Show me a woman and I’ll show you an eating disorder. In some way, shape, or form I guarantee she’s got one.
Body image is something that I’ve struggled with since 5th grade when Barbie stepped onto her Barbie scale and the weight read, 110 pounds–six pounds more than my 5th grade body weighed. It is still something I struggle with. Yep, pro-woman, yogi, college educated, Women’s Studies minor ME still struggles with body image.
My body image issue usually lays dormant. But about two and a half years ago I was trying to figure out some health issues and restricted my diet. Not in an unhealthy way; I was simply cutting some things from my diet to figure out what was triggering symptoms. This new diet, combined with a new found love for running resulted in weight loss.
I dropped 2 pants sizes. But there was this weird disconnect. I held up my new jeans and they looked so tiny. I couldn’t believe that I fit into them. Then I’d put them on and wish that the itty bitty pinch of flesh that hung over the waistband would disappear.
One day I overheard a gal pal tell my boyfriend how “smokin'” I was looking. His response (God bless him!), “She’s losing her ass. It’s no good.”
Well, there’s a quandary.
One of my closest confidants was singing praises to my new figure (Ladies, let’s be honest, we are more hell-bent on impressing other women than we are men–even men we care about). On the flip side, my guy was wishing he had a little more somethin-somethin to grab when reaching for my behind.
As a yogi, my priority is my health. So while I entertained these thoughts, wellness won. I figured out the culprit and slowly began to integrate wine, yogurt, sugar, and whole wheat back into my diet–in moderation.
Poof! Booty came back!
And let me add, so did my periods, which had mysteriously disappeared. Marvelous! Irregular periods, just another way for mother nature to let you know something’s not right. AND just another excuse for insurance providers to deny you coverage. Sorry, that’s another post.
Since then, no–since 5th grade, this is something I struggle with. What my intellectual self and my emotional self understand are two different things. It’s a constant conversation. So when I see things affirming what I know is true (intellectual self) I have to stop and take note.
Not too long ago a blog post caught my eye as friend after friend shared it, liked it, and cried hallelujah in appreciation of it. “Strong is the New Skinny,” a gal named Sophie says. Masses of strong women stand behind her.
I was reminded of this post today after a series of events.
1. Facebook post by friend, Anna Brown: “Awesome moment of today: I was working out at work (GO JAG GYM!) and a group of little girls, had to be 8, came over and were mimicking my movements on the balance beam (V-sit on beam while shoulder pressing dumbbells). I notice them out of the corner of my eye and had them grab smaller weight (2pders) and had a mini work out demo. LOVE LOVE LOVE! I will be a positive change in the world of child fitness… you have been warned!”
2. At home yoga practice: a few warm up vinyasas, a few standing balances, forearm stand with variations.
3. Passed by the mirror and wondered how my hips got so wide…
Yes, despite my support of the strong women I know and my appreciation for a practice that allows me to view the world upside down, I still measure the value of my physical self by the standards set by our culture.
I love being a yoga instructor and being part of a movement that promotes wellness and strength. Some of the most rockin’ yogis I know sport swimmer’s arms, round tushies, and quads that could squeeze the life out of you. I admire these women. Furthermore, I am not so blind as to discount the waifs of steel that can hold their own in a sea of inversions. We are all born with different bodies. Therefore, “strong” is going to look different on each and every one of us.
Skinny is one of those words that can be a compliment or an insult depending on how it is said.
“Ay, you look so skiiiiiny!” (said by my auntie handing me a plate of carbs) or “Damn girl, look at that skinny little thing!” (said by the man on the street)
Regardless, I’d like to replace skinny with strong. Piggy backing off of what Sophie so eloquently said, strong is the new skinny. But let’s keep in mind that strong is going to look different on different women. That may mean curvy calves, broad shoulders, or an expansive belly. It also may mean wide hips.
At the end of the day, I bow my head and smile to my practice and to my body, as I acknowledge how strong I am despite all the squishy, jiggly, and wide parts of me. Let my insecurities give me insight. Let my weakness give me compassion. And let my body give me strength.
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