I learned a new word recently, body diversity.
Think about it for a minute. Body diversity. That’s a great word! That wording promotes acceptance of differences in bodies! While the media embraces individual differences in many realms, body diversity is NOT there yet. According to the media, all female bodies should be Victoria Secret size/shape and all male bodies should be a pic from Men’s Health magazine. Seriously! How many people do you know that actually look like the people in magazine ads, on TV, in movies, or on the internet? Yet, this is the ridiculous ideal that has somehow corrupted our expectations of what we should look like. Let me hope on my “soapbox” for a minute here:
Being in the field of fitness all of my adult life (that’s a whopping 25 years!), I have seen many different shapes and sizes of bodies – including my own. All throughout MY changing body, I’ve been super healthy and fit. Regardless of wearing a pair of size 11 jeans or a size 2, I was still able to bench press 205 lbs at my puny 5’2″ frame, 145lbs! So . . . bring on the shallow, superficial media who think that “a look” is more important than HEALTH. I’ll smash you into the ground! (just joking of course!).
I’ve had two roommates in college (aerobics instructor and fitness enthusiast) who had eating disorders (bulemia and anorexia). One threw up every time she ate anything because the pressure to be a certain size while she was wearing spandex teaching classes was insane. The other one didn’t eat more than an orange a day while she ran nearly 3 hours per day! Why do we do this to ourselves? Because the media tells us we are supposed to look a certain way to have “value”. Bah-hum-bug!! Before you think that I’m just speaking for women . . . I’m not. Men also have distorted body images. The media suggests that they should all be beefcakes (old school word!) and if you’re not, then you’re not desirable. Bah-hum-bug to that too!!
Recently I watched the documentary film Embrace. Wow, it was amazingly informative, sad, and angering, yet I left feeling hopeful! The movie sought to bring awareness to the pressures women feel about their bodies, how the image of women’s bodies has changed over the last century, and closed by celebrating the diversity of women’s bodies! Their message: “A negative perception of our own body is both destructive and unhealthy and can result in a damaged sense of self or poor self esteem. So the message here is – accept your body.” I left hopeful because they are aggressively trying to help women improve their body image! On their website, they provide resources and links to other resources for support and encouragement. They even have a six-week program to help you find joy within!
ALL of us should aim to be healthy and LOVE our bodies and accept diversity in other people’s shapes and sizes. Health, contrary to what is thought, is NOT a one size fits all trait! Health is an emotional, mental, and physical trait – that comes in all sizes!
Embrace your body. Love your body. Be healthy.