Ages ago, I got into a debate (a debate? Me? No way) The debate was about body image and the medias part it had to play. And then a couple of months later their was the scandal with 'Essena O'Neill' and then there was the fact that I started personal training and got a bit fitter and also started a fitness IG... and I thought what better time to discuss the medias responsibility in body image.
The boys argument:
Back back back in the day, as cave men and women, we had a predisposition to procreate, therefore as women we have always needed to be better than our competition in order to get said baby making partner. Therefore the media are not responsible for body image issues, us women are. It is in fact human nature and instinct for women to NEED to be 'the best' To always be in competition with other women. We want to have the prettiest feathers/petals/boobs/face/arse... so that we can attract the best mating partner.
Alright alright, get off ya high horse with ya facts and your anthropology knowledge. I can understand the science that psychologists and scientists have researched for years. Men subconsciously look for an ideal baby maker. Large hips (ability to carry a child) Large eyes (high oestrogen) Women look for a protector (large shoulders, taller than themselves)
All I am saying is that there is a simple fact that we are subliminally persuaded by a social construct that leads us to believe that what the media tells us. And that image the media puts out, is simply not a fair, well rounded, true, honest, representation of women (and men) around the world.
The industry has spent decades telling us what the ideals are, what is supposedly beautiful/perfect and not all of us will succumb, but as a generalised main stream rule, in terms of our argument, a lot of us will buy into this.
BUT I do not want to be told what is beautiful, I do not want to be given a context in which to compare myself to. I am bored of being force fed what is supposedly beautiful. I am bored of seeing what the ideal girl is like on TV or in films. I want their to be more of a true representative of real body shapes and real women. In an ideal world I want to be beautiful, because I feel empowered, real, open, honest. I want to be beautiful because 'I' think I am, not because someone else thinks I am. I also want it to be OK (with myself) if someone else does not think I am beautiful, because who cares. If I think I am dam fitty boom ting, why does it matter if anyone else thinks I am or not. Someone elses opinion will not validate my thoughts. Yet it is so so hard to drill this into my own brain. Especially where social media is concerned, because I won't lie... when I put up a picture and it gets likes, I do feel (what is the word?) it isn't validated, but is it that I feel accepted? Understood? Is it that you feel like you belong, to a group of people that have rationalised that yes, you do look pretty today, or yes, your body is in shape? Is it just that it is nice to have appreciation for the hard work you put in at the gym, or the hard work you put into your make up that day (cos really sometimes it is an effort) Is it that we feel appreciated when our red hearts rack up and I panic... how do I teach my daughter that those notifications or those follows, do not mean love and do not have any bearing on her being. That she is not less loved because she has 1000 followers when her school friend has 50k? My only answer, I think, Is to find that acceptance within myself. To know that what I put out into the social media world is a fair true representative of who I am, and that I love myself in the good, the bad and the ugly pics, and that I am a true, multi fas-cited, unique version of one of the billions of humans out there.
DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT wear matching undies, I do not have long, thick hair that looks good when I wake up in the morning, I do not like beer, have an hourglass figure, big boobs, perfect 5p sized nipples and I most definitely don't just have a toned body AND get to eat pizza everyday. I DO have a pretty pert, rotund bottom, lean arms, a pretty decent sense of humour, frizzy short hair, quite decent eyebrows (when drawn on well) and small saggy boobs that I'm pretty sure will do the job they are meant to do when the time comes. I DO NOT love pink, glitter, drink spritzers, love shopping or paint my toe nails. Nor do I love football, hairy armpits or watching the news. I sometimes have abs, sometimes look good posing and the other 82 times, I look weird sticking my bum out, or sucking my belly in. I have an odd ability to take things very personally, cry at random things and then be cold hearted at others and I have a hairy belly button that I shave once a week.
I am not in a box, just because two guys from a bar told me so.
The truth is, I want to be the best version of myself, and I want that be acceptable. I want it to be OK that sometimes I make the best of myself and sometimes I dont. I want to shave my belly hair not because it makes me a better person, but because it makes me feel, well, less Gorilla like. I want to look beautiful for me, and not because I am trying to get laid. The truth is, I spent a long time wanting to be beautiful, thin, pretty, the girl everyone likes, the one that got invited to all the parties, that made everyone laugh. I wanted to be the one that booked acting job after acting job, that could hang out with the boys and talk about fannys and boobs (yehhh boobs) I also wanted to be the girl that girls would trust and share secrets with and invite shopping (even though I didn't like it). I wanted to be the girl in dungarees that never tried too hard, but was just that freaking awesome, laid back, pretty, natural, cool chick... I wanted to be the girls in the films, the models in the posters. I wanted to be the bicycle Barbie that I so desperately wanted aged 9, that I thought, if I had her, I would literally turn into her because the advert showed me I would. That is what media had a helping hand in. Perhaps my foundations of loving who I was already were not securely cemented in me yet. But at such a young age, even though I look back and didnt care about my size or my frizzy hair, I still did want to be Bicycle Barbie... subconcious thoughts that have taken me until my thirties to work out, battle and work on.
