You can always count on Lili Reinhart to get real about personal topics, from body image to mental health. On stage at the 2018 Glamour Women of the Year Summit on Sunday, November 11, the Riverdale star opened up even more in a powerful speech.
Reinhart kicked off her remarks by discussing a recent struggle: Constantly seeing herself on social media and in paparazzi photos. “I became hyper-aware of my changing body,” she said. “I could see the difference in my shape in photos and wondered if anyone else was noticing. I felt this strange, constant struggle of having to live up to the expectation of the appearance that I had already established to the world.”
Those expectations were a looming—and unfair—stressor, coming from all angles. Media, she said, is often responsible for enforcing unrealistic ideals for young women like her. But, she added, it’s up to young women to start altering the narrative.
The 22-year-old said she wants the conversation around women’s bodies to change—not just for herself, but for generations to come. “I think about when I have kids in the future,” Reinhart said. “Will my daughter be self-conscious about gaining weight? Will she feel the need to explain her body or justify it to anyone as it changes? Will she feel that same need that I do now—to apologize to her peers and say ‘My body doesn’t usually look like this,’ or ‘I’m just a little heavier than usual right now?’ How utterly ridiculous is it that we even think about explaining the nature of our bodies to other people?”
Sometimes I feel like I look like shit. Sometimes I don’t want to talk to anyone. And I’m allowed to have those days. I’m not going to apologize for that.
Reinhart ended her speech asking the women in the audience to follow her lead: forget unrealistic standards and celebrate one another’s individual beauty. “Remind yourself that this perfect world you see online or in magazines… in movies and television… are presented to you through many different filters,” she said. “Do not set impossible goals of meeting those fake standards. It’s unrealistic to think that your body or my body will ever look like anyone else’s. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. We are all imperfectly beautiful.”
The Riverdale star has always been honest about her struggles with body image and mental health on her personal social media accounts. In the October issue of Glamour, she opened up about experiencing body dysmorphia relating to her acne. “I have a specific type of body dysmorphia that stems from acne. I see any acne on my face as an obsessive thing. [It’s] the only thing I can think about, and it makes me want to hide,” she said.
Like she reiterated in her speech, Reinhart’s not going to apologize for being exactly who she is anytime soon. “Sometimes I feel like I look like shit. Sometimes I don’t want to talk to anyone. And I’m allowed to have those days,” she told Glamour. “I’m not going to apologize for that.”
Find out more about Glamour‘s 2018 Women of the Year here.
Read the full transcript of Reinhart’s speech below.
“We exist in a world today where everything can be faked or fixed. Noses can be changed, and stomachs can be tightened, and cellulite can be lasered away, apparently. Because that’s what we are told to do, which is alter ourselves in order to be beautiful.
“For the past year… I’ve been quietly trying to navigate my fluctuating weight and I’ve faced criticism in the past for talking about my body image. People told me that I didn’t have the right to talk about being self-conscious about my body because I was skinny.
“And I understand how it seems inappropriate for someone who is average size to talk about problems with weight gain. But, my point is, I didn’t think anything was wrong with my body until I was in an industry that rewards and praises people for having a smaller waist than I will ever have. It felt unfair to think that I would never have an industry perfect body, just because I wasn’t genetically built a certain way. I was exposed to young women, smaller than I was, telling me that they needed to lose weight.
“So I became hyper-aware of my changing body. I could see the difference in my shape in photos and wondered if anyone else was noticing. I felt this strange, constant struggle of having to live up to the expectation of the appearance that I had already established to the world. So I found myself examining my body constantly in the mirror. Sometimes thinking…’Okay, like, I was being too hard on myself. Everything’s fine. I’m still the same size. Everything is fine.’”
“Only go back to the mirror a few hours later… and notice that my stomach looked completely different. So I was thinking, was my reflection lying to me? How can my body look so different over the course of one day and why do I feel like I need to apologize to the world for my ever-changing self? I didn’t want the world to think I was catfishing them with my appearance or making myself out to be a certain size and shape when clearly my body was changing.
“So I told myself… If I can see this change then other people can too. Reflections don’t lie. Or do they? And is that body dysmorphia? Or is this the normal part of being a woman that no one really talks about?
“I think about when I have kids in the future. And will my daughter be self-conscious about gaining weight? Will she feel the need to explain her body or justify it to anyone as it changes? Will she feel the same need that I do now— to apologize to her peers and say ‘My body doesn’t usually look like this,’ or ‘I’m just a little heavier than usual right now’? How utterly ridiculous is it that we even think about explaining the nature of our bodies to other people?
“But it’s because we don’t want them to judge us. Because judgment and criticism have always existed. It’s just that now, everyone can be a critic and can share it publicly and without hesitation, at the push of a button.
“I used to look at all the magazine covers near the checkout line at the grocery store when I was younger. And sometimes the cover would show a celebrity with the headline, ‘Here’s what she REALLY looks like!’ And I wanted to see, obviously. I wanted to see what was underneath and I wanted to see the flaws. Everyone wants to see the flaws of another person. Because we want to see glimpses of our own insecurities in them. We want to know that we aren’t the only ones.
“From a young age, we are unknowingly being trained by magazines, marketing, and all forms of media, into thinking that having cellulite or not wearing makeup is worthy of being publicly shamed. So there was no way in hell that as young women digesting this media, we weren’t all going to try and hide those parts of ourselves from then on. We aren’t born with these insecurities. We are told to be insecure about certain things. We are conditioned to feel ashamed or embarrassed about certain parts of ourselves.
“The world is not going to reform tomorrow. We can’t rely on those who profit from our perceived flaws to change their ways. There is no easy fix to the ideas of women that have existed for hundreds of years. So that leaves us with one option which is changing it ourselves. Showing what’s real with no filter and certainly with no shame.
“You are helping the movement of strong, modern women when you show the parts of yourself that we have been forever been told to hide. So as a first step, I encourage you to find a healthy balance between expressing the natural, vulnerable side of yourself with the glamorous, contoured side. As much as I like to share photos from shoots and red carpets I think it’s much more important to show what I look the other 99% of the time.
“Some days, I feel strong and confident. And some times, I’m sucked into the rabbit hole of awful comments, where strangers are criticizing parts of myself that I wasn’t even aware of.
“So how do I let every day, be one of those victorious days? Where I feel invincible? I don’t have the perfect solution. But I have discovered some things that help me have those better days. I started to purge myself of content that made me feel less beautiful on a daily basis. I unfollowed the accounts on Instagram that made me question the shape and curves of my own body.
“I also started living a more active lifestyle because I wanted to feel healthy on the inside, which required some thoughtful effort on my part. But I wanted to know that I was healthy and strong without having identical measurements to those other women that I’m seeing.
“Remind yourself that this perfect world you see online, in magazines, in movies and TV, are presented to you through many different filters. So do not set impossible goals of meeting those fake standards. It’s unrealistic to think that your body or my body will ever look like anyone else’s. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be.
“We are all imperfectly beautiful so let’s embrace that. And practice that in a healthy way. There is a massive, worldwide community of women who are rooting for beauty to be recognized in every shape and color that we come in. Events like this Glamour Summit are a part of that movement.
“So embracing your natural beauty, does not exclude anyone. There is no fine print. You can be naturally beautiful with acne or scars, cellulite or curves. So let’s celebrate each other, and ourselves, as we are, as we will be, and as we were meant to be. Unique. Imperfect. Beautiful. And so incredibly powerful.”
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