Women are socialized to have distrustful relationships with our bodies. A friend of mine was shocked the other day when her eight-year-old voiced a concern about being fat. The objectification of the female body inundates us, and our children. It is tough to block out the messages and invest the time in building a health relationship with ourselves. As I reflect on this topic, here are a few of my initial thoughts…
Fitspiration/thinspiration can be really divisive and damaging. I love seeing a picture of the view from a buddy’s run/bike ride/hike… but I could live well without the body shaming memes.
The latest diet or cleanse is a trend for some, but a stone’s throw away from orthorexia for others. I am part of a few running and health support groups, and I am saddened by the reported feelings of failure and anguish by members when they are not compliant with whatever plan they feel pressure to be on. It’s okay to be on a plan, but it is also okay to say “screw plans, I am going to eat what I want.” Health should be built on a sustainable foundation. It is important to realize that there is an entire industrial complex designed around controlling the food women eat, and making them feel inadequate.
This is a picture of me wearing clothes that I find comfortable for running in warm weather. I am not intending to be provocative. And yet, I second guess my outfit choice every time I wear something like this, because I am worried about being catcalled. And, on plenty of occasions, I am. This attention is objectifying and unwanted. It usually ruins the rest of my run.
Fit, healthy, and athletic look completely different depending on one’s body type, and yet there is a predominant norm for what it means to look like a female runner in the media. Finding alternative images of runners often involves digging deep, beyond what you will see in your newsfeed or a magazine. It is also incredibly difficult to find runners of different shapes and sizes not affiliated with an inspirational weight-loss trope.
I’ll wrap this post up on a positive note… I am deeply grateful for running blogs for providing an outlet to discuss many of these issues and to challenge the stereotypes and messages perpetuated regularly by mainstream media. It was by reading the writing of regular people, just like you, that I found my inspiration and encouragement to stick with running. Your stories are important—they help people around the world connect and relate. So readers… keep running, and keep blogging!