Why I Started Growth Spurts (... and stopped posting about body positivity)
Welcome to a place on the internet for all things personal growth. The difference is you are also allowed to be human, and mess up just like everyone else.
If you prefer to listen to me reading this article, click on the voiceover above.
I’m Michelle Elman and thank you so much for subscribing to join me in this space where we are allowed to be human. A quick scroll on the internet and it’s easy to assume all your friendships are toxic, every guy you have ever dated is a narcissist, and you see red flags wherever you look and I would know… after all, I know the internet quite well. Cancel culture has trickled down to the individual level and as a result, we are not giving people the space to make mistakes, grow and be human. No human will ever be perfectly healed but if you have a one-strike policy with everyone else, how harshly will you judge yourself when you are the one that fucks up?
I’m what some people call an influencer and most people know my work because I went viral back in 2015 for sharing my personal story of having 15 surgeries before the age of 19 and the body image issues I struggled with as a result of the surgery scars. If you have been following my journey since then, you will also know a few years back, I made an abrupt change and all my content switched up and became about boundaries and personal development.
Well.. here’s the story I never told.
I stopped posting body positive content on the internet because it became limiting and disempowering. I was saying “you are not your body” everyday on the internet and yet, that’s all anyone ever wanted to talk to me about. I would tell people that “you are more than your trauma” and yet, every interview wanted me to divulge every detail of the worst moments of my life. It didn’t matter that I was a five-board accredited life coach. It didn’t matter that I had a brain. The moment it changed for me was when I was on a photoshoot where each person was shooting a different body part. Everyone was insecure about their arms, and being impatient and wanting everyone to hurry up, I said I would do it, just so we could get the shoot started.
“NO! YOU ARE SCARS” they said pointing at my stomach.
Not “you have scars” or even “you are shooting your scars”.
I AM SCARS.
That’s all I am. That’s all I ever will be.
After my first book came out, I had four manuscripts rejected. When you pitch a book, they want you to tell them why YOU specifically are the person to write this book and everytime I would hear back “you aren’t an expert in that, you are an expert in body positivity!”. With each rejection, I would be on the phone to my literary agent saying
“They do know I’m a five board accredited life coach, right?”
“They do know I have been qualified and working with people for 7 years!”
“They do know I am not just a body, I have a BRAIN, you know”
… and yet it was one slammed door in my face after another.
So I made a drastic shift in my content. I stopped showing my scars online. I stopped answering questions about what my surgeries were for and I declined any interview or photoshoot where I needed to be in a bikini. I wanted to talk about the only thing I have ever cared about: personal development.
I am so proud of the work I have done in the body positive space but what got me into it was the personal development aspect. It was teaching people how to improve their confidence, to make the most of the time they had on this planet and how hugely irrelevant what we look like is.
I also wanted to actually be part of the shift when it comes to personal development content online because what I was noticing was that it was all becoming so extreme. Between the words ‘toxic’ and ‘red flag’, we write people off too quickly in an attempt to bubblewrap ourselves against any hurt. We need to learn how to communicate, have the hard conversations and ultimately, do the more difficult thing of trying to work through our issues rather than just running away. At some point, the ‘strong independent woman’ mindset warped into hyper independence and now we feel shame if we have to ask for help. We cannot judge others so harshly when we are not perfect either.
And let’s state this from outset… I have fucked up more times than you have.
I am not embarrassed by this because that’s how we learn.
I only have so many boundaries today because I spent the first half of my life being a pushover.
I only have a healthy relationship now because my other relationship was an emotionally abusive one.
I only love myself because I wasted too much time hating myself.
As a heads-up, my coaching style is *quite* direct. We have no time to waste. Think of that friend who is sometimes a little too honest… that’s me but with the qualifications to back up what I’m saying! It’s so frustrating when someone preaches about loving yourself and all you want to do is scream “BUT HOW?”. The newsletter will always include the how. I’m known for my honest approach to dealing with life’s issues and Growth Spurts will be no different so if you are up for practical tips and a little bluntness delivered with compassion, you’ve come to the right place.
It’s not just learning to love the strongest part of you, it’s learning to love the clumsy part of yourself, the messy 2 am version of yourself, the part of you that can’t stop crying or the you that can’t finish a joke without ruining the punchline.
You and all your imperfections are SO SO welcome here.
I look forward to seeing you in your inbox every Wednesday (and if you are a paying member, twice a week!)
Lots of love,
Have you ever had a moment where you realised you are more than a body? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading Growth Spurts with Michelle Elman! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.