As human beings, I believe we are taught to feel ashamed about our bodies and be overly critical of our physical accomplishments. If a man proclaims that the hours he’s spent doing concentration curls are paying off he’s seen as a meathead, and if a woman seems openly proud of her physique she is seen as conceited.
For one reason or another, it has been ingrained within us to downplay our achievements. Women, in particular, usually dismiss compliments and attribute their success to some arbitrary reason. When groups of women get together, it often becomes a competition as to who can say the meanest things about their bodies. It is rare for a woman to proudly state her success, especially in a physical realm.
I am proud of the way I look. I feel strong and beautiful. I’m confident in myself, so does that automatically make me arrogant? Why is it deemed acceptable for a woman to put herself down, but it’s frowned upon when she speaks highly of herself?
I’m never going to be a size zero and I’m never going to comfortably live at 12 per cent body fat. I’m not perfect, but who is to say what is perfect? Is being beautiful dependent on weight, height, bone structure, hair colour, skin colour? Surely every person is beautiful in their own right, simply for the fact that they are alive. My body is even more amazing as I have the ability to move with ease and lift 1.5 times my bodyweight.
I secretly love the fact that I have had five people in the past week tell me that I look like I’ve gotten bigger, despite the fact I’m dieting and actively trying to get smaller. I love that two of those people, who are men, told me they wished they had arms like mine.
Instead of feeling upset about these comments, I am proud knowing that the work I have put in over the past couple of years is paying off. These comments were not made with malicious intent, so why should I take them that way?!
While the media is the indirect force behind negative thinking, I find most negative comments come from women themselves – friends, sisters, mothers, and coworkers. Women are not taught to give each other compliments and celebrate their bodies – they learn to gossip and put others down because of their physical appearance. Most of this negativity stems from their own insecurities. I have witnessed a direct inverse relationship with myself: the more confident I grow with my body, the less judgemental I become towards others.
This amazing picture of Jen Comas Keck from Girls Gone Strong is currently floating around the online lifting community, and it sums up how I feel about my training:
Another gem from GGS is Molly Galbraith’s most recent post, where she featured 10 incredibly inspirational women and their favourite body parts. This post really touched me, because it proves that strength really does have a huge impact on how you feel about yourself. I do not believe any of those women came across as arrogant, but it sure as hell motivated me to go to the gym!
I have many body parts that I’m proud of. Instead of dwelling on the parts of me that aren’t so great, I try to focus on my muscular legs that were built with thousands of hours of ballet practice and squats, or my arms that I get so many compliments about but only train once every 3-4 weeks. I love my upper back and my butt, and I don’t care if it makes me sound like a bitch.
There is a difference between wanting to improve your body, and constantly picking out your flaws. There are not many people who are truly content with the way they look – there always seems to be another five kilograms to lose or more muscle to gain. Focus on the things you like about yourself – physically, emotionally and mentally – and remember that no one is perfect.
Why not celebrate the journey rather than the ever-distant destination, and be proud of who you are at this very moment?