I follow a lot of blogs and social media sources, particularly those involving the health and fitness industry. Some I read religiously, others more sporadically or as they pop up in my newsfeed and catch my eye. I just need to put it out there that a few posts I’ve come across lately have been quite bothersome, many of which inadvertently and humorously address the subject of female body image.
Unless it has a positive spin, I don’t normally like to single people out. However, I want to use fitness model/writer Jamie Eason as my example. With an approximate 300,000 following on Facebook alone, this girl is a powerhouse! Her role within the health and fitness industry is miles above most. Whether you agree with her fitness philosophies or not, you can’t deny that she is an incredibly hard working, driven, beautiful woman. At present, she is over 38 weeks pregnant.
However, Jamie’s recent posts have included negativity and jokes about her own body. She has referenced her “hail damage” (I’m assuming this to be a metaphor for cellulite) on more than one occasion, and jokes about her chubby face or how terrible her body looks in natural light.
I was actually surprised by the amount of “Likes” one of her more recent status updates received- almost 8000. Personally, I disliked it. A lot. I assume there are many women who receive these updates and feel deflated hearing about her cellulite ridden legs when she’s ready to pop out a baby. I realize that when you have a career as a fitness model, it’s probably strange to just let go and see your body morph so drastically. But seriously, you have the rest of your life to squat, curl, plank, and lunge yourself back into pre-baby shape (or better). I simply wish that people with so much influence in the health and fitness industry would promote more positive thinking, healthy motivation, and feelings of self-worth.
I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I don’t share similar sentiments towards my post-baby body from time to time. Some days, after running for 45 minutes or doing an outlandish number of burpees, I look at my belly in the mirror and seriously wonder, WTF?! I’m working as hard as ever, yet obtaining results at a snail’s pace.
When these thoughts start creeping up on me, I immediately take a step back and remember two things:
1) Patience is a virtue. Ahh, that proverbial phrase we all know and love to hate. It holds so much truth. I really do believe in the ‘slow and steady wins the race’ philosophy when it comes to fitness. It’s easy to get discouraged, but I know that I just need to hang in there.
2) I am a role model. Although I haven’t been in the classroom for the past twelve months, I’ve taught the 5th and 6th grades throughout the course of my career thus far. At an age when children, particularly girls, are incredibly impressionable, I was always very careful not to poke fun or criticize my own body. This is easier said than done when you are 27 years old with a mouth full of adult braces!
Now that I am a mother, I have the same responsibility. Thomas doesn’t yet understand what I’m saying when I pinch my love handles, throw up my hands, and refer to myself as ‘chubby’ in a weak moment. But he will, soon enough. And I never want that to happen. I want my children to grow up in a home where their mother loves and respects her body, thus instilling similar viewpoints within them. Once again, easier said than done, but imperative.
Having positive body image is seemingly a life-long battle these days. It’s interesting to think about how much focus and energy is directed towards teenage girls having positive role models in their lives. And I most definitely agree with the importance of such measures. However, what about the rest of us? The 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70+ girls who continue to live in a world that tolerates body shaming and mockery?
I am definitely guilty as charged in mocking my own ‘flaws’. I guess that’s been my way of dealing with them. What good does this do, though? None. I always feel awkward when my friends or family members make fun of their bodies. I never know what to say in response! Lately, I have been trying to be more cognisant of this behaviour before blurting out a comical statement about my tightly fitting pants or the dark circles under my eyes.
The first step to change is recognizing that there is a problem. And ladies, this is definitely a problem within our society! I think it’s about time that we begin to process each moment of bodily guilt, mockery, or judgement. It’s bound to happen from time to time, but there’s no harm in being more mindful when it does slip out. For the sake of our own happiness, and that of all women- we are so much more deserving.