I object to being told what beauty is. I object to wanting to 'look' beautiful, just to peacock our way through life to attract a mate. I want to look pretty for me. Get my nails did, my hurrr did, my bum tight because if that is what I think the best version of me is, then I want to utilise my assets. But I don't want to lose sleep over it, spend thousands on it, I don't want men to think it's to entice them or women to think it's to compete with them.
The media pick up on this 'human' stuff and create a multi billion pound industry. The media thrives on the basic human trait. Our ego. And the egos biggest fear...
We are not ENOUGH!
The industry knows the power it has to sub consciously berate me daily, to encourage the less confident voices in my head that tell me, I am not enough.
All you want is to belong.
To fit in. To be accepted. To be understood. By something or someone. (CHEESE ALERT) And it wasnt until I was older that I realised it was me who had to accept myself.I talk about our self worth and feeling good a lot in a previous post called 'Are you beach body ready?'
I personally believe that we cannot and will not EVER be able to stop ad campaigns selling products to make us skinnier, glossier, plumper, firmer, perkier. Because we will always have 'ego' I just want to teach my daughter that her worth has nothing to do with 'looking' better, What is important is how we'feel' and that is a practise which we can teach, and learn and become familiar with. 'Feeling good' has nothing to do with how we look, but more to do with the thoughts we have about how we look. And that no butt injection, lip implants or three hundred pound hair treatment will make us 'feel' better IF we innately do not feel good enough, worthy enough, in love with ourselves'enough' already.
So whilst I concentrate on trying to subliminally insert this thought process into my clients heads, and my own for that matter (its always a working progress) The lack of empathy for the fact that 'loosing weight' or changing our thoughts about ourselves or 'feeling motivated' enough to do something, runs far deeper than just 'doing it' I walk into the super market and I see twenty magazines with women on the cover that look 'a certain way' I go on my social media and I see women that look like they were genetically modified, or I turn on my TV and see women that look like Disney princesses, in between ads for a new luxurious Hagen Daz advert and the pressure and the angst is so real that I feel I may develop a hernia. We feel 'less than' when we see people we will never compare to because they are nipped/tucked/brushed and filtered, we then numb the feelings of crappyness with all the Haagen Daz and then when I beat myself up for not being as will powered as the girls in the magazines, we buy an expensive ridiculous faddy weight loss detox product to try and look as good as the 20 girls on the 20 magazines and then, when we don't (surprise surprise, we numb the 'less than' feeling with even more Haagen Daz. (My gaaaad I want Haagen Daz)
The hideous cycle is horrendously easy to get caught up in. The You tube video I watched the other day, stated that our human minds love familiarity. We thrive off of the familiar. If it's familiar to you to feel crappy, you will keep returning to a world where you make choices to feel crappy. Put the Hagen Daz down and start making the unfamiliar, familiar.
If you want something you have never had, you need to do something you have never done
The reason I wanted to smash a piece of poo into these boys faces, were firstly, the old fashioned mentality that we women want to solely be wanted by men, full stop, that our main necessity is to be the best, in order to be chosen to procreate with and to do this, we must look the best? The statement irked me, as if we are waiting to be picked off a shelf, as if we do not do any of the choosing, as if, funnily enough, we have not evolved into a generation of women that perhaps do not base validation on men finding us attractive or not. I could be disillusioned that we are perhaps getting past 'dressing for men' 'working out for men' and looking our best, for anyone other than ourselves. Then I had to stop and think, have we just evolved from wanting validation from men, to now wanting it off our peers or worse still, off strangers more. Enter social media.
