This is a question that I have gone back and forth on more times than I would like to admit.
I have struggled with my body image for well over a decade in one way or another. Mostly seeing myself as way too heavy or "fat" to be comfortable sharing my body with the world. It often is not something that I am all too proud of because I don't fit into that idealistic mold that most people in my profession look like.
I'll tackle these one at a time though. Let's start with my personal feelings toward my body and how I see myself. I wrote a much longer explanation in another blog post, but the nitty gritty is that I went through a major weight loss when I was younger, almost 100 lbs, and it really took a toll on me mentally. I went into a very dark place and really indulged my newly diagnosed anorexia and bulimia. I allowed myself to continue to lose an unhealthy amount of weight, but I always saw myself as that same heavy person that I was when I started my journey.
It didn't matter at all how much the number on the scale teetered downward, my body dismorphia made me blind to what my body actually looked like. I wanted so badly to look a certain way, a way that I had unknowingly long surpassed, so I kept fighting myself. I only saw the "layer of fat" around my tummy, the love handles that were SO BIG, and the flab in my arms that was never actually there. The idea of sharing a shirtless photo was so disgusting to me at the time.
What would people think? They would only see the failure I was for not achieving the weight loss I had set out to reach. They would see me as a total fraud. No, I didn't want them to feel like I was less than worthy of their praise. So, the only shirtless photos I took at the time were for my eyes only and I used them to beat myself up and to tear myself down.
After years of work, I got to a (mostly) really good place with how I see myself and am mentally much healthier in my view of my body. It's ever changing and I don't have a want or need to be stick thin now. I know that I am now can be a little bigger and still be beautiful!
As far as how I consider my posting in a professional world, it gets just a little complicated. I jump through several different arguments with myself on this one and I don't know that the debates will ever come to a clean and clear conclusion.
First, I know that most others in my field post shirtless photos. I work in fitness and the expectation is that I look a certain way. I definitely don't look like most men in the fitness industry, so I often feel like an outlier here. I talk a little more in depth about it in this last post. When I see their photos, I tend to get discouraged rather than inspired. I know that I can do incredible things in fitness, things that a lot of them probably can't even do, because my focus is much more in Functional Movement and overall health rather than physique training.
My body just doesn't look like theirs and it makes it hard to be seen as a point of authority in my field. I have been bullied by other trainers for the way I look and I know that it's not good for my mental health, so I tend to opt away from posting what my body looks like in public forums. Personally, I think it's incredibly unprofessional for other trainers to talk down to someone in a different place on their fitness journey. I honestly can't stand that.
I will say, in the last few years with the world moving into a much more accepting place of people with unconventional body types, I have gotten far more comfortable with the idea of sharing what I look like. I fight so hard for the people in my personal fitness community to know that they are beautiful and worthy no matter where they are at in their path to fitness. I need to start taking my own advice and accept that I am as beautiful as I make sure that they feel.