Sia Cooper of Diary of a Fit Mommy: “Why we should talk back to the media about our dissatisfaction with the focus on appearance and lack of size acceptance”
Talk back to the media. All media and messages are developed or constructed and are not reflections of reality. So shout back. Speak our dissatisfaction with the focus on appearance and lack of size acceptance.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Sia Cooper, aka @diaryofafitmommyofficial. Sia is a 30 year old Destin, FL mom who has made her way from being an underpaid/undervalued nurse to elevating her wellness message to more than 1.2 MILLION Instagram followers. She was named one TIME’s “25 Most Influential On The Internet” in 2018. Sia captivates and motivates audiences because of her real-talk fitness and nutrition advice. She’s the “fit mommy” but her advice is really geared at anyone feeling the pressures of being “perfect” when it comes to fitness and her audience reflects that.. Her advice? Striving for perfection could likely be your #1 mistake in achieving health and exercise goals. She shares her honest journey from body dysmorphia, to being overweight, to being “skinny fat”, to her now healthy and strong body outlook to motivate the masses.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Prior to becoming a trainer, I was formerly a nurse working in the nursing home, feeling burnt out. I knew I wanted to help people and to be in the health-related career field, but I felt nursing just was not my calling. While in nursing school, I had actually packed on an extra 30lbs and managed to drop 45lbs after graduation. My own fitness journey inspired me to start blogging which eventually led me to becoming a certified personal trainer.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?
One of the most interesting things that has happened to me since beginning this career has been getting recognized at the most random places. I remember the first few times that I started getting recognized from my social media was while we were on vacation at Disney World. I had a few ladies who followed me come up to me and asked for a photo-I was a bit taken back! In my mind, I do not see myself as all that or a big deal and at first getting recognized gave me a little bit of social anxiety, but now I embrace it as a public figure. Perhaps the most bizarre location where I was recognized was at Little Beach in Maui which just so happened to be a nude beach. Luckily, I was not nude nor was the person whom approached me!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I was teaching a group class of about 50 people, and I use my iPhone to play my music during class. Unfortunately, I forgot to set my iPhone on silent that day and my phone rang during the middle of class. Normally, not a big deal…but my ringtone is What’s Your Fantasy by Ludacris!
I learned to always double check my phone after that!
Ok super. Let’s now jump to the core focus of our interview. Can you describe to our readers how you are using your platform to make a significant social impact?
Over the years, I have used social media in various ways. It was first used as a tool to track my own fitness journey which led me to inspire countless other women to pursue their own fitness journeys as well. However, after having my daughter, I felt a strong shift in my message. I started posting unedited photos and showing the differences between real life versus Instagram shots. Body positivity became a strong message for my brand because I wanted to post the things that I would want my own daughter to see. I would not want her to be plagued with perfection 24/7 so I made it a mission to normalize things such as tummy rolls, cellulite, and stretch marks.
Wow! Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by this cause?
There isn’t anyone in particular who stands out, but I get comments and messages daily when I post these styles of photos and these women usually say that it makes them feel so much better. If I can increase one woman’s confidence for the day, then I feel I am doing my best job.
Was there a tipping point the made you decide to focus on this particular area? Can you share a story about that?
The tipping point was after giving birth to my daughter. Something that became my primary focus was being everything to her that my own mother wasn’t for me. Growing up, I was taunted for my weight gain as a teenager by her and she would call me hurtful names. I eventually ended up with an eating disorder and negative body image. I told myself that I would never allow my daughter to feel unworthy or unbeautiful. This mission carried through to my professional career as a public figure as well. These women are someone’s daughters and they need to be uplifted as well.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve (when it comes to body positivity, intersectional inclusion in the health/wellness industry… raising awareness about women’s health)?
I think society is a major part of the issue and there are definitely things it can do to help me address the root of the problems we face as women such as body image. We rely on one another for the survival of humanity. That primal connection makes our interactions physiologically and psychologically important. So it’s not surprising that how society perceives us affects us on many levels. And it’s partly how society perceives our bodies that is of concern.
The media in particular, has increasingly become a platform that reinforces cultural beliefs and projects strong views on how we should look, that we as individuals often unknowingly or knowingly validate and perpetuate. Here is what we can do as a community:
- Talk back to the media. All media and messages are developed or constructed and are not reflections of reality. So shout back. Speak our dissatisfaction with the focus on appearance and lack of size acceptance.
- Stop comparing ourselves to others. We are unique and we can’t get a sense of our own body’s needs and abilities by comparing it to someone else.
- Realize that we cannot change our body type: thin, large, short or tall, we need to appreciate the uniqueness of what we have — and work with it.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- Living your life online can be difficult. When I began my career online, I did not know how hard it would be-I learned this last year when I was plagued with trolls. However, I learned quickly that people are often braver behind a keyboard when their identities are not known.
- Social media can be time consuming. It is ultimately up to you how long you spend online per day, but social media never sleeps and notifications, emails, messages, and comments never stop. It is simply part of having a large page and connecting so intimately with others, but it is rewarding!
- Personal training is a life serving others. As a trainer, it’s about using your life to help others lift theirs up. You serve because you enjoy it. Because it invigorates you. And because you love the feeling of helping someone else achieve their goals.
- People won’t take you seriously… at first. When I quit my nursing career to start blogging, I felt embarrassed to tell people what I did. I always had been told and heard others say, “oh social media is not a real job.” I worked in silence for those first couple of years and let my success be my voice. I am so proud to say that the internet and social media is my career because it allows me the flexibility that nursing never did. I also went from making $36k a year to $500k.
- There is always going to be someone who appears more successful than you are. The crazy thing about the internet is that you only see what people want you to see. This gives you the real or false realization that they may be more successful than you are. It may make you feel inferior or a bit let down, but I always say this to my clients and I am constantly reminding my own self of this: do not compare your life (or body) to someone else on the internet. Stay in your lane and focus on your own mission. Unfollow anyone who derails that vision!
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Nothing more than the simple movement of women loving their own bodies. The body positivity movement has been such a wonderful one and I would like to continue breaking the stigmas and taboos around imperfections on social media (stretch marks, tolls, loose skin, no makeup).
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done before.” This has always been one of my favorite quotes and what inspired me to change my career path. I was unhappy working as a nurse and I knew that I had the ability to change that. If I wanted a career that I loved, I had to make that happen. I quit nursing and I started a business with no business degree! This was out of my element and something I had never done before that has opened so many doors. I once heard that if it does not scare you, it won’t grow you.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
She is not in the US, but I would love to have a private breakfast with Meghan Markle. She seems like such a sweet and down to earth woman who literally had her life change overnight in front of the world. I admire her strength, courage, and charisma. I also love her charity work-I think we all could have a little of the “Markle sparkle” in our lives.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can follow me on my Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/diaryofafitmommyofficial/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DiaryofaFitMommy
Thank you for all of these great insights!
Sia Cooper of Diary of a Fit Mommy: “Why we should talk back to the media about our dissatisfaction was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.