zits!!!!!
        Hanna @ TheMillennialNextDoor recently posted…The ABCs of Autumn Running (HG Remix)My Profile

        1. Megan @ Meg Go Run

          Me too! it is bad right now. Make up helps and I can still sometimes get a good pic. 🙂
          Megan @ Meg Go Run recently posted…Q & A: What My Husband Thinks of My RunningMy Profile

  6. Sam

    Thanks for sharing Kristina! GOMI freaks me out a little bit, it seems like recaps of other blog recaps + where’s waldo and I Spy. I have enjoyed reading your blog lately and one of the reasons is your authentic voice.
    Sam recently posted…New Aerial Class!My Profile

    1. Kristina

      Hey Sam, I know exactly what you’re talking about. There was a thread I read for a little while but then it got super weird. Way too much Where’s Waldo and I Spy going on!

  7. Ali @ Hit the Ground Running

    I saw the mention on GOMI and clicked the link…then realized that post of yours links back to my blog. I had the same stomach-drop feeling.

    I wondered briefly how GOMI might see us. They rarely waste time on smaller blogs, especially if the bloggers are genuine. I think you’re definitely genuine. You don’t give off any desperate-for-attention vibes! And you’ve done something here most GOMI threaders don’t…you owned up to a past mistake and honestly reflected back on it. This is just one example of why I love your blog, and why I think you’d be safe on GOMI!
    Ali @ Hit the Ground Running recently posted…Mindless vs. Mindful RunningMy Profile

  8. Annette @ Sweating Through Life

    I love your blog and don’t think you should try to be anything but yourself. I love your honesty and ability to talk so openly about things. Keep it going!
    Annette @ Sweating Through Life recently posted…MVP Half Marathon – Race RecapMy Profile

  9. Helly

    I’ve never photo shopped but heeelllooo Instagram filters! LOL

    You are awesome and authenticity is WHY I keep coming back to your blog.
    Helly recently posted…Chicago Marathon Training: Week 15 RecapMy Profile

  10. Karen

    I will probably read this post several more times and wish I would have commented more than what I am going to say. First, photoshopping forgotten about! I have cropped a picture to take out unflattering crap…usually my tummy, and I am guilty of whitening my teeth at least once. It was a close up…then I went and got crest strips. I thought I was the only GOMI lurker- I think the only thing I have seen is snarky, I always wonder if Janae ever reads it-poor girl. I have only seen reference to someone I consider a friend once, most of the folks I don’t actually read.
    Eating disorders, yes awful addiction and something does just take over for sure. Since I am old, my skinny favorite was Princess Di and Farrah Fawcett and while not responsible for my issues, I think when you are stuck in that mode there is someone you unrealistically wish you could be like. I think you are a beautiful strong person and I am just so glad you have together while you are still young and have lots and lots of healthy years ahead.
    Karen recently posted…Still TrainingMy Profile

    1. Kristina

      Thanks so much Karen!

      I’ve looked through the HRG thread before but haven’t in a really long time. I like Janae a lot. Even though we don’t have a lot in common, I find her whole situation really interesting and endearing. She’s obviously a really talented runner and a loving mom. I really don’t get what there is to snark about her that isn’t nit picky.

      There are really only 2 threads I check in on often and they are both ‘lifestyle” bloggers!
      Kristina recently posted…Curious CatMy Profile

  11. Karen

    So glad you have it together…
    Karen recently posted…Still TrainingMy Profile

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