Lately I’ve been so tired. “Selling” a healthy lifestyle of good nutrition, self love, balance, and healthy movement can be exhausting when you’re up against a world of shakes, pills, body shaming, quick fixes, and the obsession with shrinking, shrinking, shrinking.
I keep finding that the more I figure out my own crap (we’ve all got our own), the more I find that my beliefs don’t jive with the messages that the majority of the world but even the health community is preaching. That is super disappointing, and on some days, makes me want to throw up my hands and quit. Maybe I should just keep quiet, let the world keep telling women that being skinny will make them happy and valued, and just keep my thoughts to myself.
Those thoughts had been in the back of my mind for awhile and I’d been pulling back from my work. I had a gift card to spend at a certain store (starts with A, ends with ritzia, but you didn’t hear it from me) and had an interesting little conversation with one of the employees who was helping me in the dressing room. We were talking about the pants I was trying, and she said with very obvious disdain, “It’s not like YOU will be wearing a crop top.”
Wait, what? Hold up. I was so taken aback that I just gave a nervous laugh and said something like “yeah, of course not”, and then basically dove into my dressing room to hide. I texted my Sister (because what else do you do when someone makes you feel like crap – you text your Person for help), was momentarily comforted by her reaction, and went home.
Over the next couple of weeks, the scene replayed in my mind. Did I misunderstand her? Unfortunately no, I don’t think so. I noticed stupid little thoughts creeping into my mind, thoughts that I’ve worked for years to erase. You don’t deserve to eat that much food. You need to have a six pack . You’ll never get a six pack if you eat carbs. People are going to talk if you gain weight. You can’t wear cute clothes unless you are really, really tiny. No one will listen to you unless you are really tiny. Am I pretty enough? Small enough? Can I still be pretty if I’m not tiny? Shrink, shrink, shrink. Hide, hide, hide.
(Sidenote: even after years of therapy and hard work, stuff happens, people say stupid things, and you can end up taking a few steps backward before you leap forward. The journey doesn’t really end.)
I kept (and keep) doing the work on my self, though, to fight those thoughts. I replaced them with truth statements, over and over and over again. And then, I looked back at the situation differently, and thanked God for the reminder and inspiration to keep going with what I do. To keep using my itty bitty blog and Instagram and sessions with clients to swim against the current and preach true health, in every area of life. To never shut up about the fact that skinny ≠ beautiful ≠ valuable. That beauty and value comes in every single shape and size.
“Because despite every lie we hear from every seller of things on Earth; it is not a woman’s job to get smaller and smaller and take up less and less space until she disappears so the world can be more comfortable.”
I wish I could sit that girl down and explain to her that my value has nothing to do with how I look in a crop top, and neither does hers. I’d love to ask her – where did you learn that it’s okay to talk to another woman like that? To make a judgement call, based on a woman’s size? Does she know that every time she makes a comment like that to another woman, she perpetuates the lies that we’ve been fed our whole lives by TV and magazines? I’d love to tell her that I couldn’t care less what size or shape she is, and that there’s a movement out there fighting against the mainstream media, trying to spread the message that women (and men) are more than just their physical bodies. Somehow that message hasn’t reached her yet, or if it has, it fell on deaf ears, already brainwashed by mainstream media.
I’m not going to go back and find that girl and talk with her about it, but I AM going to use the situation as an inspiration to keep plugging away and keep swimming upstream in the health community. My dream is for my daughter to soar through her teenage and young adult years thinking (knowing!) that she is beautiful by default, without condition. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine the freedom and opportunity she would experience if she didn’t have to sift through all the messed up things we’ve been taught about beauty and size? What if the voice in her head told her that yes, good nutrition is important, but that it’s not absolutely everything? That there’s more? What if it told her that sure, “strong is the new skinny”, but that being strong does not define her? That it doesn’t determine her to be a good person? How much more mind space and energy would she have to put towards good, meaningful, lasting things, if she JUST KNEW these truths, instead of having to rewrite her script and unlearn everything the world has taught her. I know, I dream big? But I want that so badly for her.
So, I’m gonna keep talking about it. Over and over and over again.