To be a woman means to have your body scrutinized, and, all too often, criticized, by strangers. And celebrities who are constantly in the public eye experience this policing of their appearances and weight at a heightened, near-constant level that many of us could hardly begin to imagine. The whole situation is toxic for everyone from preteen girls trying to learn how to love (or starting to hate) their bodies to the stars themselves. That's why Modern Family actress Sarah Hyland's tweets about her body image and health are essential reads for the both her fans young and old and the internet bullies who have berated her for being too thin. Because making comments about another person's appearance is never appropriate.
In the lengthy note to her 1.5 million Twitter followers — which she typed out in her Notes apps, screenshotted, and attached to two tweets — Hyland shared that she wanted to address the flood of Instagram comments about her weight to let young girls know that she is not, in fact, a proponent of anorexia. Because that, apparently, was an overwhelming reaction to a photo of herself she recently posted to the image-sharing site wearing apparel to help raise money for (ironically enough) the Anti-Bullying Alliance.
But on Wednesday, the 26-year-old set out to clarify that she doesn't have an eating disorder; instead, she's been on bed rest for the past few months because of a situation that, she wrote, "put me in a place where I'm not in control of what my body looks like." She also is not permitted to work out for the time being, which has caused her to lose muscle mass. She did not disclose specifics of why, but People magazine reported that kidney dysplasia forced Hyland to have a kidney transplant in 2012.
And even though Hyland opted not to focus on her own medical problems, she wrote extensively about why it's 100 percent not OK for people to go after for about her weight — namely, because of the negative effects it can have on young girls:
Young girls are reading posts that are saying that I'm promoting anorexia due to my weight. While these comments don’t affect me, they may affect others. So I’m here to say that not one should aim to be the weight that I am at right now. I am working hard to maintain my weight by eating as much protein as possible and continue to be STRONG and healthy.
My self confidence is not rendered from your comments. Because I will always be too fat. I will always be too skinny. I will never have enough curves to be called a woman. And I will always be a slut for wearing a push up bra. Love the you you set out to be. Be the best version of yourself. Be healthy.
In the tweets, Hyland emphasized that she values being strong over making herself as small as possible, an excellent reminder for all women. In a world where girls and women can never quite measure up, it's crucial to remember our strength, both mental and physical. Hyland just proved she's the embodiment of strength.