It’s not everyday that something catches my attention and COMPELS me to throw in my two cents. I’ve worked hard on trying to let things go, and I choose topics carefully to discuss here: the right time, the right place and always from a place of love. Today’s no different, but I NEED to rant a little. I hope you’ll indulge me. (If you feel like ranting too, we can high five it out in the comments or you can send me a message). This is causing a HUGE stir on Facebook right now and while I initially ignored it, I think it deserves some attention.
I would LOVE to name names, but don’t need to. There’s no sense in knocking anyone down, and I am a FAN of the page/site in question and will continue to be, if nothing else for the daily inspiration and fabulous workouts they post. But for the love of squats, they PISSED me off today. The kind of pissed where you want to let it go, but realize that you need to vent first to relieve some of the tension.
I know that MANY of you are also following them, so it’s likely you’ll know what I’m talking about here. Would love to know your thoughts if so.
This morning a MASSIVELY popular page posted a pic that I think was meant to stir discussion (or get attention) but ALL it did was promote body shaming, body criticizing, misogyny, and to be honest, bullying. ‘Let’s make it OK to comment negatively on female bodies in a huge forum’ kind of stuff.
Today, the image of a lovely, GORGEOUS young woman - a stranger to the people who run the site - was posted on their page, with the phrase…
“Ran into this in our news feed…HAD to ask you guys your thoughts…”
Because she was rockin’ armpit hair. Full on. Gloriously, confidently, happily so.
In fact, the lovely lady is in the news for her natural look and is stirring a fabulous discussion about body image, natural beauty and more. Had they posted a link to her news story and asked for thoughts on body image, it may have been a slightly better way to go. Discussion based. Educational. Maybe eye-opening to some. But nope. All that was posted was the picture, out of context. With that word ‘HAD’ as though the picture alone was worth the CAPS.
We’re not used to seeing arm pit hair these days, so the picture IS quite striking. But why did they ‘HAVE’ to ask our thoughts on a seemingly sweet pic? Because they wanted to PROVOKE REACTION. But anyone with half a brain would know that of the MANY reactions the picture may get, a good chunk would be mean.
In short, they provided a forum for people to make fun of her, spew hate, reinforce ideas about what women SHOULD look like and otherwise be incredibly mean. I believe it was meant to stir ‘discussion’ or ‘gain attention’ but all it did was push women down. WAY down. And I’m not alone - last count there were well over 400 comments, seemingly split between ‘ew, gross’, ‘why they hell would you post something like that?’ and ‘you guys are awful for shaming her like this’.
One of my BIGGEST pet peeves? ”Girly Pushups”.
I’ve made an effort to NEVER call them “girly” push-ups. I really, really wish everyone would stop calling them that as well. I’ve got MANY reasons for this, but the most important ones are…
1. It creates a comfort zone for women, where they don’t expect more of themselves. There’s nothing wrong with modified pushups, but they can be a fantastic stepping stone to harder modifications. Ladies are MORE than capable of handling full pushups (hello! here!) and there’s no limits to what we can do. Many women have NO idea they are capable of regular pushups: they don’t try ‘em.
2. It creates a shame zone for men who are still working up to basic push-ups. It makes them hesitant to try the modified version, for fear of being deemed ”ladylike” (which is another issue for another day. No time for gender politics right now, but I could go on and on). Many men can benefit from working their way up and building strength with modified versions, especially if they have injuries (wrists, back) that make other variations too challenging.
Modifications have their place in EVERYONE’s routine, and even the fittest people need to modify their exercises to suit their bodies. The goal with modifications is to HELP you get the most out of your fitness. Not to hold you back OR to make you feel ”less than”.
Ladies, try stepping outta the modified zone. If you can do 12 modified pushups, it’s time to get on all fours! Even just ONE. One is the gateway to TWO. Two is the gateway to THREE.
Fellas, if regular pushups are just NOT in the cards right now, drop to your knees. Screw anyone who would DARE comment. Screw em. Secure men wouldn’t comment anyways.
If you’re not up to full pushups for ANY reason (injury specifically), you can still make modified pushups more challenging. Try adding weight (a vest, backback or plate), a resistance band (each end under a hand and looped around your back), stagger them (one hand slightly more forward to the other, or elevated on a book, dumbbell or block), or slow them down: the slower you go, the harder they are.
And whatever you do, for once and for all: they are modified push-ups. NOT “girly” pushups.
Bah! Haven’t had a good rant in awhile! This one’s short: just need to get some things off my chest.
As always, I’m not judging. Just putting out some observations & opinions. If something works for you (actually works) then fine, but that doesn’t mean it works for everyone and it doesn’t mean that you can’t take a look and see if you can tweak things. At the end of the day, we all want happy & healthy friends on Tumblr, right? Right? Yay! Thought so. :)
I know some of you like to use photos as inspiration. This fills my Tumblr dashboard on occasion and simultaneously sinks my heart. When I click through to those blogs, the images are interlaced with self-deprecating posts and admissions of ‘I’m not good enough’. But it’s not just here on Tumblr.
