As a child I was a massive tomboy. I’m not sure that term is PC now, but then, it defined a girl who dressed like a boy, played ball instead of dolls, and chose camo over lace. Maybe it was because my brother was my best friend, or maybe it was just because I really loved the way I felt when I cracked a ball off a bat, or tackled someone who was trying to get away, or sprinted to tag someone who gave me a run for my money. If my lungs burned and my legs ached it was a good day.
My body was something that could be strong, fast, and powerful. I never looked at my body as anything more than a vessel that provided me a chance to run, throw, and jump. I was blissfully unaware of how the world saw a woman’s body. How women’s body’s were “used” for selling things and manipulated for getting attention. Then, things changed. Wouldn’t you know it, I turned out to be one of those early “bloomers”. Once that happened, the way boys looked at me changed, I changed.
I started getting curious attention, and it was not for my remarkable competitive nature or scrappiness. While at first this attention was awkward and uncomfortable, eventually I liked that attention and started to dress differently and be more girly to get more of it. I could never completely abandon my love for sports, but this new territory wrapped me in. Unaware, I continued to play my cards and get attention and change a little of who I was to be more of what boys liked.
Almost 40 years later and I find myself in the similar situation. I still feel some worth by how I look. I’ve lost that pure and unadulterated childhood feeling of loving myself for who I was and my body for what it can do.
Now, as a mom, I want nothing more than my girls to see their bodies as I did at a very young age. A powerful gift, something from which we can find rest, creativity, and strength. I want them to honor that by doing things they love that make them feel good. I want them to feel free to wear camo, or sweats, or a swimsuit, without comparison of what they are or are not. I desperately want them hold tightly to the idea that their worth is not in how they look, but in who they are.
We, in the fitness world, seem terribly bassawkwards in this arena. We are supposed to be champions of celebrating the body for its’ ability to do and be. Instead, I find my facebook feed crowded with messages of perfection. Perfectly poised selfies with six pack abs and buns of steel. I still see quotes all the time like, “What’s your excuse?” Do we hope to inspire people by shame and comparison of what they’re not? It’s time we offer a new perspective of where worth lies. Perhaps we can start with a little more sweatpants and a lot less spandex.