Sailor Brinkley Cook speaks about shame, body dysmorphia & eating disorders

Sailor Brinkley Cook is 21 years old, part of that youth generation which grew up entirely on the internet and in the middle of the social media revolution. But what strikes me, sometimes, is that the bullsh-t of life is the same for every generation. I’m two decades older than Sailor, but I can remember feeling exactly the way she described when I was a teenager – ashamed of my imperfect body, sick at the thought of not looking beautiful or perfect or whatever. I compared myself to the girls in magazines. Sailor compares her body to the Instagram models. It’s all the same. This is what she posted:

I’m so f–king sick and tired of the photoshop… I’ve been so down on myself recently. Crying about my cellulite, letting the fat on my body ruin my day, getting mad that i’m not as skinny as i once was. The body dysmorphia and left over eating disorder tendencies have been coming in strong. As i come into myself as a young woman my body shifts and changes by the month, the “control” i felt i once had over it has been completely stripped away from me. Hormones, emotions, growing pains.

I go on instagram and scroll through photos of girls that look “perfect”.. shiny skin with not a bump to be seen, tiny little waist and thighs that look like chopsticks. And i compare myself, as if how someone on an app on my phone looks should directly correlate to how I feel about my body? What I’ve learned is that I run every day. I go to the gym 6 times a week. I fuel my body with beautiful food.

I am so f–king LUCKY to have two legs and a healthy body that takes me through life. I’m so tired of thinking anything that makes up ME is something to be ashamed of. So as most 21st century girls would do, I’m putting this out there on instagram. Declaring that I have cellulite, and a stomach that doesn’t always look “pleasant” (whatever the f-ck that means) and I am 100% imperfect human. And I’m proud as hell of my body! If you’re out there hating on yourself, stop!! Appreciate yourself. You’re body is so magical. That’s all. Have a nice day.

[From Sailor’s Instagram]

It’s so hard to fight through body dysmorphia. It’s so hard to sit back and be self-aware of the shame spiral you’re on about your body. And there really is no answer other than doing the work in therapy and just learning to accept your body, flaws and all. Of course, I can’t help but notice that Sailor actually is the “ideal”: blonde, thin, tall, beautiful. Even young, beautiful women feel like their body isn’t enough. It just… sucks. The only thing I can say is that once your hormones calm down a bit in your 20s, you do stop comparing yourself to whatever impossible standard is being idealized at the moment. But even then, I still shame-spiral at my age too. Ladies, let’s give ourselves a break.

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Photos courtesy of WENN, Instagram.

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14 Responses to “Sailor Brinkley Cook speaks about shame, body dysmorphia & eating disorders”

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  1. CROWHOOD says:

    BDD is so difficult and also, I find people use it like they say migraines for bad headaches. I truly suffer from seeing something different in the mirror that exists. It’s taken nearly ten years with my husband for him to get it. We actually used a full length mirror one time and i wrote on the mirror where my body was and he was shocked because i visually see more body than actually exists.

    I just wanted to say this all before everybody starts with the “but Shes so pretty”

    • me says:

      It’s not you who sees your image in the mirror. It sounds insane I know, but let go that “you” are the one looking, and play detective with your own mind, trying to catch who might be there ( hint: probably a former authority figure character that is copied in your mind) looking at you from your own mind. You can even ask, it might surprise you what you answer. Then go further and try to catch what program that person had in their own mind, why would they project a distorted image of you. It might be even a fun game and takes the focus from trying to prove to people that you see a distortion. That is not the point since clearly you don’t lie. Why you see the distortion is the question. Sorry for the intrusion, I am a professional and sometimes I can’t help it. Just ignore it if it’s not helpful.

  2. me says:

    In her case it’s most probably a chronic “motheritis” syndrome that takes the shape of mental perceiving of “something wrong” with the body, since her mother has a case of the opposite problem, persistent perceiving of “something right” with her body. She is overly confident in her body and always smiling, while her daughter feels under confident and does not smile. Perfect symmetry. There’s nothing like your own children to expose your narcissism.

    • Kate says:


    • Jess says:

      That’s a huge leap to blame her mother and as far as I know there’s no evidence to support that, plenty of women suffer with the same disorder and they don’t have supermodel moms. Plus why jump straight to blaming the mom, what about her dad?! He only dates 20 year old blondes, why isn’t it his fault too?!

