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Danica Patrick on Struggling with Body Image and Social Media: ‘I Think There’s a Yearning for Real’

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When Danica Patrick shared an Instagram post showing her “real versus composed” body, she wasn’t surprised that it had such a strong impact.

“I think there’s a yearning in the world for real,” the NASCAR racer, 35, tells PEOPLE. “People really want to know the truth.”

Joe Scarnici/WireImage

Patrick uses her social media pages to show an unedited glimpse into her life, and that post from June was the perfect example.

“It gives me the opportunity for it to come straight from me and be real. I follow tons of people on social media who you feel envious of; they have the perfect life or they look perfect all the time, and it just seemed like the right thing to do,” she says.

“We can work out to make ourselves look as good as possible — and there’s nothing wrong with that — but the reality is I can hold a camera out in front of me and turn in a circle until I find the right lighting and find my best angle. And I can adjust my clothes to make sure that I just look as good as possible.”

Patrick explains that she, like most people, has struggled with body image in the past, and she emphasizes that finding it takes time.

“I think being confident in your own skin is something that is probably one of the longest transition periods in your life that you have to come to grips with,” she says. “I think it starts with positive self-talk, working really hard and feeling good.”

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Her interest in keeping it “real” also inspired her partnership with Excedrin, to give people more of an insight into the debilitating migraines she’s had for the last two years, and to show just how common they can be.

“My series of triggers seem to be after a race on Sunday nights through Tuesday, so they’re kind of about a 48-hour window. They’re not necessarily every weekend, but when they come on, they’re awful,” Patrick says. “There’s plenty of Tuesday mornings when I get up and I feel awful, I feel nauseous and I’m on the couch all day. It’s a good opportunity to use my experience to help people understand how bad they are.”