Many women I know use images on their fridges with body types they want to achieve. Hell, I used to do it too. But now I feel like I was stupid. And crazy. And ultimately, it did nothing for me. More so, I think it can be a dangerous practice for women who use ‘looking’ a certain way as their main motivation to live healthy (or unhealthy).
When we look to other women, other bodies & unrealistic/modified images for inspiration, we can be inadvertently setting ourselves up for failure. I LOVE me some celebrity booty: but thinking I’ll ever look like her is misguided. I never will (with celebrity images, it’s likely that SHE doesn’t even really look like that, lol).
While it’s fun to fantasize, people who have set unrealistic goals for themselves are NEVER happy with their bodies: no matter how bangin’ they get, no matter how kickass they’re training, and no matter how far they’ve come. Imagine putting in months of work, getting healthier, getting stronger and being so utterly BAD ASS…. and not feeling that way because you don’t have Kim’s butt? You never did silly! You never will! But you do have YOUR butt, and thanks to your hard work it’s awesome (or on it’s way). Trying to achieve someone else’s body features is pullin’ a Skee-lo. He kept on wishin’ he was a little bit taller and you know what? Where is he? WHERE IS HE?!!? :)
While having a body goal is great, work on that goal for YOUR body. Not hers. Or his. So I offer this alternative: have you considered using your OWN picture?
If you’ve been following along (and geez, some of you have been here since the very beginning) then you’ll know that I don’t follow a ‘one-size fits all’ plan when it comes to health & fitness. Yes, there are certain hardcore truths about some things: but they don’t mean squat (pun) unless you’re willing to sign up for them. What works for one person, might not work for another. We’ve all got different biologies, personalites, preferences, tastes, support systems, finances etc. How can one model work for all? It doesn’t.
It truly bothers me when health experts, trainers, nutritionists and others, completely ignore that we are each individuals FIRST. They ignore the ‘person’ part of personal health. And they judge. They judge harshly. And that judgement doesn’t help their cause: all it does it make people feel badly about themselves and less motivated to change.
Case in point: food guilt. I can’t tell you how many of you express food guilt to me in my ask. Guilt over drinking a soda, eating fries, going over your calorie limit. Bah, relax! Feeling guilty does nothing, it’s not pro-active and you know what? You shouldn’t EVER be bullied into doing something you don’t want to do. Yes, you CAN make healthier choices. But you know that, at least most of you do. You don’t need to be looked down upon when you slip, make a bad choice, or don’t know any better. Experts should be there to show you your options, give you tools to help you make better choices and provide you with information when you ask for it. NOT judge you for drinking a diet coke. You are a person, you deserve respect. And feeling judged does nothing but push people away from (not towards) healthy living.
My goal has been, and will continue to be, to provide you with information, tools, fun stuff that you may or may not connect with. If it works for you? Great! If not, well maybe the next batch of posts will. But I try my best not to judge you: I’m here to provide you with MY advice, tools & resources I think you might like, have discussions, learn from each OTHER and maybe start a dialogue about loving ourselves a little healthier. You’ll come to your own healthy place in your own way.
Which is why when I saw this post this morning, I couldn’t WAIT to share it with you. It kinda blew me away, and expresses all the sentiments I shared above. See the excerpt below, but PLEASE click on her blog to read the rest!
Excerpt from Um…”Health” Experts?
Lately I’ve been kinda lack luster in the thoughts department but today something got me all riled up. I mean super duper riled up. It wasn’t the exact post per say but just the idea of “health” experts in general. Let’s see…how can I put it? How about this? I am sick and f*cking tired of all of these supposed health experts splashing their expert advice all over the internet with more of an interest in discrediting each other then in really helping those that they are supposed to be trying to help in the first freaking place. Oh and I believe those that they should be trying to help would be the average American. You know the ones…those that may be trying to eat healthier and exercise in a way to bring them to a healthy lifestyle but may not know how. Instead? All of these experts are so busy trying to prove all of the other experts wrong while winning the approval of other experts so they can wave the flag of “I’m so much f*cking smarter and better than all of the other people who think that they are smarter and better than the average American who we are supposed to be trying to help.”
Now, let’s make this clear: I have NOTHING against wanting children to be healthy, and learning about healthy lifestyle choices. Whether they get it from their parents, schools, a book, a TV show, I don’t care. It’s ALL good and the more messages and information they get, the better. And I don’t think that many of the parents who are upset about this book feel differently. I also don’t think the author wrote this book with malicious intention AT ALL.
So if we’re all on the same page, why are people so upset?
Because of the word ‘DIET’.
