Alright. I’m going to get a little cheesy here, so bear with me. You have to understand that day in and day out I work with women who literally do not think they are good enough. They poke at their hips, pull at their stomachs, compare themselves to every woman around them and avoid looking at themselves in the mirror while they work out. This HAS to be tiring because it exhausts me. It absolutely EXHAUSTS me to see so much self hate – simply because their bodies don’t look identical to a celebrity or magazine cover. I wish they can see what I see. I see women who have bodies strong enough to create, care for and raise children. I see puddles of sweat and smiles as they jump around in my kickboxing class, dancing and singing to themselves in my spin class. For brief moments of time I get to see their happiness, their strength and a short period of time where they aren’t judging themselves and simply living in a moment that brings them pure happiness. And when those sessions or classes are over, they go back to wishing their bodies were something else; it literally breaks my heart.
I get it. There are very few women in the world who grew up loving their bodies. For those rare few, I applaud you. I remember dreading shorts, skirts or anything that would show off my “not skinny legs”. I knew the right way to stand in pictures and that darker jeans were best. This desire for skinny legs haunted me from the ripe age of knowing-to-care right into my early 20s. How did it stop? Well – I can tell you it didn’t stop because I developed thin legs. It came from learning to love my legs for what they could do. I didn’t just wake up, read a motivational quote and decide I loved my legs. It’s more than just a body part when it comes to self acceptance. The first step was maturing into a female that started to care just a bit less about how I measured up to other women and dabbled in some self-confidence. Ironically, this transformation came about when I found strength training. At the same time, I also gained a lot of new, enjoyable people in my life while removing poisonous ones from it. I made a conscious decision to be present and confident and during this time received the most flattering compliment in my life: “You are the type of woman who commands respect.” Those words haven’t left me since and I intend on living up to them forever.
Maybe that comes with a dash of maturity. While it didn’t happen overnight, I came to love how strong these legs were and that was a direct result of lifting heavy stuff. There’s no way around that. I loved the ability to lift and pull heavy things..over and over again.. and I was blessed to have two legs to do it. If a man, woman, or beast thought less of me because of that, they were entitled to their opinion, but it no longer had any impact on my level of happiness. I finally realized that how my body looked, while important, was not a direct reflection of my happiness. It was a result of my happiness – but I had to decide what dictated happiness. Valuing your body and it’s ability to move you, support you and sustain you is an incredible thing. You may think you can sacrifice acceptance in order to fit into skinny jeans, but I’m gunna call your bluff.
I challenge you to stop focusing on things you want to change and look at why your body is so valuable. Continue to challenge it through movement – whatever movement it is you choose to do.
And in an ironic twist of events, if you ask my fiancé what’s the first thing he noticed about me, he’ll tell you my legs.
Works for me.