I thank the universe everyday that I didn't grow up in the era of social media as an extra helping hand to knock me right back down. ...Truhfully, I worry that having a Fitness page, a place where I post pictures of me in underwear.... is a part of the problem. You have to ask yourself why you have it. Ask someone different and you'll get a different answer... But I do believe you have to ask yourself why you post certain pictures and you have to be accountable and responsible for what you put out there. I worry that subconsciously fitness pages give out a message to other girls, that, if they (get skinny/fit and post half naked pics, that perhaps finally they will then feel, accepted, appreciated, loved... enough)
DISCLAIMER: Loosing weight, feeling like you look good in underwear, getting likes on your #transformationtuesday... will not make you feel... ENOUGH, if you feel that getting those things will validate you, make you feel whole, contribute to you feeling accepted, liked, enough... it will not!
Sometimes I feel awesome when I am in my PJs with my hair looking like I birds nest and my lips look all crusty and chapped. I still know I am loveable, likeable, and incredibly worthy and more than enough, without the juicy lips and the glossy hair (my hair will never be glossy for that matter) That's what I want a fitness IG for. So that girls can see another normal girl get fit and healthy, without it validating her worth. I want to encourage girls to feel confident in their skin, not for losing weight, but for changing their mind set in realising that they are in fact, enough (fat loss or no fat loss)already. I remember being so scared that if I started loving my body or thinking I was'enough' already, it meant I was going to stop caring bout how I looked and get fat. The irony is ridunculous...
Leading a healthier lifestyle, getting up and active, eating nutritious food, treating your body right, this will all help you feel great. But please know that there is not a quick fix to getting fit. That even if you buy into the quick fix to get skinny and it works (for a short space of time) and even if you post pics where you look good in undies and you get 500 likes, even if you start to look like those other IG fitty girls, you will not feel enough if you have already decided that you will only feel enough, once you look like those girls.
DISCLAIMER: Even if we did spend weeks/months/years of training getting a 'beach body' we will not feel happy with it, nor will it be good ENOUGH if we haven't realised our worth before getting the body we think we want in the first place.
Hating your body hasn't worked this far, try loving it instead.
I'm a personal trainer. I work out six days a week, I care about my body and what it looks like, I eat well and it isn't just because I want to be healthy and feel good on the inside. I also want to look good. And I have clients come to me and want to change their bodies. They want to get abs like Kayla Itsines or a thigh gap like Way of Gray, or they want a butt like Jen Setler and I relate. I want that too for gaaads sake! I want to give them what they want, point them in the right direction and help them make healthier choices to get them on their way.
DISCLAIMER: I will never be able to get you looking like these girls, because these girls do not always look like these girls. Yes Kayla does have abs of steel, and yes, Sophie Gray has a phenomenal body and Jens bum is OUT OF THIS WORLD. Yes the pics they post, the same way we all post, show us looking good, they show our progress, and hard work. They show #morningabs or great shots of #belfies and a good hip to waist ratio, but I need you to know that we all get bloated, that sometimes we stand normally and our thighs touch together (SHOCK HORROR) Sometimes we don't have amazing lighting where our abs pop and sometimes, well, lets face it, most of the time, we are not walking around flexing.
I only reiterate this because I am vulnerable to it. I scroll through and I see girls that are 'my ideal' I see shapes and bums and waists that I would like to have. I think, maybe, it's OK to want to work hard to get 'in shape' but not to want to look like someone else, maybe we need to change WHY we want 'these particular products/looks/bodies' then perhaps, what we are chasing, won't seem as important anymore. The lean thighs, the slender arms and the abs, they will come as a bi product of loving ourselves and feeling enough and that it would be best to work on how we 'feel' before working on how we look. We also mustn't think we can get there in 8 weeks/12 weeks/6 months. Yes you will look like a better version of you in 12 weeks if you put in the effort. Fact! It is why I love BBG. Noone is promising you that you will look like anyone else, accept a fitter, stronger version of who you already are. That is something worth working towards, and the physical aspect of liking what you see will help the mental aspect of how you feel. Working hard and finding a way to sustain a healthy lifestyle is worth achieving, which is exactly why I rate and talk about BBG. Kayla has created a format and a community that is about sustainability, routine, accessibility and community. as a PT, I am in awe and inspired by such an achievement. The BBG community is special perhaps because of the honesty about how we feel in these pictures, or honesty about how we look day to day, or honesty about how hard it is to flex a bicep (it's really hard people) or just be because there is honesty that some thigh gaps are created just by standing like a duck.
Who would we be if we stopped needing validation and stopped looking for attention and who would we be if we... dressed for us, worked out... for us, felt good... enough? Who would we be if WE dictated what BEAUTIFUL meant, and that beautiful just meant, feeling enough!!!
We'd be the fucking Spice Girls...
and we might just take over the world!!!!