The author could have easily chosen to use ‘Maggie Gets Healthy’ or ‘Maggie Takes Charge’ or ‘Maggie Learns About Her Health’ or even ‘Maggie Gets Her Groove Back’. All of these, though they won’t please everyone, would have been MUCH more suitable titles and chances are, would have avoided the backlash being drawn from the book.
Now, I am biased. I HATE the word diet with a passion. It implies all kinds of things that I don’t want to encourage: restriction, temporary changes & denial. I’m not about those things at all. And I don’t think I’m alone in those implications. Now, the word diet actually means: ‘what you’re eating’. You can have a healthy ‘diet’, an unhealthy ‘diet’ etc. But typically? That’s not how people use it.
The author claims the word was used to help kids ‘relate’. But I think he overlooked the fact that society’s relationship with the word isn’t exactly a healthy one.
Common Connotations: Diet vs Lifestyle Change
The use of the word ‘diet’ has many UNHEALTHY implications, that he’s so conveniently skipped over. The vast majority of ‘diets’ in this country are fads, unhealthy, pill-popping quick fixes that people struggle with. And while one of the author’s arguments is that the use of the word ‘diet’ is to relate to readers, I think that the negative implications of a ‘diet’ are too strong to be communicating to children that young.
Now, those negative connotations are WHY we’re reacting so strongly to this book. NOT because of the content (SIMMER DOWN MOMENT - NO ONE’S EVEN READ THE BOOK YET. WE’RE UPSET ABOUT THE SYNOPSIS & TITLE ONLY). The author is using the word ‘diet’, but in the book, Maggie simply eats healthier, non-restricting, the way any nutritionist would recommend she eat. That’s all. The use of the word ‘diet’ implies restriction, conjures images of girls starving themselves, implies people wanting to be THIN not healthy etc. It was stupid to use that word, but that doesn’t mean that all those bad things are IN the book.
In terms of how much we hate the word ‘diet’”: Think about how many women you know who are on a ‘diet’. Now think of how many MOM’s you know who are on a ‘diet’. Now think of how many of their kids know what the word ‘diet’ means, NOT from this book, but from their experiences at home & watching T.V. Almost every child over the age of 6 in this country, knows what a DIET is. So is the word relateable? Well, yes. Most likely, yes.
Google the word ‘diet’, and you’ll find tips & tricks from everything to the 5-bite diet, to the South Beach Diet, to the cleanses that have become popular recently. While it IS associated with healthy eating, it’s also mixed in with a lot of crap.
Let’s look at the story, shall we?
Basic Storyline of Maggie Goes On A Diet
- Maggie is an overweight teen who is unhappy.
- Maggie goes on a ‘diet’ (making healthier choices) and loses weight, while simultaneously gaining confidence.
- Maggie tries new things, gets new friends, becomes happier.
Now, the author’s not 100% wrong in his assumptions about weight loss. Making healthier choices can improve your mood, your confidence & boost a positive attitude: all things that can attract new friends & experiences. Those are findings that the scientific community has found as well (oh, and I know I might be rubbing you the wrong way, cause you wanna hate on this book so badly. But hear me out!). The problem, is that those things are not not guaranteed. The book also doesn’t address underlying issues that may have caused obesity. Many obese children suffer from depression, which can affect their moods, grades & social skills. I don’t know if that’s the case for Maggie, but obesity IS a problem for kids in this country and we HAVE to educate them somehow. But I doubt this book goes into that, and it’s maybe too much to ask of a children’s book anyways.
The only way to be healthy is with love, no matter what size you end up. And I think the message the author was trying to send was that being healthy is a good thing. But I think he missed the mark on labelling it with ‘diet’.
I don’t want kids to think that they have to be thin, on a diet, or anything else than they are to be popular & happy. But I do want kids to make healthy choices. So while I agree with the INTENTIONS behind the book, I have to disagree with the way it’s being packaged & delivered to these kids. I’ll have to thumb through it at the bookstore to know for sure, but it just irks me. Sorry, I just can’t get on board with this one.
If you do buy the book, or share it with your kids, get a big black marker and cross that word out. Replace it with anything else. And prepare to have a talk. Will this book make your kid anorexic, self-hating & worried about the way they look? Probably not. There’s plenty more to worry about than a book you probably won’t buy your kids.
And, I honestly DON’T think the author’s intentions were anything other than honorable. He’s just a bit of a bonehead. On THAT we can all agree.
P.S: What I find most interesting? The critics who consider this book a lesson in self-hate,who readily engage in diets/body hate IN FRONT of their children. 89% of women have been on some kind of diet in the last year (self-proclaimed diet), and more of them said they HATED their bodies. Isn’t there a little hypocrisy there? To teach a 6 year old to eat healthy is teaching self-hate, but to go on a diet yourself, even a fad, isn’t? Just a thought/tangent.
Your thoughts? This wasn’t as ranty as I thought, but I’m never gonna buy this book, and as it would appear, neither will anyone else.
What do you think?