They were there with their Grandma so every once in a while we would exchange a few sentences. At the very end, when they were leaving, I said to the young girl (who was about 10), “You did an awesome job! You were a rockstar on those monkey bars!” She smiled, proudly. Her grandma told me they were her favorite, to which I responded, “They were always my favorite growing up, too! And look! I am almost 30 and I still hang out on the monkey bars!” They both smiled and this is when everything changed…
The grandma reached around, grabbed 2 handfuls of the extremely impressionable 10 year girl’s stomach, and said “Well God knows she needs it! Don’t you, chubs?
<- False. Said one granny ever.
The girl smiled at me sheepishly and in obvious humiliation, turned and walked away towards the car. My jaw dropped and I said nothing.
Why do I share this story with you? Because how many times do we deal with this in our lives? How many times does the metaphorical grandma reach around from behind, grab 2 handfuls of your belly and say “You are not good enough.”? Maybe the metaphorical grandma is your own negative self-talk (aka: Head Trash).
The craziest part is- I’m not sure we even know what we believe to be beautiful. On one hand we’re all about stick-skinny Victoria’s Secret models- “Gosh if I could have her legs!” and the next minute we are blasting the thigh gap- “Ew! People who have a gap between their thighs are sickly looking and gross!” (as they secretly google “how do I get a thigh gap” from their phones). After that, we are singing songs like “I’m all about that bass” that basically says “Sorry skinny girls! Boys are NEVER going to want you! They are all about voluptuous curves and allllll this bAss!”
Well, it goes both ways, folks!
When we say to a girl “Girlfriend! Embrace your curves! Guys like a little cushion! They don't want a skinny fat chick with no meat on her bones!”, we are simultaneously saying to the next girl, “Hey string bean! You are gross and we are all OVER size 0. Eat a cheeseburger!” -- Not to mention we are saying that the reason the voluptuous girls should enjoy their curves is because that is what BOYS want. Wow. Great lesson! This is another blog topic entirely.
Or when we all talk about how Kate Moss is totally right on about how nothing tastes as good as thin feels, and when a well-known CEO of an athletic clothing line alludes to the fact that “Our pants are really designed for those women who’s legs don’t rub together. You know, those with a thigh gap.” which says to the athletic, muscular girl next to her “Oh that’s muscle in those thighs? I don’t care, that should be a gap of empty air space. If you want to be pretty, forget strength and being healthy. Also, forget about your bone structure and the fact that your hips are narrow and you couldn’t have a gap even if you weighed 93 pounds. You must find a way to have a thigh gap to be pretty.”
<-The same blog post that is all about how women need to love their bodies is the one that posted this picture. Those of us with thigh gaps are very confused. Do I love my body? Or do I eat a cupcake… The weirdest part about it is I am known for standing like a flamingo, and have done that for most of my life without even realizing it.
For your viewing pleasure, this is how I stand when I brush my teeth every day:
Now- I am NOT saying anything is inherently wrong with that statement. I mean, it’s true. Seriously... suck it up and do the work. But that’s not the point.
The point is- do you even KNOW what you want? Or what your body is capable of doing? Or better yet what it is DESIGNED to do and be and look like?!
I will tell you this- the first time I started testing the limits of what my body could DO I stopped obsessing over how it LOOKED. And the craziest thing happened, it starting looking better than ever. Did it look like the Barbie doll perfection on the cover of magazines? No, not even close.
Before, when I was depressed over my “flabby” butt and my weird bumpy un-toned stomach and flabby, soft arms, all I did was THINK about food, THINK about working out, OBSESS over what I looked like and made life ALL ABOUT ME.
Once I started realizing- Hey! I am pretty strong! I started challenging my body and started leaving the gym thinking- “Sweet! I did a pull-up for the first time today!”, instead of “The scale went down a pound!!!”
What I’m saying is, it’s all ridiculous! The real issue is that SO FEW people have found a balance between embracing what they have and NOT shaming what they don’t have! You know what I’m saying?
Here’s what I mean, I don’t sit here and blast girls with boobs and great curves because I don’t have any! I sit here and say, Hmm, let’s work with what I can. I can build my booty with squats and other things, but unless I want man pecs I can’t really do anything non-surgical in that area (haha). So I should probably just focus on what I can change for now.
The point is, embrace it without saying something NEGATIVE about what you can’t have. When the “thigh gap” trend was going around, it was the first time that I realized I do in fact have a “thigh gap”. As quickly as the thigh gap became “the thing to have”, several articles by popular fitness inspiration started circulating that said things like “Girls! If you don’t have a thigh gap that means you are a STRONG, HEALTHY individual! Why would you want to be a string bean?! Embrace your beefy quads!”
So I’m what... weak and unhealthy? A string bean? Actually I just have really broad shoulders and extremely boney hips. My hips are set wider and therefore I have a thigh gap. Not because I tried to have one or because I do a million sumo squats and leg lifts suggested by pinterest. Simply, because I do.
Are you following me yet??? Why do we have to put one down to lift the other?!
Instead of “I love my curves because I think that string bean girls look like they are sickly and gross.” how about let’s try, “I love my curves!!!!!!” PERIOD.
Instead of “I love being thin because I really think J-Lo’s butt looks ridiculous.” (what?!) how about let’s try, “I love being thin!!!!!” PERIOD.
STOP apologizing about what you LOVE about yourself!!! STOP saying that you love it simply because you hate something on someone else.
You know what? I love being the size that I am because I think I am a lot stronger than I look and I think that’s awesome! I also love it because I know it’s a body that was earned and not given. I know that I EAT (a lot) and don’t obsess over calories, carbs, fat or sugar. I also know what my body has been through, especially in the last almost 2 years and I think- You GO, girl!
And do you know how many times the metaphorical grandma has reached around and grabbed my stomach and said “Honey, you’re too thin. You need to gain some body fat. You don’t want to look too muscley, do you? I can see your ribcage! You need some meat on those bones! But not more muscle. You don't want to start looking "bulky".” And you know what they’re really saying is: “Maybe you’re happy with where you’re at, and you may even be perfectly healthy and eat enough and get enough nutrition. But according to my standards, you look too thin and frankly, I don’t like it. I think that you should have some meat on your bones and stop working out so much. You’re starting to look like a man.”
But you know what? I (finally) don’t even care! And you shouldn't either.
So here’s the end of the story…
Love yourself. Stop hating on other people’s body types. Stop feeling like you can only build yourself up when you put someone else down. Just love yourself.
Once you’ve done that, you can FINALLY let go of “you” and start focusing on and investing in others.
And to tie in the loose end I left when I started this post, I don’t even know where to start in reference to that grandma. I am sure she meant well, but what she did was detrimental to that young girl. Something the girl will have to battle on her own. So that’s where this post comes in. I can’t put a stop to the “metaphorical grandma”, but I can hopefully help you see yourself as you are. Most of all, do it without apologizing for loving yourself, and without putting someone else down at the same time. Do it just because you do.
End rant ;)