Posts tagged body
Is there a "right" way to have a body?
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Love your body.

Change your body.

Don’t change your body.

Hate your body.

There are so many mixed messages coming from every direction when it comes to women and their bodies. It seems like every day there is a new expectation associated with how we should exist in our bodies.

I totally understand the struggle of trying to find where you “fit” and grappling with wanting to change your physique but also embrace where you’re at. I’ve felt this way numerous times in my journey. I’m currently about 15lbs heavier than I typically feel best at due to a PCOS flare up (check this post for more details) and honestly, there have been MANY moments where I have said some not so nice things to myself. There have been some tantrums and frustrated fits of grabbing at things I don’t like and obsessively staring at old photos.

While these moments happen, the frequency and duration of them has diminished over the years. That is not to say that I am head over heels in love with my body all day, every day. In fact, I’d describe my relationship with my body as pretty neutral. My body is a vessel that I exist in – it does amazing things, allows me to live the life that I want, carries me through tough times, and helps me celebrate good ones. I try to do things to keep it happy and functioning. It is part of me but it is not my entirety.

So what should we do? Should we love our bodies unconditionally? Should we hate them? Do we change them via diet and exercise? Or is that an act of hate towards our bodies?

The pressure to live in our bodies and feel a particular way about our bodies can be overwhelming. It can feel like no matter what we do, we aren’t doing it right. We aren’t loving our bodies enough. We aren’t trying hard enough to change them. We aren’t embracing them enough. The weight of these expectations can be downright soul crushing.  

I had a conversation with someone just the other day about the feelings of failure associated with health, wellness, and existing in our bodies. They felt like they failed at changing their body in a way they wanted, so they opted to shift gears and work on embracing their body in the present moment. After a while, they felt as if they failed at that too because they still wanted to make changes towards living a different lifestyle and therefore, they must not reeeeally love their body if they have a desire to change it.  Living in these two extremes and feeling like a failure is no way to live. No one has the right to make you feel like you’ve failed at building a relationship with yourself. You can absolutely feel positively about your body and want to change it.

What if instead of trying to shove ourselves in a false dichotomy of self love and self hate,  we move towards a healthy relationship with our bodies? What if we honor them and treat them in a way that feels good for us?

We eat, move, and exist in a way that serves our mental and physical health.  

We release the expectations of a labeling our relationship with our bodies because, let’s face it, sometimes relationships are complicated and messy. These relationships don’t need to exist in a box or adhere to a particular set of standards that are set by someone other than ourselves.

Can we actively fight against arbitrary standards that tell us how to exist in the world?

Can we resist the urge to trade one box for another and instead forge a unique path?

I think we are up for the challenge.

 

"But I Don't Want to Look Like You"

This past weekend, my husband and I catered a private event (bachelorette party) for a friend’s friends. It was a lot of fun, A LOT of work, and a pretty hilarious endeavour. To be perfectly honest, most of my girl friends are chicks who lift/strongma’am so I’ve forgotten a little bit about what it is like to be surrounded by what would be considered, “normal” girls. Allow me to set the scene for you:

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[sort of like this outfit...with less chalk]

So, I’m standing in the kitchen between courses, talking with my friend (a fellow teammate and lady who is strong as eff) and one of her friends begins talking to us about working out/the gym. I give a spheal on how our gym is fantastic and such (because it is!) and she tells us about her past injuries and her desire to not “bulk up” and how she bulks up quite easily. She specifically refers to how her legs get “huge” and she wants to be able to wear jeans. My friend laughs and says “oh, gabby can’t wear jeans.”  Now, I was wearing a very glamourous outfit of leggings, a mens tank top (so much lat freedom!), and an apron so my thighs were covered.  At some point, I pull the apron away and the other lady instantly grabs my legs and says “yes! that!” patting my quads. At another point in the conversation, I also end up flexing (I don’t even know) and being called “jacked” and while this very nice woman is complimenting me on my physique, she is also saying that she doesn’t want to “get big”.  It was certainly not the first time I’ve heard that or the first time someone has grabbed my barely existing biceps but somehow it was different.

 Maybe it was because I was in a totally different and novel environment but it struck me that what this woman was really trying to say was: “I don’t want to look like you”. And that, to me, is not a bothersome statement. She wasn’t being malicious about it or rude in any way (although there certainly are people who DO use that phrase to be insulting), she was just expressing her own opinion. And that person isn’t going to look just like me because, you know, genetics. It was as if she expected me to say “I know! I bulk up easily too. My legs got big and it’s awful”. While that would potentially make the conservation more in line with societal expectations, it would be a lie. I told her that I’ve had big legs all my life, that’s just how they are. They’re legs. They’re supposed to carry my body around and do stuff. They need muscle.

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[leg muscles. you can't pull 350# off the blocks without them, you can't front squat without them, and you can't jerk without them]

 

Why do I bring this up? Because I think it’s something that every woman who lifts can relate to. People say, “I don’t want to get big/muscular/bulky/whatever” while simultaneously complimenting you on your musculature. Contradictory much? Perhaps. But it does force people to reflect on the whole notion of being comfortable in your body, particularly when that body doesn’t look a certain way. And above and beyond that, it made me realize that at some point, women’s bodies are seen as things that can be commented on without question. (As an aside - this isn’t a women’s only thing. I know plenty of guys, particularly very muscular guys, who get constantly poked and prodded and commented on without question). It seems that if someone else isn’t comfortable with your body, then you must not be either.  And that’s not a very comfortable feeling.

 Rather than getting upset or feeling awkward or shamed or self conscious, I would hope that most women take the opportunity to, for lack of a better phrase, own that shit. I think the initial reaction to any situation is to feel like you have done something wrong  and apologize or justify your body. I’ve done it countless times.

But why? No one needs to apologize for their bodies, to anyone. It seems a little ridiculous to say “I’m sorry my lats are just so wide!” but it happens, in some form or fashion, all the time.

So next time you feel like apologizing, don’t. Instead - smile, say thank you, and own it.