For years I believed the lie that women need to look a certain way.
That how we look MATTERS more than anything else.
I was taught that being slim it matters more than my work.
I was taught that what I wear matters more than my value.
I was taught that my image matters more than my intelligence, or knowledge, or expertise.
I was taught that the only way to have perceived value as a woman was to be pretty, and slim, and feel a little starved. To be young and virginal and modest.
I was taught that if I indulged that I craved, food that my body and mind both agreed would be just delicious and comforting and so fun to eat, that after I ate, I should feel guilty. That after I enjoyed eating it, I should punish myself. And further, that I should punish my body for wanting it.
Truly, the same could be said for a woman’s DESIRE for anything.
So much of how we enter into the realm of fitness, and diet, as a form of punishment.
And it’s directed at women. And it’s perpetuated by women.
It’s as if WANTING to indulge, to enjoy our bodies, is something that we should be punished for.
And the more I think about the patriarchy, and how men have kept and maintain power roles for so long, so much of it has to do with distilling a woman, and her accomplishments down to how she looks.
And we all take that in.
And we all see that and uphold that judgement in some way.
And we all teach it to each other.
Recently I was in the mall, picking out an outfit for a brand photo shoot.
That same week, I was trying to cleanse and shed off a couple of extra pounds for the photo shoot.
You see, my body is bigger, and rounder, and more curvy than I usually let it be.
And I fell into the trap of punishing myself for it.
As I wandered the mall, searching for the right tops to properly cover my curves, I thought mostly about how to make them invisible.
I wanted to cover my curves in order to conform to the cultural pressure of looking fit and perfectly untouched by Covid. To look as if a year of lockdown, and the stress of being a mom with kids on virtual school, and a brick and mortar business owner constantly on the brink, had not affected me in any way.
And then I saw something that snapped me out of my judgement, and reminded me of who I am.
And it was so profound and simple that it shocked me.
I saw a 20-something Gen Z girl, with a beautifully round body, rocking a crop top because that’s whats on trend now.
And she looked AMAZING.
And it immediately brought me back to the 90s, when this fashion was last in style, and all the thoughts I had about why I couldn’t wear a crop top.
Because back then, you needed to be paper thin, and tall, and perfectly manicured to pull off a crop top.
And because I wasn’t those things, I believed that fashion wasn’t for me. And I changed everything about my appearance to fit into a different ideal. One where I felt like I could be more me.
And decades later, I still held those beliefs.
So I bought a crop top.
Actually, I bought 4.
And you know what?
I LOVE THEM.
It is SO LIBERATING as a mom, with a mom belly button and all the ways in which my body is NOT what it used to be, to comfortably and confidently put on a crop top and say “this is for me too.”
And that is only possible because other women have decided it’s for them.
And it’s possible because there is a movement towards body positivity that includes everyone.
This movement allows each woman to love themselves as they are – not as they should be.
And, I’m telling you, as I round my way towards a milestone birthday I have not been thrilled about, I think of all the ways in which I have judged myself, and harmed myself, and pushed myself to be something not because I want to be, but because I’ve been told to want to be that way.
Listen, we can only offer the world what we have to give, from the place that we are.
If you are a woman, and you also would like to break free from the chains of exercise-as-a-form-of-punishment, if you would also like to love yourself a little more, than I invite you to join me on this journey.
On Sunday I’m teaching a body-positive, completely accessible class called Sunday Service. We’ll move and breathe and meditate and build a stronger relationship towards self-acceptance
We’ll also have a lot of fun.
It’s online, it’s just $24, but if you want a free code, just post below or PM me and I’ll give you one. Class is Sunday 3/28 at 9am via zoom. I promise to help you de-stress, to make you laugh, to to guide you into body positivity in a totally accessible, chair-based movement experience.
Learn more and sign up here: https://bethelovewellness.com/schedule/