Monday, February 13, 2012

sometimes I have to get on a soapbox

I am not always outspoken.  I usually keep my opinions to myself. About many things, I don't even have strong opinions. But, when I do feel strongly about something I will not be quiet.  Today I saw something that just got me fuming mad (so naturally, I had to step up on a soap box for a minute).

While I love pinterest and have found some inspiring and fun things there, one thing has been driving me crazy.  I get so mad when I see "health" and "fitness" boards smothered with photos of airbrushed, half naked women.  5 minute great, sexy yoga!  Oh please. The picture is practically pornographic. If you do 5 minutes a day of yoga, (sexy yoga, that is), you will have sleek arms, six-pack abs, a tiny waist and legs, a golden tan, and a gigantic, perky chest. Other photos have women in string bikini's, seductive poses, with captions about how to lose weight, ignore hunger, do this or that weight loss cleanse etc. It makes me so sad.  I guess it's just the same things we see in magazines over and over again, but I think it's so destructive and for most, not motivating in the right way.

I went through a period of time in college when I was overly obsessed and concerned with my body.  In hindsight, I have no idea why I wasted so much energy caring.  I was running with the cross country team training for track season and surrounded with girls who were concerned with weight.  It was so new to me.  Something I never cared about or even thought about before.  I think that I was caught completely off guard and saturated with people constantly talking and worrying about their bodies.  It made me think, well, if you think you look bad....what about me?  Although I feel that I see things clearly now, feel very happy and confident with myself, at the time it was very real to me, however delusional it might have been.

Seeing an ever-increasing obsession with being thin, fit, and what is universally thought of as "beautiful" makes me feel sad and wish I could do something.  My best friend works at an inpatient eating disorder clinic and the stories she tells just make me feel sick inside. There are women of all ages and walks of life.  Some of these girls are so young and are so hurt inside.  It is unbelievably sad.  Being surrounded with images, media, and other women on a quest for perfection can delude even the most secure individuals. 

Exercise can be, and should be fun.  It should be enjoyable and something one does to feel better. It should be something we do to feel strong, to feel capable, to be healthy.  Eating healthfully should also be enjoyable and something one does to feel better. These are things we should do to show appreciation to and for our bodies.  Of course it is okay to want to look your best, but the constant competition and comparison battle is depressing and often the goal gets so unattainable and unhealthy that it is truly a never ending internal war.  The time spent over-thinking, feeling guilty, punishing your body, and comparing every little thing becomes all-consuming. 

I love to run. I love to hike, climb, bike, swim and be outside.  I have said it a million times, but for me, exercise is more mental and emotional.  It makes me happy, calm, more patient, more mentally sharp and emotionally stable.   It makes me feel better.  My body wants to exercise, my muscles want to stretch and move.  Every one's do.  I enjoy healthy foods, although I don't always eat right.  I am also a complete sugar addict.  I know that when I eat right, I feel better.  The body craves good nutrition.  The body craves water, vitamins, minerals, and all the goodness that we can put into it.  The body will respond positively when we treat it right.  Exercise and eating habits should be for a happy and sound mind and body.  When we treat ourselves right, our emotions, our minds, and our bodies will thank us.  (And there is absolutely nothing wrong with a Snickers every now and then, or a day to veg on the couch.)

My anger toward all of this is only toward the media and those behind the ever increasing saturation of the "ideal".  For those caught up in the battle, I only feel so sad. I truly do know how hard it is to climb out and stand on top. For those struggling,  I have a  feeling of desperation.  I wish I could fix it all and make every one feel amazing about themselves.  I wish I could make every one appreciate their body for the miraculous gift that it is, for the ability to heal, to perform, and to serve for a lifetime.  I wish I could erase all of the images that create a delusion of what ideal is.  I wish I could erase feelings of discouragement and self-loathing. I wish I could erase the need for perfection.  It isn't real.
Coming to a feeling of peace, confidence, and self-respect is a happy place to be.


Dan and Ashley said...

thank you

Leslie Kirk said...

I wholeheartedly agree! And like you, I'm tired of the half naked pictures!

Anonymous said...

Have I ever told you that I ♥ when you are on a Soap Box...thanks for saying all things I wish I could put as eloquent as you just did.

Denise Moore said...

I second Courtney! you are a doll Jessica!~ loved the post

Tyrell said...


Stefanie Ruth said...

Yes, yes, YES! You hit the nail right on the head with this one, Jess. Granted, I had to make my own peace with this fact but once I figured out what works for me, I've felt amazing!

These unrealistic expectations need to go away, right along with the "five minutes to perfect ______(insert muscle group here)". There is NO such thing as an easy fix, and health and fitness are things we all need to care about because it makes us healthy and strong. We shouldn't only care about exercise and diet because it makes us "skinny" and "sexy".

(And if one more woman tells me she's afraid to lift weights because it will make her "bulky", or says she "only wants to look toned," I'm going to scream).

Thanks for bringing this up. We all need to start working to change these ridiculous ideas.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I think you need to speak out more often, about more things. Well said.- mom