Sarah Nicole Landry, a.k.a. The Birds Papaya, inspires thousands of people on her social-media platforms and podcast. After losing 100 pounds and going through a divorce, the mother of three began sharing her insight and wisdom on body positivity and self-love on social media when she realized losing weight didn’t provide happiness.
In a body-conscious world, Landry is honest, raw, and oh so relatable to anyone who crosses her path. Instead of shaming, she inspires. Instead of an obsession with perfection, she creates a safe space that allows for both acceptance and evolution. Her “journal of life and love after massive change” encourages others to embrace their own unique path in the pursuit of loving life — and realize that contentment comes with body peace.
Experience Life | Where did the name “The Birds Papaya” originate?
Sarah Nicole Landry | When I started blogging, I was a stay-at-home mom of two daughters, so I named it after their nicknames: Jemma “Birdie,” and Maya “Papaya.”
EL | You’ve said that after you lost 100 pounds, you worked through a lot of inner dialogues to discover the value and meaning behind self-love. What did you discover?
SNL | Well, first of all, that losing weight doesn’t automatically mean you’re happy. I had to re-evaluate my motives and journey throughout the experience, and I found that I was unhappy with my body even after weight loss. While weight loss is never inherently bad, it did create some bad habits and disordered eating for me, and a complete re-learning of my relationship with food and my body.
EL | What would you say to people who are struggling to love themselves?
SNL | That it’s OK. We’ve been conditioned to believe our bodies are the most important part of us, so to love it feels really important, too. The truth is, it’s not the most important or even most interesting part of you. To think more neutrally about your body and deprioritize its value in terms of your own self-worth allows you to make choices and show up for yourself beyond your body.
EL | What would you say to a woman who has become a mom and is struggling with her new body and her new role?
SNL | Change is hard. I’ve never coped well with it. For me, postpartum acceptance took almost a decade and that’s not uncommon. Sadly, for many, it’s because we’ve been led to believe we have to “bounce back” to a body we once had, when realistically, how can we? How can we be expected to ever go back to the woman we were before when we have evolved and become so much more? The “bounce forward” is truly where the magic is: Letting go of your past self; honoring her as you move forward; remembering that she had her own struggles; having respect for your body and the good job it’s done in carrying you — and your children, too.
EL | How can other people shift their mindset to loving each version of themselves?
SNL | I think love is an action word, not a feeling or emotion. Sure, there are times when we are truly “feeling ourselves” and that’s fantastic. But that is not love. Love is in constant pursuit. It’s not stagnant or stale. It does not stay still in one place. It moves. It moves with you and for you and through you. When we show up in love for ourselves, it can manifest in so many ways — in how we speak, move, eat, and enjoy the experience of life.
EL | Healing after change can be challenging. What do you do when you discover a layer of self-hate that you thought you had already conquered?
SNL | I let myself sit with it. Avoidance was a game I played for a long time, which is like the difference between peacekeeping and peacemaking. Peacekeeping sweeps issues under the rug; peacemaking cleans up the mess. It’s OK to take time to journey through unpacking your self-hate as you clean up the mess. I actually recommend it.
EL | Have you received negative comments when sharing your story on Instagram? How have you handled those?
SNL | I think I’ve received every negative comment there is at this point! But it always does something good for me. As much as I hate to admit that negativity has a place in this world, it has allowed some great, positive things to happen for me. When you’re building a community online, you tend to attract like-minded people, which is amazing and supportive and magical. However, it kind of creates a bubble. You don’t get to see and hear the opinions of those outside of it. When negative comments happen, it allows me to digest and reflect, and, more importantly, it reminds me of my fight and my why. Some of my best work and writing has come out of response to negativity.
SNL | To be honest, I think it’s still Instagram. It’s been a place that both imagery, storytelling, and connection come together, and I love that. However, the podcast has expanded me as a human to more places. It’s given me an opportunity to take the platform I have and use it to elevate the voices of others that I am so honored to get to learn from and share.
EL | What fuels your creativity?
SNL | My own thoughts, really. As humans, we experience thoughts all day long, positive and negative ones. We’re really good at having them and letting them flow through us, but to capture them, write them down and share them, it lends itself to a new form of creativity, vulnerability, and connection. It’s why I typically write my captions before I find an image to pair with them.
EL | How do you keep showing up for yourself — and other women that follow you?
SNL | Just being authentic to me. Whether I’m happy, sad, frustrated, or silly, I try to just be me in the best ways I can be and encourage others to be the same — in body and in spirit!