IMG Star Uses Social Media to Change Body Image Narrative

In a world where social media is the main character in the "comparison game," athletes like Carly McNatt are actively changing the narrative of body image and using social media to inspire their peers to do the same. 

"I'm not the same girl now as I was in this photo.." McNatt writes in an Instagram caption back in June. 

The photo paired with the lengthy caption features a young McNatt in an IMG Academy uniform during a season, that to the average viewer, ended in success. 

But behind the scenes, the Foot Locker All-American, was battling issues that ended her season with two back-to-back stress fractures and despite the success on paper, ended her freshman year in heart break.

This season, that's all changing. 

"You know I'm happy where I'm at right now...I decided I needed to gain 18-20 pounds to not get injured again. I'm starting fresh. I'm going to keep improving from here," McNatt said after a third place elite finish at the North Port Invitational this past weekend. 

After taking a full six months completely off, McNatt's mindset going into this season is a mindset of rebuilding. 

She's already proving the power and importance of fueling your body properly. The 2018 Florida state champion kicked off her cross country season with a 19:26 second place finish at Seffner Christian and followed it up with a 18:37 at North Port -- improving little by little, week by week. 

The biggest difference for McNatt this season? She's learning to fall in love with the journey of running. And with that journey she's understanding that it comes with battles ahead. Instead of fighting those battles alone, the IMG star is using this as an opportunity and platform to encourage others to do the same.

"I have to admit that my confidence is way low right now, but I know I can get through this and I want to encourage others that are going through adversity to keep fighting," she diaries. 

The reality of the sport of running is that there are convoluted ideas surrounding body image and fueling. With that comes the pressure to obsess about the little things that can in turn fuel a mindset that purposely under-fuels the body in order to see "success." 

It's not easy to recognize these issues, let alone be vulnerable with the entire world through social media about it. But, McNatt is using this platform to encourage those in similar positions. 

"I just want to remind everyone to remember how blessed you are to be able to run...stay determined, fearless, and put all of your worries aside. Know that there is more to life than your sport, passion, or hobby." 

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