    • AppleTartin says:

      WTF not one sentence of her post mentions her Mother. She isn’t comparing herself to her Mother or competing with her. From all accounts Christie has been nothing but a good loving Mother and had to deal with that POS husband cheating on her with teenagers. She had her own shit to go through. Holding your head up high while being publicly humiliated isn’t narcissism. It’s being a strong woman handling her shit. I wouldn’t want to be 21 now and on constant display with social media. I wouldn’t have survived it. She was being honest and it’s refreshing for a change. Not everyone wants to live a Kardashian life pretending everything is great and you are gorgeous 24/7 (side eye to the Khloe picture)

    • Devyn says:

      While I’m not wholly on board with the mother blame. I’m sure that could contribute in some way-even a little. She may not want to talk about it. Remember when Ashley Graham got the cover of S.I.? Christy went off about how she wasn’t cover or model worthy because your waist should be no more than ‘this many’ inches and your hips shouldn’t exceed this many…. Sailor probably saw how her mother was so critical of another model, that she may have internalized some of it.

    • Mrs.Krabapple says:

      Was it the mother’s idea for her and two daughters (including Sailor) to pose in bikinis on the cover of Sports Illustrated? I suspect it was. Talk about creating body image problems for girls! I don’t know if this is a case of “humble bragging” (“I’m so insecure over my body, but see how great I look in a bikini!”) or if it’s case of a mother’s ego pushing her teenage daughter to do something she is not comfortable doing (posing in a bikini for a men’s magazine). Or possibly a complicated mixture of both.

  3. Rae says:

    I think this is a good example of why we shouldn’t assume that other people, who we might see in our eyes are the “ideal”, are going through their own gremlins. It also ties into the old cliché that there is always someone prettier, thinner and richer than you.

    It took me a long time to get a grip of my own negative body image and bulimia, arguably I still am and always will be dealing with it in some way or form, so I’ve always got time for people who need to vent to help with their battles. I’m doubly grateful I didn’t grow up with social media too. Even as a woman in my thirties, I still find myself looking at an Instagram picture and then wishing that certain body parts of mine were built different. I can give myself a shake now and move on, but I can only imagine how much this effects tweens and teens.

  4. LunaSF says:

    I’m so worried to have a daughter grow up with all this fake Instagram filtering all over the place. I grew up with magazines that were photoshopped to hell and back and felt bad about myself but the social media is so relentless for the younger girls! Everyday my goal is to raise a strong and confident daughter who knows it’s mostly fake bullshit and no human looks like these fake Insta girls.

  5. Amber says:

    I don’t know, I think for some of us this never fully goes away. I’m 27 and although like Sailor I conform to a lot of societal expectations–white, blonde, small dress size–I still have days where I feel ashamed of my body. With quarantine I’ve noticed some of my disordered eating habits springing back up again and I’m also quarantining with my mom who was the first person in my life who ever called me fat when I was twelve and that remark kind of set the whole thing off and for about a month in sixth grade I tried my best to stop eating. Restrictive patterns of eating have continued for me off and on throughout my life ever since. I’m afraid to eat or cook in front of my mom. And I’m also out of work, and having a job used to have some built-in accountability for me–when I took meal breaks, it was expected that I eat something, so I always did. It’s likely that having a supermodel for a mom has subconsciously influenced Sailor’s own body image. But of course the social media stuff just reinforces it all the time. Even though she is a child of privilege and is operating on the lowest difficulty setting, no one is immune to these pressures and I empathize with her.

  6. Nina says:

    I had suffered from an eating disorder from about the age of 14 until my early 30s. Even after I recovered, it was still there in the back of my mind, the internal self-judgment. I could see the beauty in other people’s imperfections but never my own. I finally got to a place when I could just enjoy being me and thankful for the body I possessed.

    Then perimenopause hit and it all went to hell again…


  7. Alyse says:

    I weighed myself today for the first time in memory (a couple of years?) because i was at the doctor. I’m 30. I used to be naturally very slim, and now i’m a nice average (curvy with small waist, a size Medium) with good days and bad. I don’t weigh myself anymore because I realised nothing good came from it, so instead I take a photo of myself every few months in same bikini, pose etc, and can tell if I need to cut down on portions a bit, but am never surprised by what I see (the photos are basically a confirmation of my habits lol!)
    I’ve never been heavier, but I’m at a stage where I don’t care about weight (it’s actually pretty meaningless). As long as my proportions feel good, and I feel healthy that’s the big difference these days. Sometimes I get down about my stomach or whatever. Other days I feel like Rihanna or Beyonce levels of hot :)
    I actually have a pretty good relationship with my body. But still a slightly complicated one…. like most people.
    Not sure what my point really is, except sharing, solidarity, and hoping you all feel good about yourselves xx